Libs oppose High St lanes

BIKE ALTERNATIVE: Opposition Leader Matthew Guy with Freya Fidge, Ron Nelson, Andrew Katos, Vincent Albanese and other High St traders.(Rebecca Hosking) 183562.

By Luke Voogt

Council’s proposed bike network would detour High St to protect traders under a coalition government, state opposition leader Matthew Guy has vowed.

“No one is against bike paths, we just don’t want them in High St,” he told the Indy on Wednesday.

Mr Guy made the commitment amid fears car parking losses would decimate trade between Roslyn Rd and Mt Pleasant Rd.

“All evidence will tell you if you remove on-street parking it will kill the strip,” he said.

Council this week released four designs for the controversial section of the bike network, which it will vote on in October following public consultation.

TAC allocated $4.7 million for council’s planned Principal Bicycle Network after designating the routes with cycling groups.

Recently the authority warned council would lose the funding if it changed the route.

But if elected in November, the coalition would direct TAC to make the funding available regardless, Mr Guy said.

He said Geelong’s council should choose the route, not TAC, and proposed Francis Street as a “common sense” alternative.

He declined to say if he would support ratepayers choosing High Street as a preferred route but described the outcome as unlikely.

Mr Guy said Geelong cycling advocates that argued bike paths would attract more shoppers to the strip were “dreaming”.

He met with about 20 High Street traders including Vincent Albanese, who said the paths posed a risk to elderly shoppers.

“They can easily step onto the bike lanes and bang!”

Cafe owner Marje Rankin described the coalition’s alternate route as a “brilliant idea”.

A few elderly shoppers in High Street approached Mr Guy to show their support, including Bob Treseder, who described the bike plans as “a recipe for disaster”.

South Barwon MP Andrew Katos, who has presented 2735 signatures against the plans to parliament, suggested Church or Thompson Sts as other alternatives.

In briefing on Tuesday Bruce Harwood indicated council could consider alternative routes.

“At this point in time High Street is the option we have been given by the TAC, that’s sort of where (our) energies are being directed,” he said.

Cr Harwood described the project as a great opportunity to revitalise and beautify the strip.

In a statement on Wednesday Geelong Labor MP Christine Couzens praised council for releasing the plans to give ratepayers “their say on the future of the street“.

The Andrews State Government allocated the $4.7 million for the bike network.

“Safe bike paths are a part of any modern city, providing the community with choices on how they commute around their streets,“ Ms Couzens said.

“The new bike path will also enable streetscape improvement to High Street providing a more attractive customer experience. “