Safety Compromised by Proposed East West Link Road: Bridge bike path only for ‘brave and desperate’

The path along Shepherd Bridge in Footscray is used by hundreds of cyclists a day and must be shared with pedestrians. Photo: Eddie Jim

Ms Garvin (spokeswoman for Roads Minister Terry Mulder)  said the government was investigating ”methods of improving safety for cyclists at Shepherd Bridge” as part of the business case for the (proposed ) east-west link…  (despite) $3 million budgeted for the new bridge (having been already) set aside.

FOOTSCRAY’S Shepherd Bridge bike path has been called a crossing fit only for ”the brave and the desperate”.

Those cyclists who do traverse the narrow Maribyrnong River crossing – by the latest count there are 1900 a day – must do so within arm’s length of tens of thousands of B-double trucks.

The 1.6-metre-wide path, which is also shared by pedestrians, is part of the premier cycling route between the city and the western suburbs and is therefore rated one of the worst ”missing links” in Melbourne’s bike network.

Plans to fix the intimidating crossing were completed in 2008, but are unrealised some four years later…

Funding for Shepherd Bridge was part of VicRoads’ $380 million truck action plan to divert heavy vehicles off residential streets in the western suburbs by building ramps from the West Gate Freeway onto Hyde Street, Footscray. But that project stalled after the election of the Baillieu government, which is instead doing planning work on the $10 billion east-west link.

Yarraville cyclist Darryn Gatt, who rides to work in Melbourne’s CBD, said the situation was ”definitely risky”. ”It feels like one slight move and you’ll go onto the road and get hit by a truck,” he said…

”Even the pedestrians that are walking there at the same time as the cyclists, you can see that they’re nervously walking over the bridge.”

Labor’s member for Williamstown, Wade Noonan, said the state government could easily build the separated path if it chose to, because the $3 million had been put aside in the budget papers.

Adam Carey, The Age, October 11, 2012

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