Box Hill to Ringwood shared use path FAQs

Why has the southern alignment been selected for the Blackburn section?

The key factors in determining the alignment of the shared use path are safety, accessibility and connectivity, impacts to vegetation and outcomes for the community. The southern alignment has been assessed to provide the best outcomes for the community. The influencing factors in this decision include:
  • better separation of commuters and shared path users at Blackburn Station;
  • no impact on Blackburn Village car parking or Station car parking;
  • an underpass at Blackburn Road,
  • better connectivity with Morton Park, Blackburn Library, Blackburn Lake, residential areas and schools;
  • no difference with access to the Mega Mile;
  • provides a higher standard path between Blackburn and Oliver Avenue, and
  • addresses land constraints at Boral Concrete plant and Silver Grove reserve

Better separation of commuters and shared path users

Why is the south side of Blackburn Station preferred for the SUP?

There has been much talk in the community about putting the shared use path (SUP) on the north side of Blackburn Station to avoid conflicts and provide better visibility.

We know that both sides of the station have similar numbers of pedestrian movements (a November 2015 survey indicated 48% on the north and 52% on the south), so there is not a quiet side. We also know that physically there is much more space on the south side of the station than the north. This enables us to separate the movements of shared path users and station commuters by designing dedicated areas for people waiting at bus shelters. This minimises conflict and creates a safer space for everyone.

The additional space available at the southern forecourt also ensures station commuters and path users have better visibility of each other. A southern alignment provides direct connections with the bicycle lockers, the craft market, the playground and Blackburn Village traders, and the underpass at Blackburn Road.

Along the entire SUP, the path connects with each station.  At each station a shared space will be created to enable path users and commuters to co-exist. Visual cues such as different pavement colours and materials, wider spaces, signs and line marking notify path users that the path has transitioned to a shared space. Cyclists will not be required to dismount in station areas.

If growth is expected to the north of Blackburn Station, shouldn’t the shared use path be put on the north side?

We know that zoning to the north and west of Blackburn Station allows for high density development. Increase in density will mean more people using the north side of the station, which means more conflict in the limited space for a north side SUP.

With improvements to the station underpass, boom gates removed at the level crossing and the footpaths at Blackburn Road widened, pedestrians, motorists and cyclists will be able to move around Blackburn Village much more safely and easily.

No loss of parking

Will parking be removed at Blackburn Station?

No, parking will not be removed at Blackburn Station with a southern path.  

To connect the shared path from Blackburn Station to Blackburn Road on the north side, the path would need to cross the rail car park and follow the Railway Road footpath. As a result, on street parking, street trees and commuter car parking spaces would need to be removed. 

Underpass at Blackburn Road

Will the path go under Blackburn Road?

An underpass can be constructed with a southern alignment. By constructing an underpass on the southern side, pedestrians, cyclists and road users all benefit from increase safety and reduced delays as a result of the underpass.

Due to the limited width available and the location of underground services and drainage pipes, an underpass on Blackburn Road on the north side of the railway cannot be achieved. If the path was along the northern side, cyclists and pedestrians would be required to cross Blackburn Road at an additional set of traffic signals.

Better connectivity

Will there be connectivity with Morton Park, Blackburn Library and Blackburn Lake?

Yes, a key objective of the bike path is to connect local communities with local facilities.  A path on the south side connects residents with Blackburn Station, Blackburn village shops, Blackburn Library, Morton Park sporting facilities, schools and Blackburn Lake.

What about connections to the Mega Mile?

As part of the level crossing removal works, new pedestrian bridges will replace the existing rail crossings at Cottage Street and Oliver Avenue, maintaining existing access to the Mega Mile.

A bike path on the north side will not provide any additional connections to the Mega Mile compared to a southern path.  It cannot continue beyond Moncrief Road due to land availability (see next question in these FAQs) and would need to cross to the south side at Oliver Avenue. A southern path does not preclude a possible link to Metropolitan Avenue and Moncrief Road in the future, and provides a straight route without needing to cross back and forth over bridges.

Why can’t the path be on the north between Blackburn Road and Oliver Avenue?

