Murray Road is the only part of the Bellarine Rail Trail where cyclists have to ride on the road. Not only is this dangerous for families wanting to ride along the Rail Trail, it causes headaches for local residents trying to travel along the road, and for services, like rubbish collection.
The Borough of Queenscliffe investigated ways to resolve this problem by separating bike traffic from road traffic, creating a safer transport network for everyone. Three designs were produced to give bikes and cars their own space:
Option 1: A separated boardwalk;
Option 2: Converting Murray Road to a One-Way road; and
Option 3: Widening Murray Road.
While an independent engineer provided a recommendation, the Borough of Queenscliffe also undertook public consultation to ensure local residents and community groups had an opportunity to provide feedback on the proposals.
The consultation period ran for two weeks until 2 June 2019, and included an online survey and a community drop-in session at the Big 4 Beacon Resort on the Bellarine Highway. Notifications were placed in mayor’s columns in local newspapers, as well as via hand-delivered mail to more than 350 properties in the vicinity of Murray Road. Local environmental and cyclists groups were also directly invited to participate in consultation.
Consultation was well-attended, receiving 92 responses. The community drop-in session accounted for 33 responses, from more than 45 attendees. Nearly 90% of responses came from people within the 3225 post code.
Respondents favoured Option 1: Boardwalk and Option 2: One-Way Road the most. While Option 2 received the most first preferences, Option 1 received the highest average ranking.
The above graph shows that when asked why a particular option was preferred, respondents most frequently listed the environment, safety and traffic speeds as key considerations.
In open-ended response sections, many respondents gave further design suggestions, including speed bumps and road closures. Some respondents wanted no change at all, however this represented only a small fraction of responses.
Here’s how community input helped improve the design
We wanted to create a design that includes the ideas of as many respondents as possible. To do this, we’ve combined aspects of Option 1 and Option 2 to come up with a design that uses the community’s preferred parts of each proposal, while avoiding some of their challenges.
The combined design retains Murray Road as a two-way road east of Ward Road, with a new boardwalk for cyclists, and converts Murray Road west of Ward Road to a one-way road with a more significant barrier between cyclists and traffic.
The community said: Limiting the impact on the environment matters. 36 respondents wrote about this in extended responses.
We responded by: This design limits road widening, and only a small amount of vegetation near the eastern end of Murray Road will be impacted.
The community said: The safety of cyclists and pedestrians is critical. A majority respondents agreed that this was the most important aspect of the project. Many respondents also wrote that more should be done to reduce dangerous driving.
We responded by: Putting barriers and dedicated walkways in the final design to physically separate bikes and pedestrians from cars. We’re also exploring adding further traffic-calming features, like speedbumps, to the design.
The community said: Access to driveways for properties facing Murray Road matters.
We responded by: This design maintains the use of Murray Road as a two way road between Ward Road and the Bellarine Highway, where properties have sole access off Murray Road.
The community said: Respondents liked the idea of the boardwalk, but cost and maintenance was a concern.
We responded by: Including a boardwalk between Ward Road and the Bellarine Highway. This much shorter section of boardwalk will provide an attractive feature while significantly reducing the total cost.
Here’s what’s next
Council will consider endorsing the above design at an upcoming meeting on Thursday 20 June. If Council endorses this design concept, officers will then investigate funding opportunities to construct the upgrade.