An elevated cycling veloway for the Bell to Moreland level crossing Removal is still feasible to be incorporated in the Bell to Moreland project.
A veloway concept plan sketch for Bell to Moreland level crossing removal was presented to the Moreland Council auspiced Community Advocacy Reference Group (M-CARG) meeting on 3 September.
The concept design sketch for a veloway is for under railway except crossing Moreland Rd, Munro St and Bell St – using combination piers. An updated version was presented to M-CARG members by email on October 22 that addresses LXRP concerns raised with the original design (see excerpt from LXRP email 18 October below).
The main exception raised by LXRP was the issue of property acquisition north of Bell St.
The updated concept design sketch proposal has been adjusted by extending the elevated rail (in lieu of some of the embankment ramping) and providing a switchback ramp for the veloway to loop under the railway.
Bell St to Moreland Rd – Level Crossing Removal – Modified Concept Design Sketch
Upfield Corridor Coalition (UCC) and Moreland City Council Bell to Moreland Level Crossing Removal Community Advocacy Reference Group Moreland LXR-CARG would like to see a veloway included in the Moreland to Bell elevated railway design.
Our goals include:
- Station platform access from both sides of Bell St and Moreland Rd.
= improved pedestrian safety (in contrast to people at other new stations that now cross against the red where they used to cross with boom gates down)
= improved traffic flow across the corridor due to fewer people pressing the button.
- Retain mature trees along the corridor (not just Gandolfo Gardens) (and the bird and animal life they support)
- Veloway for higher-speed longer-distance cyclists using the corridor – accessed via station lifts and ramping up and down with railway
= improved pedestrian safety (by keeping higher speed cyclists separate from station forecourts)
= improved traffic flow across the corridor due to fewer people pressing the button.
Below is a concept design mock-up which would:
- accommodate an elevated veloway,
- provide station access from both sides of Moreland Rd and Bell St, and
- shift Moreland Station platforms slightly further south to avoid conflict with the two beautiful Sugar Gums planted by the Coburg community in 1911.
One possible cross-section for a veloway could use the same U-channel and pier components as are being used for the railway lines. Modified cross-heads would be needed.
The benefits of the veloway will increase as the length of the elevated railway is extended in future, but this cannot occur without incorporating it into the initial design.
This particular veloway design could be accessed by station lifts with a specific level for veloway access – below platform level.
This concept design does not require property acquisition. The veloway would be mostly under the railway lines, but adjacent to it over Bell St, Munro St and Moreland Rd to provide 5.4m clearance over roads.
Over Reynard St, veloway under railway would have sufficient road clearance with a more consistent railway gradient.
Bob Cumming, a Coburg resident whose house abuts the rail corridor, summarises his discussion about a possible veloway with Adam Neville, the LXRP Project Manager, during a meeting with LXRP about their Voluntary Purchase Scheme (VPS).
summary of discussion:
Many in the community wanted to see an elevated veloway included as part of the project. The reason a veloway has not been included in the design is that to include a veloway would require compulsory property acquisitions, particularly for the ramping section of the veloway at the north end.
LXRP – 18 October email: (Bob’s responses in red – in relation to Community Veloway sketch)
Extensive investigations have shown a veloway is not viable option due to several constraints:
The narrow width of the rail corridor means land and properties, including the Shirley Robertson Childcare Centre, would need to be acquired to accommodate the veloway and ramps leading onto it. Not if under railway.
A veloway would need to be four metres in width which, due to the narrowness of the corridor would result in it being constructed very close to homes, resulting in further loss of daylight. Agreed.
The veloway would need to be supported with additional piers which would impact the amount of open space throughout the corridor. Not if under railway with combination piers.
The close vicinity of the heritage station buildings and impact of nearby power lines have also been key considerations. Additionally, privacy screening on a veloway could make it difficult to access in the event of an emergency. Privacy screening is a relatively trivial detail as for any construction.
Overpasses and underpasses were also investigated and shown not to be a viable option. The length of ramps remains the same as with a veloway and would result in land and property acquisition. Not if under railway.
LXRP – 18 October email:
The proposed design of dedicated walking and cycling paths and shared use paths around the stations, will increase east-west as well as north-south connections. It will be accessible for all users with signalised traffic lights at Bell and Munro Streets and Moreland Road with a priority crossing at Reynard Street.
More detail: Concept Design with integrated Veloway (as updated October 24) (PDF)
LXRP held a stakeholder meeting on cycling issues at North Melbourne on 6 September.
They refused to allow local cycling advocates into the meeting.
Moreland Council was represented by Project Manager Richard Tolliday, Bicycle Network was represented by Garry Brennan (Bicycle Network does not communicate or intereact with local cycling advocates) and Ross Millward for Moreland Bicycle User Group was also invited.
Ross Millward outlined the content of the meeting in an email to the Moreland BUG email list (this is publicly accessible information via the Moreland BUG website) on September 11:
The Engineering Manager and Design Manager presented a drawing of a Veloway that started south of Moreland Rd on the east side of the railway reserve but had to be built on columns to the east of the current Moreland Station building as heritage considerations didn’t let them build above the existing station building.
Interestingly heritage considerations aren’t a problem when trees or signal boxes are in play! They then showed a large spiral ramp that filled the space adjacent to Shirley Robertson Children’s Centre.
I suggested that the Veloway could be considered a long distance freeway and didn’t need multiple entry and exit points.
They said that entry/exit points were needed at Moreland Station and Coburg Station in case someone undesirable was lurking halfway along the Veloway!
