Bendigo streets open to cyclists

Els Viester uses pedal power to make her own smoothie at the Bike 'n' Blend stall for Open Streets Bendigo on Saturday. Picture: JASON WALLS
Els Viester uses pedal power to make her own smoothie at the Bike 'n' Blend stall for Open Streets Bendigo on Saturday. Picture: JASON WALLS

Cycling around Bendigo got a little bit easier on Saturday with temporary measures to address gaps in the bike trail network rolled out across the city.

City of Greater Bendigo strategy manager Trevor Budge said the Open Streets Bendigo event was designed to encourage more people to make use of the dedicated bike paths and road test more permanent solutions.

“We’ve got an amazing off-road network in Bendigo, you can basically get from Crusoe reservoir south of Kangaroo Flat right up to Epsom – we’ve got a bit of a gap in the middle so we’re making Hargreaves Street a cycle street for today,” he said.

“We’ve got a few points across the city where it’s a little bit dangerous to cross a road so we’ve got some traffic control measures which allow somebody to direct the cyclists across.”

Mr Budge said a major aim of the day was to help bring down the cost of unhealthy lifestyles in Bendigo which he said Bendigo Health estimated at about $170 million per year.

“That’s the cost of bad health, so does the community want to save $170 million? Get out, do a bit more walking, do some cycling,” he said.

“We know that Bendigo’s got some major problems with obesity, bad health, not enough exercise, and it’s costing us a lot of money.”

Mr Budge said permanent measures to address the gaps in the network were the focus of the council’s ongoing investigations into the possibility of installing bike paths along the Bendigo Creek and in Hargreaves Street.

“I think actually both of them are really worthy because the creek gets you right through the city centre if you just want to do the family run right through, and if you actually want to come in and do some shopping or visit something then you need to come in through Hargreaves Street, so both of those are being actively investigated by the council to determine what sort of costs are involved and what the feasibility is,” he said.

“Both of them have got a few issues, a couple of roads to cross, you’ve got some heritage creek there with all that sandstone and we’ve also got an issue that the creek is, of course, carrying a lot of water at various times of the year so safety would have to be a critical aspect of that.”

Mr Budge said many of the city’s other cycling tracks already connected up with each other, but the council was also focusing on closing those gaps as well, including in the planned upgrade of Napier Street.

“We’ve got a great advantage in Bendigo because we have got this network of creeks and tributaries so it actually gives us the spine to do this, but there are also going to be places where the most logical thing to do is to use the road network,” he said.

“There’s a lot of work being done with Napier Street at the moment as to how we can reduce congestion but also make it much safer for cyclists.”

Open Streets Bendigo runs until 4pm on Saturday, with traffic control measures in place at Hargreaves Street, Napier Street and the McIvor Highway and the Hargreaves Mall open to cyclists.

An innovation hub at the Civic Gardens next to the town hall is also showcasing electric bikes, cargo bikes and rear view mirrors among other new ideas for making cycling safer and easier.