A southern path provides a direct, full width and smooth path from Blackburn Road to Springvale Road, linking with an underpass of Blackburn Road.

A path on the north side between Blackburn Road and Oliver Avenue is possible, however it would provide a lower level of service. It would require localised narrow points due to rail infrastructure, and on a number of occasions per year, path closure for maintenance access. The path will also have service pit lids to access rail cables and grated drainage pits to collect storm water, increasing the risk of bumps, slips and trips. It does not have an underpass at Blackburn Road and would need to cross to the south at Oliver Avenue.

Land restrictions

Why can"t the path go on the north from Oliver Avenue to Springvale Road?

A path on the north side is not possible past the Boral site without land acquisition. A number of meetings have been held with Boral to discuss possible options and the outcome remains that any loss of land to Boral will be detrimental to the operation of their plant. Any proposal to swap with vacant land in the Silver Grove reserve next to Boral is not acceptable as easements make the land unusable for Boral.

Also, there is no provision for a path through Silver Grove and any changes to existing car parks and access will need council approval. Therefore, the SUP will need to be on the south side from Oliver Avenue to Springvale Road, whether a northern or southern path is built elsewhere.

What is the impact of the SUP to vegetation at Morton Park and parallel to Glen Ebor Avenue?

The SUP does not impact vegetation at this location. Level Crossing Road Authority (LXRA) is trimming some trees and removing others to enable piling (drilling) machines and cranes along the rail corridor so that the railway can be lowered under Blackburn Road. A five meter wide access track is required to move the machines around without height restrictions, hence the vegetation impacts.

The piling machines are required to drill 1.2m holes into the ground so that steel cages and concrete can be put in the holes, creating piles. Over 1000 of these piles are required from Blackburn Station to Cromwell Court to create retaining walls along both sides of the railway. Once complete, the ground between the retaining walls can be removed and new tracks installed.

Following the rail works, the SUP will be constructed along the south side of the railway in the same space where the piling rigs once worked. 

LXRA is committed to retaining as many trees as possible. This includes reviewing and changing the construction methodology and project designs in consultation with arborists to achieve better outcomes for vegetation. The final tree removal plans will be determined in mid-2016, with trees being trimmed where possible as opposed to being removed. Remaining trees which have been retained will be re-assessed for health and stability in 2017 following completion of the project.

In addition, the Project will include a landscaping vegetation plan to offset tree removal. The project is  finalising the preliminary landscaping plan with the Whitehorse City Council and will be consulting with the Blackburn Tree Preservation Society and the Blackburn Village Resident's Group for input, starting mid-2016.

What about properties that share a boundary with the shared use path?

LXRA is working with residents who share a boundary along the shared use path alignment. If you are an impacted resident and have concerns please contact LXRA on 1800 762 667 or email [email protected].

Why is the path being constructed as part of the level crossing removal project?

To maximise construction efficiencies and minimise disruption to the community, the Blackburn section of the path will be delivered by the alliance who are delivering the Blackburn and Heatherdale Level Crossing Removal Projects.  The alliance is made up of VicRoads, Public Transport Victoria, Metro Trains Melbourne, CPB Contractors, Aurecon and Arcadis.

When will it be completed?

The Blackburn section of the SUP is expected to be completed in 2017.

Why has a southern alignment been selected for the Laburnum section?

The key factors in determining the alignment of the shared use path are safety, accessibility and connectivity, impacts to vegetation and outcomes for the community.  The proposed southern alignment has been assessed to provide the best outcomes for the community.

A key influencing factor in this decision is the ability for the section to connect with adjoining sections, particularly at Blackburn Station.

In the Laburnum Section there are lots of similarities between a northern and southern route. Both have:
  • similar lengths of off-road path 
  • similar lengths of on-road path, on both quiet and moderately trafficked streets
  • similar challenges with road crossings and parking
  • similar vegetation impacts, depending on the exact route chosen

With the path on the southern side at Blackburn Station (for reasons described previously in these FAQs), the path would need to cross the tracks west of the station to connect with a northern alignment. Crossing in this area would require significant vegetation removal and it would most likely result in an overpass which is visually intrusive to local amenity. In either case, providing connections over or under train lines is expensive and a crossing cannot be constructed within the current funding.

