Bike path goes back to the drawing board
by JAMES POYNER
5th July 2021
COMMUNITY ACTION against the proposed Taroona Avenue bike path has won, and Council is going back to the drawing board to come up with a design more fitting with the surrounding environment and the needs of the community.
Following the advertising of an updated plan for the shared path in April/May this year; plans which left more questions than answers regarding the appropriateness of the design and which trees were going to be removed.
Nearby residents and users of Taroona Avenue and adjacent areas were spurred into action to submit their objection to the planned path. At a submitters meeting, in early June, a number of locals, including Jozica Kutin, Doug Seymour, and Warrandyte Community Association President Terry Tovey were in attendance and have supplied the Diary with the following comments: “There were quite a few people in attendance,” begins Ms Kutin.
“The council meeting chair pointed out that the application and meeting was only about the removal of trees — nothing else. “However, it was clear that many people wanted to, and did, express their concerns about the actual design of the path, the materials from which it is going to be constructed and the route it was taking.
“Doug Seymour presented an overview of the previous path plan (a board walk on the creek end) side of the road at the Everard end and suggested this was still a viable option — the council engineer didn’t think so — and pointed out that when they built boardwalks in Wonga Park, the residents did not like them,” she said. Mr Seymour told the Diary he had been nominated by the WCA in 2017 to work with Council on the original plans. In the June edition of the Diary, Manningham Mayor, Andrew Conlon said Council had “recently gone back out to nearby residents with an updated design” but Mr Seymour says neither he nor Bev Hanson, who provided consultation on the 2017 design, were notified changes to the original design had even been drafted.
“I don’t recall the final 2018 drawings being forwarded to Bev and me for comment; on reflection the 2018 location of proposed crossing could have been improved, but overall, the design had merit. “The latest design for the path departs significantly from that previous concept, particularly in the use of a rigid concrete pavement and the deletion of the boardwalk in favour of squeezing the path past a couple of those magnificent trees on the east (oval) side on the edge of the road pavement.
“The boardwalk solution at this tight spot guided users behind the trees, much as boardwalks are built around the world take us through sensitive forests without disturbing the habitat. “A method worthy of closer consideration by Council and, moving the path back from the road pavement also allows parking to continue. “Both editions of the design include a crossing from east to west near the intersection of First Street to avoid the narrow and vegetated verge alongside Andersons Creek as Everard Drive is
approached. “The current design locates the crossing on a crest allowing good visual checks but as a local objector pointed out at the Objectors meeting there is a boundary error on the drawings which complicate this detail. “Warrandyte’s impressive skills pool was demonstrated by the presentations at the recent Objectors meeting; I find myself working with locals who are positively working on alternative concepts to help present imaginative solutions to the forthcoming Community Forum,” he said.
Glenn Jameson drew the Objectors meeting to the need for improved attention to a good drainage outcome, point discharges being a big problem: “Curb and channel and drainage pits are proposed for a site that I’ve never ever noticed any drainage problems. Presently excess water flows into the creek along a broad flat creek bank area thereby avoiding hydraulic pressure causing erosion. How will the water collected by the proposed drainage system be treated as it goes into Andersons Creek?
If the road drainage along Everard drive is anything to go on, then it will be another dysfunctional road drainage effort by Council. Everywhere the road drainage goes into the Warrandyte State Park from Everard Drive, there has been massive erosion from single pipe discharge with unprotected impact points, which is still ongoing and which the Council have been unable or unwilling to find a creative solution to. Consequently, metres of soils have eroded from the Warrandyte State Park into the Yarra River causing all sorts of environmental damage. Trees have been undermined and fallen into the river; weeds have enjoyed the excess water; as well as creating eroding holes that are a danger to people using the park. Manningham needs and can do better than this.” Council had placed the path in its Bicycle Strategy Plan 2013 and had heralded it as one step closer to linking Warrandyte to the Main Yarra Trail, but as a local walker, runner and cyclist, Ms Kutin felt there were better ways in which Council could spend funds set aside as part of the Bicycle Strategy. “As a local cyclist, runner and walker — I use this area a lot. I was a bit taken aback by council representatives talking about this section ‘as an important missing link in the Yarra Trail’. I would have to say that the most important missing links were: between Beasley’s Nursery and the High School, then the section between Pound Road and Taroona Avenue — these sections have no paths and the alternative is walking or riding on the incredibly busy Warrandyte-Heidelberg Road. But, of course, these are difficult and presumably expensive sections to tackle. Taroona Avenue is low hanging fruit. I have witnessed my fellow riding friends being almost side swiped by trucks riding the section between Beasley’s and the High School — the truck in question having no regard for keeping their distance from cyclists. Touting of this section by council as an ‘important missing link’ misrepresents these issues.
It is the least important missing link — Taroona Avenue is a relatively quiet road for cyclists. Taroona Avenue could benefit from a path but if it doesn’t follow how people already use the road they will continue to walk on the road or the shoulder. “Take the path on Everard Road between Yarra Street and Taroona Avenue as an example — or even the footpath on West End Road. For some reason, people in Warrandyte love walking on their roads. The shoulder on the opposite side of the creek near Everard is very muddy at the moment — but this is also an informal over-flow parking area on busy weekends. As a cyclist, I’m likely to continue to use the bitumen on Taroona
Avenue to access the river path and surrounding areas — with or without a shared path,” she said.
On June 25, Council informed submitters that the advertised plans have been withdrawn “to allow for further consultation and time to review the design”. The email goes on to say: “A public information session is planned to be held at the Warrandyte Sports Pavilion, Warrandyte Reserve in coming weeks. This will be a feedback session on a suitable path and to discuss options to overcome the concerns raised by the community. I can advise that Council will not be proceeding with the proposed contract for the works and has withdrawn the contract.” WCA applauded the Council on their June 25 decision, and WCA President, Terry Tovey encouraged residents, and sporting groups to attend the proposed community session. “We are delighted that Council has responded to the 25 objections and the expert presentations made during a recent objectors meeting. “This side of Taroona Avenue is packed with cars during sports and market days, and we are therefore amazed that no parking impact study was undertaken by council to inform the design. “We would urge the sports clubs affected and the market committee to register their interest in attending a council forum which is planned to discuss the project,” he said. The WCA is currently working with residents and expert Association members to develop a submission setting out a less urban and more imaginative solution, which respects Warrandyte’s leafy bush landscape while maintaining much needed parking for community activities. Mr Seymour said the outcome of this whole process needs to consider ‘what works for Warrandyte’. “There is a body of opinion that Warrandyte does not need this path and in fact doesn’t want it because it would ruin a valued streetscape,”he said. The Diary will continue to report as this story develops and will publish dates for the community information sessions when they are released.