A 5.3-million-dollar bicycle bridge on the Federation Trail near Yarraville will close on Monday 16 July, 2018, to make way for the Andrews Government’s destructive West Gate Tunnel elevated tollway.

FedTrailBridge

The bicycle bridge, which provides the only safe route from Melbourne’s industrial west towards the Maribyrnong River Trail, was opened in 2014 before any whisper of the new tollway was known to the public.

The new road will widen the West Gate Freeway to 12 lanes, with some of those lanes taking the place of the new bicycle path. A realigned path connecting with the new bridge will not be open until 2022.

So what are your alternatives?

The first option is the route identified by the West Gate Tunnel project.

Official detour

This is the most direct detour, but the route through the West Gate Freeway interchange with Millers Road would be enough to deter even a determined bicyclist from ever travelling that way again.

The official detour also dumps bicyclists at the (soon to be) former city end of the Federation Trail. The trail is incomplete and bicyclists must find their own way once they have crossed the (soon to be closed) bridge, so it does not make sense to dump users of the trail in the middle of nowhere rather than provide a route to connect with the Maribyrnong River Trail.

Detour via Richards Court Overpass

FedTrailRichards

This detour (see here) utilises an overpass between Richards Court and Rosala Avenue. The map I have provided also guides users of this route towards the Maribyrning River Trail rather than dumping trail users at the end of an incomplete path.

For note, this route interacts with the West Gate Freeway via the overpass. Work on the freeway expansion may limit access at times. Also, this route utilises Blackshaws Road, which is not the most comfortable for bicycling, but the road is quieter than some of the busy trucking routes in the west.

Detour via Kororoit Creek Trail

FedTrailKororoit

This detour (see here) utilises the (incomplete) Kororoit Creek Trail from the Federation Trail to Blackshaws Road. The map I have provided also guides users of this route towards the Maribyrning River Trail rather than dumping trail users at the end of an incomplete path.

For note, this route interacts with the West Gate Freeway via an underpass along the Kororoit Creek Trail. Work on the freeway expansion may limit access at times. Also, this route utilises Blackshaws Road, which is not the most comfortable for bicycling, but the road is quieter than some of the busy trucking routes in the west.

Detour via Point Cook

FedTrailPointCook

This detour (see here) abandons the Federation Trail entirely and provides a route for those who want to cycle all the way from Werribee or Hoppers Crossing to the Maribyrnong River Trail. The route utilises a combination of roads and trails, including the Bay Trail through Altona. At 27.5 kilometres, it really could be quite a fun ride.

For note, this route utilises roads that have wide paths along the side, specifically Sneydes Road. These paths appear to be intended for shared use, however, few are actually signed that way. So I leave it up to you to choose whether to ride on the wide path or on the road.

Final thought

The West Gate Tunnel will actually complete the Federation Trail at the city end, so bicyclists will benefit eventually, however, it is still disappointing that so little foresight is applied to infrastructure planning in Victoria.

It is also disappointing that safe bicycle infrastructure is so often only provided alongside roadway expansion projects rather than as standalone initiatives aimed at promoting bicycling. This also means that cycleways are often only built beside new bypass roads, which is not where a commuter bicyclist is likely to want to ride. Homes are not on the bypass, neither are the shops, schools, employment. They are in town, with the people, and that is where a commuter bicyclist is likely to want to travel.

This post has been updated to reflect that the four-year-old bicycle bridge will not be demolished. Instead the path leading to it will be demolished and a new path connecting to the bridge will not be open until 2022.

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