As well as our own investigation, we also engaged independent consultants, Parsons Brinckerhoff and SMEC, who also found that the southern alignment provides a higher level of service when compared with the northern alignment due to the limitations with crossing from the north to the south of the rail line.

Is there funding available for an overpass or underpass so the path can cross back to the south side before Blackburn Station?

The Victorian Government has provided $14.8 million to construct the whole path from Box Hill to Ringwood. Our estimates, and estimates by independent consultants, have indicated an underpass or overpass would cost in the vicinity of $5-$10 million depending on the final solution. Therefore construction of the whole bike path with an additional rail crossing cannot be accommodated within the existing project budget. 

It is not practical to cross under the rail bridge along Laburnum Street due to the narrow span of the bridge.

What are you doing around Laburnum Station? 

A path through Laburnum Station Park provides the opportunity to build a full width, off-road path while maintaining open space. The path will be built along the southern boundary of the park, not impacting on the existing garden bed and trees behind property fences. We will also  work with Whitehorse City Council and the community to provide additional tree planting and landscaping to improve the park experience for everyone. 

This alignment limits conflicts between commuters accessing Laburnum Station and path users, and will only require two trees to be removed. Widening the existing station ramp will mean removal of at least 11 trees.

A path on the north side of the station would be possible with a northern alignment, although all options impact existing conditions to differing degrees. Impacts include tree removal, loss of station car parking and/or mixing cyclists with commuters on the station access ramp. 

Can a path go on the north from Laburnum Station to Railway Road?

A path can be constructed through the rail corridor between Laburnum Station and Railway Road, however there are a number of considerations which reduce the practicality of this alignment, as follows:
  • there is limited width through most of the corridor so the path would be narrower than desirable
  • there are a number of large trees that would require removal as a result of this option
  • there is a major Melbourne Water drain which has a number of conditions, including the path must be built above 1 in 10 year flood levels and any structures cannot block 24/7 access, or reduce the volume of water to be held in a flood event 
  • the land is reserved for a possible future third rail track to Blackburn, which if built would remove the path
  • existing rail infrastructure needs to be relocated

Why did you propose going through Elmore Walk?

We understand that Elmore walk is an area of local significance for the community.  We have learnt that Algernon Elmore was a builder in the Blackburn area in the 1920s and 1930s, and donated Elmore Walk to the community as a laneway. We know the members of the local community have put a lot of effort into improving the environment and appeal of Elmore Walk and we share their interest in ensuring it remains a place of local significance.  

We believe that Elmore Walk is the best connection between Laburnum Street and South Parade for the following reasons: 
  • It is safer than other on-road options
  • It provides the most direct route to connect Laburnum Street and South Parade
  • This route uses a shorter length of Laburnum Street and avoids interactions with buses or street trading in Main Street
  • It is an existing connection which is already used by pedestrians and cyclists 
  • It improves the visual experience for path users

We believe cyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities can feel safe and comfortable to ride through Elmore Walk which is the key objective of a shared use path. 

If you can’t go through Elmore Walk, does that mean the southern alignment won’t work? 

We need to link the path between Middleborough Road and Blackburn Station. It is possible to construct the southern alignment without using Elmore Walk. We have assessed that alternative southern alignments will still provide a better outcome for the path than a northern alignment.

As well as the work we have already done for a design for the path through Elmore Walk, we will continue to investigate options between Laburnum Station and Blackburn Station to connect to the path at Blackburn Station. We will work with the community through all these options and we will be seeking input from the community to understand your views on the proposed options for the Laburnum section. 

Will there be tree removal if Laburnum Street is used?

No, whether the path goes on or off-road along Laburnum Street, there will no loss of trees from the street. 

In December 2015 at our community information sessions, we proposed an option to widen the existing northern footpath by half a metre (between trees). This route was proposed to separate bikes from moving and parked cars and was achievable without any impact to trees on Laburnum Street. 

Following community feedback, an on-road alignment was presented to Council earlier in the year, with detail to be developed following the confirmation of the alignment. We will be seeking input from all members of the community to understand your views on south side alignment options for the Laburnum section between Middleborough Road and Blackburn Station. We’ll commence consultation in June and details about how you can participate will be available on our website and via letterbox drop. 