They then showed that their 4m Veloway would have to hang over the back of the Shirley Robertson Centre and the houses adjacent and would require property acquisition. They also showed another spiral ramp near Coburg Station.
I said that I was not convinced that they couldn’t construct an elevated Veloway as part a $500 million dollar project that elevates a 6 carriage train 10m above the ground for 2 km. Especially as the infrastructure would be in place for more than a hundred years and ABS 2016 census figures showed that 10.2% of workers rode a bicycle to work and only 6.2% caught the train for the Brunswick State Electoral District (that goes as far north as Reynard and Harding Streets) see https://quickstats.censusdata.abs.gov.au/census_services/getproduct/census/2016/quickstat/SED21303?opendocument
I suggested that if a Veloway was not possible then Moreland Station could be moved south (thus enabling some Gandolfo trees to be saved) and Coburg Station moved north or at the very least there could be stairs or lifts for people accessing the stations on foot from south of Moreland Rd and north of Bell St so that they didn’t have to cross at ground level (and will not be blocking the crossing for people who have to cross at ground level).
They said that this was not possible due to DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) requirements and because train station staff would need to be monitor everyone as soon as they got to the level of the station. Once again I was not convinced, but they were intransigent.
We then discussed their proposal for the Upfield Shared path at ground level (see Bell to Moreland Landscaping Map at https://levelcrossings.vic.gov.au/media/news/bell-to-moreland-open-space-designs-released).
Starting at the silos next to Tinning St the path would be reconstructed and head diagonally north-east to the western side of Cameron St (Brunswick) where it would be a full width shared path to Moreland Rd where it briefly curves to the west to get around the Cameron St tram stop. This means that cars entering and leaving the Cameron St (Brunswick) car park across from the tram depot will drive across the path.
I’m not sure why the path isn’t adjacent to the rail reserve and could curve east closer to Moreland Rd. The shared path continues the current alignment along Cameron St (Coburg) heading north-west to the back of the Shirley Robertson Centre where it becomes a dedicated cycle path heading north on the east side of the rail reserve until it meets Victoria St. There will be a dedicated pedestrian path on the west side of the reserve.
Good news is that people heading north/south at Reynard St will have priority over east-west traffic which will have to go over a “wombat crossing” (similar to where Capital City Trail crosses Bowen Cres). Railway Place is also a great improvement with dedicated bike path on the east and pedestrian on the west of the railway reserve. There will be a button activated pedestrian crossing at Munro St for north/south crossing. I asked whether the crossing could be activated using in-ground sensors to detect approaching bicycles. This was not something that had been considered but they said that they would explore the options.
North of Munro St the dedicated cycle path continues on the east of the railway reserve but to the west of the car park till Victoria St.
North of Victoria St the dedicated cycle path and pedestrian path merge to form a shared path which goes around the west side of the new Coburg station then diagonally northwest to a newly aligned pedestrian/cycle crossing at Bell St.
I emphasised the importance of good sight lines so that pedestrians could see people riding bikes and people riding bikes could see pedestrians. Also predictable and direct routes for people riding bikes so that pedestrians and people riding bikes could easily avoid each other.
I asked LXRP staff to take minutes of the meeting but have not yet received a copy.
Ross had only just arrived back in Melbourne from a holiday and received notice of the meeting by phone on Wednesday 4 September. He asked who were the cycling stakeholders that would be attending and was told that besides Moreland BUG, only Bicycle Network was also invited.
He suggested that the Upfield Corridor Coalition (UCC) should also be invited. When an agenda was circulated a couple of hours before the meeting and Ross realized he was the only local cycling advocate invited, he immediately informed other members of the BUG committee and members of the Upfield Corridor Coalition, who have been active in local cycling advocacy.
Three local cycling advocates, besides Ross Millward, turned up at the meeting but were prevented from attending by a flustered Communications and Engagement Manager. Reasons given for not allowing them to attend included:
- We haven’t ordered enough lunch for you
- The room is too small
- You weren’t on the invitation list (well duh)
This cycling stakeholder meeting could provide a worthwhile script for the ABC television series Utopia…
Other than at the stakeholder meeting, LXRP have still failed to brief the community on their possible designs for a veloway or interacted to address possible property aquisition issues and fully explained why a veloway is not possible.
A well known ploy when something is suggested, as the veloway repeatedly has been raised by the community, is to do a design purposefully over-designed and requiring property acquisitions which would involve a high cost. This is a straw man argument in putting forward a design without interacting with community proposals and considerations, without any listening and engagement. It is done to shoot down a proposal based on cost, even though what the community was proposing was substantially different to what the engineers and designers proposed.
LXRP need to engage and continue to consider the veloway concept design as proposed by Bob Cumming and supported by cycling advocates.
Arising from the September Council meeting, Moreland Council is currently preparing a full report on cycling issues and cycling proposals for this level crossing removal project, including the options and prospects for an elevated veloway, cycling bridges at Bell street and Moreland Road, and resolving cycling priority and congestion issues. The draft report will be presented to the Moreland Community Advocacy Reference Group (M-CARG) for condideration.
- A cycling assessment of the LXRP Concept plans published in August 2019: The Good, the bad and the plain Ugly: Assessing Coburg level crossing removal and the Upfield Bike Path
- On stations straddling main roads for improving pedestrian access, or at least providing pedestrian access to platforms from both sides of the road see: Community vision: stations straddling roads for increased pedestrian access with elevated cycle veloway