Push for bike trail upgrades in Bendigo region

BENDIGO cyclists say bike trails are in need of more upgrades to boost cycling tourism in the region.

Local cycling group Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail say investment in projects such as the multimillion dollar O’Keefe Rail Trail, which is still under construction, could be used as an important way of drawing visitors from interstate and overseas.

The group’s convenor, Garry Long, said the trail – which follows the disused Bendigo to Heathcote railway line – would be one of the most unique cycling trails in Australia when it was completed in late 2014.

He said the City of Greater Bendigo must continue to invest in other trails or risk missing out on the growing industry of cycling tourism.

“Unfortunately Bendigo hasn’t got a strong focus on (cycling tourism). It’s booming everywhere else around Australia and in New Zealand particularly, and we’re hoping council recognises the need to keep investing in trails and paths.”

Mr Long said initial discussions had taken place between the group and the City of Greater Bendigo’s tourism unit to look at the best ways of maximising  cycling-related tourism.

He said the group also wanted to see greater investment in the Bendigo Bushland Trail and the Bendigo Creek Trail.

Construction of the O’Keefe trail is continuing in Axedale, with more extensions planned to Heathcote.

Council asset planning and design manager Brett Martini said six new bridges and surface and drainage upgrades had already been completed.

The $3.2 million extension of the O’Keefe Rail Trail has been funded with $1.9 million from the state government’s Regional Infrastructure Development fund and a $1.3 million contribution from the City of Greater Bendigo.

Mr Long said he was hoping the council could look at a feasibility study into extending the O’Keefe Rail Trail even further.

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