What would an on-road path look like on Laburnum Street?

A southern alignment along Laburnum Street could involve an on-road solution from Laburnum Station to Blackburn Station. In the coming months, we’ll work closely with Laburnum Street residents and traders, the wider community and other stakeholders to progress options. Options for an on-road solution can include one or a combination of the following treatments:
  • Pavement marking
  • Lower speed limits
  • Parking removal
  • Indented parking
  • Road narrowing’s
  • Speed humps
  • Signage
  • Planter boxes
  • One-way or two way bike lanes

We encourage the community to provide ideas.

What does a southern alignment mean for Laburnum Village? 

A southern path will connect the path users with Laburnum Village and the South Parade traders.

Part of the Box Hill section from Linsley Street to Sagoe Lane was completed in May 2015 and is.  This is being widely used by commuters to and from Box Hill Station, Box Hill Shopping Centre, Box Hill TAFE and Box Hill High School.  

We are undertaking some design refinement for the part from Sagoe Lane to Middleborough Road to achieve the best solution for this section.

We are continuing to develop the detailed design for this section and will be seeking input from relevant stakeholders and community members.

The Heatherdale section of the path from Brunswick Road, Mitcham to EastLink, Ringwood is being delivered by the Heatherdale Level Crossing Removal Project. 

The path runs almost entirely along the rail corridor, and includes new bridges over Cochrane Street and between Witt Street and Purches Street. 

Following community feedback and design review, we assessed that moving the path from the south side of the rail to the north between Witt Street and Heatherdale Road would improve connectivity and reduce impacts on the community. 

Works to remove the Heatherdale Road level crossing have begun and the path is scheduled to be opened in 2017. 

Why does Albert Street need to be used for this Ringwood section?

We investigated numerous east-west connections between Heatherdale Station and Ringwood Station including along:

  • Maroondah Highway
  • the north and south sides of the railway line
  • Molan Street, Albert Street and south of Albert Street.
Options to the north of the railway tracks weren’t possible due to the inability to return to the south side of the railway tracks to re-join with the existing path.

The option south of Albert Street provided less safety and a longer route, and was therefore considered inappropriate.

Prior to this alignment, what options did you investigate for Albert Street?

There were initially two route options for the Albert Street section.

One was an off-road option along the Albert Street northern nature strip that would require significant tree removal. Stakeholder and the community did not support this option.

The other option we presented in December 2016 was to build an on-road path. This option would keep the trees but would convert Albert Street into a one-way street, removing parking at the west end. We had mixed feedback regarding this option from the community.

Why wasn’t this revised off-road option presented earlier?

When we previously consulted with the community there was signalling infrastructure along the rail reserve. This infrastructure was unable to be moved within our project scope and prevented the opportunity for the path to run along the south side of the railway tracks. This would have resulted in the significant tree removal along Albert Street.

As part of the Heatherdale level crossing removal project, the existing infrastructure has now been removed and has presented the opportunity to keep the path off-road and retain most of the mature trees. This addresses the two key objectives of stakeholders, the community and the project.

How many trees need to be removed?

There are 14 trees in the Albert Street nature strip that are in line with the path. We worked with Council and independent arborists, who told us that four of these are worthy of being kept. The other 10 are in poor health or of a less desirible variety. We plan to retain two of these trees by shifting the path around them, however unfortunately the other two will be impacted wherever we move the path.

In response to our impacts, we proposed to tidy the existing vegetation along the rail batter and provide some new vegetation that is appropriate close to railway tracks.

Why isn’t the path going off-road on the north side of railway tracks?

This option wasn’t considered beyond feasibility as the path needs to return to the south side of the tracks at Ringwood Station.

There is not enough space for a safe north-south connection at Wantirna Road or New Street, therefore a new bridge or underpass would need to be constructed to make this option work.

It would also require the removal of many car parks between New Street and Wantirna Road.

What opportunities are there to provide feedback?

We returned to the local community in mid-May to gather more feedback through our online survey, on a revised alignment of the shared use path along Albert Street.

