path cresting a steep hill

Play Merri with Hill

Continuing the series of notable points in the video travelling along the Merri Creek Trail is this section crossing under Heidelberg Road. Again with dogs off leash on the narrow path.

shared path passing under a bridge

Unusually the path has been edged in large stones with sharp protrusions, attractive it may be but its reminiscent of the famous German hinkelsteins and introduces unnecessary hazards for wheeled users. From here the corner is blind to what is approaching.

shared path over a culvert

Once into the corner the route forward can be seen with this culvert in the apex of the corner. OppositeĀ to the sharp stones of the left side this culvert is failing to collect just the residual soak left during this dry period and channels a trickle of water across the path in a blind corner at the bottom of a steep hill. Austroads have their guidance:

Gradients steeper than 5% should not be provided unless it is unavoidable. It is most important that sharp horizontal curves or fixed objects do not exist near the bottom of hills, particularly where the approach gradient is steep (greater than 5%) and relatively straight. If a curve must be provided at the bottom of a steep grade then consideration should be given to providing additional path width, and a clear escape route or recovery area adjacent to the outside of the curve.

But here the runout is into the cemented in rocks and the inside of the curve has a guard rail similarly ignoring the standards for clearance and dimensions. This truly is a disaster waiting to happen given the steep slope users have descended approaching the curve well in excess of the 1:20 (5%) from above.

path cresting a steep hill

Capturing steep terrain is famously difficult but this frame from the video shows the angle of the vertical trees against the slope. There is no embarrassment in saying I tried to pedal up this incline but had to dismount a few meters from the top and push the bicycle up as the gradient was so extreme. That bicycle is geared for city riding and can manage gradients to 1:4 but this section breaks new extremes with the final portion completely ignoring the absolute maximum gradient of 1:8 leaving me wanting for stairs. Woe be to the wheelchair user who accidentally strays down this shared path.

This alignment is placed for nothing more than convenience or reducing cost, extensive space is available in both directions to enable a zig-zag or more gentle change in height. Separately, each of these highlighted deficiencies would be yet another poor piece of infrastructure, together dangerously interacting and in such a small section they show as time and time again the utter contempt Melbournes councils/designers/engineers have for all non road users.

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