Push for bike trail funds

A group of 15 bikers headed along the Olinda Creek Trail to call for feasibility study funding from Yarra Ranges Council. Picture: SHAMSIYA HUSSAINPOOR.

By Shamsiya Hussainpoor

The Olinda Bike Trail Committee has been pushing for more funding to get cyclists off the roads in the Dandenongs through a proposal for a bike trail from Lilydale Station right through to Olinda, while simultaneously attracting tourists in the area.

A group of 15 local cyclists got together on Tuesday 26 March to ride their bikes in the Dandenong Ranges, having had to postpone an earlier ride.

The trail started at Mount Evelyn at the corner of York Road and finished at Olinda Community Hub.

Yarra Ranges Council Mayor Sophie Todorov and councillor Andrew Fullagar met with the group at the starting point to show their support.

Committee chairperson Ron Thomas said they enjoyed having them and they are also encouraging the community to join their committee.

“We had a lovely discussion with the mayor and councillor about the plans for the future and hopefully getting some funding to get the feasibility study off the ground,” he said.

The committee has been calling for a feasibility study – costing an estimated $125,000 – to be funded by the council.

The funding would help assess the amount of infrastructure needed to bring the trail to the commonly recognised shared use trail standard, which is mostly 2.5 metres, according to the committee’s budget submission.

Mr Thomas said the great thing about this trail is that it’s almost on roads and trails that are hardly ever used.

The importance of this committee is not just to form a group of riders or attract tourists to the area, it’s much more – it’s about making it safer for the community, especially for kids.

Olinda Primary School Principal Cornelia Sheeran contacted the council to show their support to the committee.

The school is running a bike education program which includes road safety and bike maintenance.

“Our problem is there are not enough safe places for the children to practice the skills they have learnt, at present, we can only ride on our oval and basketball court around in circles,” the principal said in an email to the council.

“This is due to the problem we have of the children not being safe on the narrow roads and foot paths around Olinda, we can take them for a 6-minute ride through the bush at the back of the school, but this is not building their stamina up.”

The students were meant to join the committee for a ride but was cancelled due to the foggy weather.

Mr Thomas said there’s no dedicated bike path anywhere up here.

“The tourists get everything, and the residents don’t, I want to live in a safe place with a trail that can be used by people with bicycles, walking, people with dogs, people with prams, mobility scooters – everybody, but at the moment, it’s rough,” he said.

The committee has asked for $25,000 support from Bendigo Bank, this was later declined.

The group is passionate to make this resident-focused goal a reality, no matter how tedious the waiting gets.

“We will resubmit the year after, but it’d be another whole year,” Mr Thomas said.