Thanks to everyone who particiated, we're currently reviewing your feedback and finalising the final designs.

What is a Shared Use Path (SUP)?

A SUP is a path that pedestrians and cyclists can use. One of the key objectives of a SUP is to separate cyclists and pedestrians from vehicles, creating a safer environment for all transport modes. Building SUPs allows people of varying age and ability to be more confident walking or cycling.  

Who has right of way on a SUP?

On a shared use path, pedestrians have the right of way and cyclists must legally give way to pedestrians. This is legislated in Victorian Road Rule 250. A SUP is not designed for high speed riders, and alternative facilities such as riding on the road are available for those who feel confident in doing so.

It is important that those using shared paths take responsibility for how they use and share the space. We will always construct safe facilities, ensuring there is appropriate and clear signage where necessary; however it is everyone’s responsibility to behave safely and obey the rules, as required for vehicles on roads. You can read more about cycling rules here

Will cyclists be required to dismount anywhere along the path?

The Box Hill to Ringwood Bike Path will provide a continuous connection for pedestrians and cyclists from Box Hill to Ringwood. It is our intention that cyclists will not be required to dismount along the path. 

Why can’t the path go through car parks?

Some proposals for a northern alignment have included routing the bike path through car parks. VicRoads, PTV, VicTrack and Metro Trains Melbourne all hold the view that SUPs should not travel through a car park. This is due to the danger posed by cars entering, moving and reversing around the car park. 

In addition, the Victorian government is committed to maintaining, and expanding where possible, commuter car parking spaces at train stations across the state. Any option that requires removal of commuter parking spaces is not a viable option for the project.

Will my property be less secure due to the shared use path behind private property fences?

The presence of graffiti demonstrates that people currently access the rail corridor. Crime statistics show that more burglaries occur during the day than overnight in Victoria. 
By constructing a SUP behind properties, the use of the rail corridor will increase during the day with cyclists, walkers and joggers providing passive surveillance, therefore discouraging crime. 

Where our path is constructed behind residential properties, discussions will take place with land owners regarding site specific impacts. In locations where the path will be higher than the current natural surface, fence heights can be increased to improve privacy.

What are the required standards?

There are no Australian standards for bicycle paths, only guidelines to assist with consistency in design. Desirable levels have been provided where possible, however it is important to note that the guidelines intend the use of Context Sensitive Design, allowing flexibility in a built up environment where designs are heavily constrained by existing development.

The key to design is to balance the project’s needs with the many inputs received, to arrive at the most appropriate solution in consideration of user safety, project objectives, stakeholder needs, community opinion, conformance with design guidelines and project scope and budget.

The AustRoads Cycling Aspects of AustRoads Guides contains the relevant guidelines for designing on and off road bicycle facilities and has been used to assist in the development of the proposed shared use path.

Why is the entire bike path not being constructed through the rail reserve as originally planned?

The Box Hill to Ringwood bike path was a project initially identified by the Whitehorse Cyclist Incorporated. The local bike group gathered community, council and government support, and the Victorian Government has subsequently provided $14.8 million to VicRoads to construct the Box Hill to Ringwood Bike Path, 

The Whitehorse Cyclist’s path report, the Whitehorse City Council path investigation report, and the Victorian Government Business Case report all identified a lack of available space in the rail corridor between Middleborough Road and Blackburn Station. Their proposed preferred routes were all outside the rail corridor along Laburnum Street. 

We have also completed further investigations to utilise the rail corridor in this section, and have reached the same conclusion. The Community Northern Alignment has been submitted to VicRoads and we have assessed the feasibility of this alignment. We believe the southern alignment provides a better level of service to path users and the community. 

Can the path be built on the north side?

Yes, a path can be built on the north side of the railway from Middleborough Road to Blackburn Station, however it will result in a lower level of service for path users. The reasons a northern alignment provides a lower level of service are detailed elsewhere in these FAQs.  

The project aims to deliver a high standard path linking the communities between Box Hill and Ringwood, as well as connecting existing bike routes from the city to Ferntree Gully. A high standard path with low stress levels for riders will help encourage use by all skill levels and ages, providing transport options for locals. A southern path will provide a better level of service and provide a facility that more people can comfortably use.

