An urban designer who had a hand in designing Maude St Mall and Victoria Park Lake believes Shepparton would see a raft of benefits from a north-south cycling spine connecting key areas of the city.
Urban designer Bruce Echberg said a safer, separated cycling corridor through Shepparton would provide obvious health benefits, relieve congestion and demand for parking and boost the mobility of ageing Sheppartonians.
|Bruce Echberg of Urban Initiatives.|
Mr Echberg believed incorporating several kilometres of safe cycling infrastructure, well separated from traffic, linking the sports precinct in the north and Emerald Bank in the south, would go lengths to developing cycling as a viable, user-friendly, safe mode of transport in Shepparton.
‘‘There’s different types of cyclists . . . There’s the lycra types, a lot are younger males who are keen to take risks,’’ he said.
‘‘And all sorts who don’t (cycle) because they don’t feel safe.
‘‘It’s now becoming evident you have to provide fully safe cycling environments if you want others to cycle to get to work and do daily chores.’’
He said Shepparton had a good climate and topography for developing a better bicycle culture.
The designer said residential development on the city’s fringes meant future residents would be either driving to shopping centres or working, driving and parking in the central business district.
He believed Wyndham St being signalised, combined with the width of the prominent north-south arterial, meant constructing a safe cycling corridor along the route was achievable.
‘‘There’s so much space in Shepparton’s street system that’s given over to parked cars, that squeezing a bit of that back is not a big issue, you just have to do the design work.’’
Ideally, the infrastructure would be at footpath level to ensure it was well clear of opening car doors, Mr Echberg said.
He said plenty of trails existed in the region, but they proved an indirect way to get somewhere. ‘‘Often you have to drive to get on to that system,’’ Mr Echberg said.
Mr Echberg said a northsouth cycling route would enhance the network by improving access to trails.
But he said it would need to be safe, appealing to use and convenient, to make sure a cross section of the community wanted to make use of it on a daily basis.
A council survey this year found significant demand for more walking and cycling options, with just 11 per cent identifying cycling as a primary mode of transportation the Movement and Place Strategy Consultation Report and Vision and Direction Paper.
Only 36 per cent had said it was easy to cycle in Greater Shepparton compared with 80 per cent saying it was easy to drive, with requests for improved walking and cycling infrastructure such as bike lanes common themes.
Implementing strategies to make walking or cycling safer and more appealing were supported by 87 per cent of respondents.
Amid the health benefits associated with shifting away from car use, Mr Echberg cited improving transport options for Shepparton’s ageing population as one of the keys to such proposals, but said safety seemed to be a barrier.
This story by Thomas Moir is from the Shepparton News “Link cycle city,”