Former Bendigo mayor Laurie Whelan urged Bendigo council to improve safety measures on a dangerous stretch of Sedgwick Road

A former Bendigo mayor has urged the council to improve safety measures on a dangerous stretch of Sedgwick Road, two years after concerns for cyclists were first raised.

Laurie Whelan believes the well-used stretch of road that weaves through the forest in between Mandurang and Sedgwick is in desperate need of shoulder widening.

Cyclists and heavy vehicles frequent the area, where a cyclist was tragically killed in December.

Mr Whelan, who served on council from 1996 to 2002 and is a keen cyclist, said without a shoulder on the road cyclists have nowhere to go. 

“There’s no room. The evidence has been out there where there’s shoulder widening the roads are safer,” he said.

Sergeant Mick McCrann from the Bendigo highway patrol said of the fatality in December, “at this point in time, until there’s a coroner’s finding there’s no recommendation from police to change the road environment”.

Residents raised concerns about the stretch of road – from McCalman Place to Claremont Place – at a ward meeting two years ago, according to Mr Whelan, but no funds have been allocated in subsequent Bendigo council budgets.

Sections of Sedgwick and Mandurang Roads had sealed shoulders added three to four years ago, but the deterioration of some of them forced cyclists to use the road instead, Mr Whelan said.

Despite the need for greater safety measures, Mr Whelan said she understood council were “juggling priorities”. 

“There probably hasn’t been enough noise from the community,” he said.

City of Greater Bendigo engineering manager Brett Martini said previous works on Sedgwick Road were funded through a combination of the federal government's black spot program and council money.

“At that time the funding we had available didn't go as far as that section,” he said, adding the stretch of road remained a high priority for the future. 

As Mr Martini explained, because the black spot funding focused on accident data, there was less opportunity to apply for federal funds on a proactive basis, meaning, in this instance, council may have to contribute a significant amount toward improvements.

Aside from the incident in December, the stretch of road in question had one other minor accident over the past five years, Mr Martini said.

Based on a rough estimate, shoulder sealing along the whole of Sedgwick Road, for example, would cost $2 million, Mr Martini said.

“We'll certainly be having a look at it from a council funding perspective,” he said.

“We’re keen to have some further discussions with the cycling community about safety improvements - whether it’s shoulder sealing, increasing the signage, maintaining and sweeping the shoulders to assist the safety in the short term.” 

Mr Martini also suggested the council was looking at a more proactive program for shoulder sweeping.