Why haven’t we developed detailed designs on the southern alignment?

The path is a 10km link through a built up area. We have broken the length into sections to enable us to progress development and delivery of sections to the community. Each section has multiple possibilities for its alignment and we have used a multi-criteria assessment to determine a preferred alignment. 

We have undertaken significant investigations to understand the benefits and challenges of each option, without needing to undertake detailed designs. This is what we presented to Councils in our February 2016 report. To undertake detailed designs on all possible options would take a very long time and consume significant amounts of the project budget.

Detailed designs begin following confirmation of a final alignment, and will include consultation with the community and other stakeholders.

How much of the Box Hill to Ringwood path is off-road and how much is on-road?

The original project scope had 57% of the path off-road. Through design refinement and as a result of the level crossing removal works, we have been able to achieve over 90% of the path off-road with the final proposed alignment. 

Where the path is off-road, is it a shared use path, however some sections are not able to be constructed as an off-road shared use path. This may be because there is no room in the rail corridor or in nature strip besides the road, or where there are low on-road vehicles numbers allowing for a safe alternative while retaining trees. For these sections, pedestrians will use the footpath and cyclists will ride on the road. 

What would an on-road path look like?

An on-road path solution can include one or a combination of the following treatments:
  • Pavement marking
  • Lower speed limits
  • Parking removal
  • Indented parking
  • Road narrowing’s
  • Speed humps
  • Signage
  • Planter boxes
  • One-way or two way bike lanes

What are the impacts to vegetation due to the SUP?

We are committed to minimising the impact of these works on the environment. The design of the project has specifically been developed in a way that protects and retains as many trees as possible. 

We’re working with environmental experts, council, relevant authorities and community groups to ensure we maintain our commitment to protecting the environment. 

We have already successfully constructed one part of the Box Hill Section alongside an existing garden bed, and behind property fences where tree health remains strong. We encourage you to have a look for yourself on foot or by bicycle between Linsley Street and Sagoe Lane, Box Hill.

If you would like information about vegetation impacts at a specific area along the path, you can contact the project team to find out [email protected] or call (03) 9872 7000. 

VicRoads has received endorsement of the alignment of the shared use path (SUP) for the Box Hill, Nunawading, Heatherdale and Ringwood sections of the bike path. We are continuing to develop the detailed designs for these sections with the input of all relevant stakeholders. 

There has been significant interest in the sections around Blackburn and Laburnum. 

Image fo the Box Hill to Ringwood shared path December 2016

We have determined that the final alignment of the  (SUP) from Middleborough Road, Blackburn to Springvale Road, Nunawading will be south of the Belgrave-Lilydale railway line. The Blackburn section designs will now be finalised, while the Laburnum section will undergo further consultation.

The decision process around the alignment of the shared use path has followed a robust and detailed process, including investigations into a northern alignment in direct response to requests from the community.

We have met with, reviewed and considered the alternative plans designed by members of the community, and while a northern alignment is possible, there are a number of reasons why we have assessed that the southern alignment provides a better outcome for the wider community.

We have provided these Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to help explain why the southern alignment has been selected for the Laburnum and Blackburn section. Please note that while location-specific details are important, we also need to look at the alignment from an overall perspective, and ensure that each section works well with the next. This is one of the challenges we have encountered connecting the Laburnum and Blackburn sections.

Has the community northern alignment been assessed as an option?

Many different alignments have been assessed for the path along the north side of the railway in the Laburnum and Blackburn sections, including community northern alignment. Our assessments have identified that a northern alignment does not provide as high a level of service as a southern alignment, due to station conflicts, narrow sections, path side hazards and the loss of car parks. 

Our objective for the path is to provide the best level of service to the community, meaning a safe and low stress path to use while providing practical connections. We believe the southern side achieves this better than the northern side.

We will be seeking input from all members of the community to understand your views on the proposed options for the Laburnum section.  We will commence consultation in June and details about how you can participate will be available on our website and via letterbox drop. 

For further information please contact the project team via email: [email protected] or call (03) 9872 7000.

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