By Luke Voogt
Construction began on a bike network from Geelong to Herne Hill on Monday with workers installing features to help cyclists share the road.
Geelong’s council announced workers would complete the project progressively in small stages to minimise disruption to local residents and traffic.
The cost for the western link is $1,627,000 with an additional $343,000 for design and engagement, according to council documents.
“These works are a step in the right direction towards having a more connected and reliable transport system in Geelong,” deputy mayor Peter Murrihy said.
“These improvements will help make cyclists’ journeys safer, whilst keeping traffic flowing.
“I’d like to thank residents and drivers for their patience, as the staged works get underway.”
The works will include new and modified crossings, line markings, speed humps and signage on Villamanta and Gertrude streets and Sydenham Ave.
The shared use system would give priority to cyclists and slow traffic, according to council’s Better Bike Connections webpage.
Council expected to complete the works by the end of 2019 and stated they would allow cars and bikes to safely share the designated roads.
Early in 2018 council surveyed almost 300 people on the western link, with 82 per cent supporting the plans and 14 per cent opposing it (four per cent neutral).
The works began after council on 30 April voted to put to tender the more contentious southern link of its bicycle network along Moorabool and High streets.
High St traders argued the bike lanes would ruin local commerce by reducing parking and posed a safety threat to elderly shoppers.
Traders and Victoria’s opposition have called for council to shift the route from High St to Francis St.
But TAC committed $4,923,000 for the project and warned it would withdraw the funding if council designated a new route.
Cycling advocates and City Hall argued the lanes would reduce congestion and encourage more people to cycle, describing the project as a chance to beautify High St.
City Hall has a goal of half of commuters travelling to work by public transport, walking or cycling.
Councillors Stephanie Asher, Sarah Mansfield, Bruce Harwood, Peter Murrihy, Jim Mason and Pat Murnane voted for the project following a heated debate.
Councillors Eddy Kontelj, Ron Nelson and Trent Sullivan opposed the motion.
Councillor Kylie Grzybek abstained from the vote as she works for TAC. Councillor Anthony Aitken also declared a conflict of interest as he owns a property in High St.