orange tarmac path hanging under highway

The other suspended Cycleway

Ignoring all the posturing about the supposed proposed cycling infrastructure as part of the West Gate tunnel project there is already a suspended cycleway tucked under the Monash Freeway which is has been seemingly forgotten about.

Carried under the Citylink tollway the shared path continues for a 1km length above the creek/floodway and the space is surprisingly quiet beneath the expansive single width of roadway. There are streetlights spread along the path but they are so low that they project pools of light separated by stretches of darkness that hide pedestrians. The majority of the length is covered with a smooth tarmac like surface which provides good comfort and adhesion.

orange tarmac path hanging under highway

At just 2500mm (8 feet) width between the handrails it once again ignores the need for clearance between the cycling space and any obstructions/hazards which should add at least an additional 500mm (20 inches) beyond each side of the path, assuming the hand rails are “sympathetic” which they of course aren’t.

cyclist riding from wooden surface to tarmac

The strong vertical features are flush with the inside of the handrails and able to catch on passing bicycles. Gone is the path surface and bare wood is used with its issues of slipperiness and bumpy (watch the video above for the bone shaking experience). Also the ends and corners of the rails are sharp as shown above again flaunting the basics of safe design which is presented so clearly in the Australian guides:

austroad drawings of suitable fencing and handrails

Along with the additional horizontal clearance required this suggested design is subtitled with the very clear

“Desirable fence height is generally 1.4 m. Minimum of 1.2 m may be used where severity of hazard is considered to be low”

Falling several meters onto a rocky creek really can’t be justified as a low hazard but the rail tops here are 1200mm (4 feet) from the surface.

Returning to the wooden sections they are of the usual fine wooden slats which work loose and rattle while as pictured they retain water to leave a slick and slippery surface.

suspendWood.jpg

As a through route this is the cycling infrastructure equivalent of the parallel highway, but instead of flowing corners and a continuous smooth surface its interspersed with cost saving conveniences. A highway doesn’t suddenly change to a cobblestone or intentionally corrugated surface for aesthetics or cost savings, its plainly inconsistent with the use of the route. So as this shared path returns to ground level and joins continuing paths it takes the expeditious option.

suspendBollard.jpg

And simply joins with an angular t-junction, cyclists coming from the parallel path to return back up the ramp are faced with effectively zero turning radius and will swing out into the oncoming directions simply to make the turn no matter how slow they are travelling. Sight lines are similarly terrible for such movements. If that wasn’t obviously terrible enough the original installation had a pair! of bollards to further narrow the inadequate space, their foundations still visible here but they can be seen installed in google street view and other archives.

You’d think that as time moves on these simple lessons might be learned, but looking to the upcoming West Gate tunnel project its all coming back around again.

suspendWest.png

So many problems in a tiny sliver of the design documents its just depressing. The “existing pedestrian path” is an existing shared path, again cycling seems to be a completely blind area to the designers that doesn’t even exist. Coming down the long ramp back to ground level it terminates into a sharp junction without the adequate radii so carefully detailed onto all the road junctions. And the sharp fin balustrade doesn’t flare away from the ends of the path or gently taper away as road barriers are designed, it’ll just have a sharp point at the end up against the path.

Hopefully they don’t add bollards…

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