On the right trail
As part of the 2021-22 budget, the investment involves $1 million for new paths and $2 million for path maintenance.
Coordinator of infrastructure development Phillip Garner said building and maintaining new walking and cycling paths has been a major focus since COVID019 lockdowns resulted in many more people utilising them.
“We’re pretty keen to investigate further links to the city centre and try and get some protected cycle paths connected to the city centre,” he said.
“At the moment we’re mainly following the main two creek alignments, but we see a need to get those connections.”
There’s also a plan to connect footpaths in outer suburbs such as Eaglehawk, Maiden Gully and Huntly.
“Those areas are where we’d like to have better path connections and they’re a priority for council,” Mr Garner said.
“We’re really looking to gain future funding for those connections. Huntly is a high priority for council.”
Mr Garner said the town’s main trails, the Bendigo Creek Trail, Back Creek Trail and the O’Keefe Rail Trail all saw a major increase in walking and cycling.
“The O’Keefe Rail Trail usage increase was up around 140 to 180 per cent compared the year previous,” he said.
“Back Creek, for a month count, had 10,000 people walking and cycling on that trail per month in April and May in 2020. That’s a 65 per cent increase in walking compared to the year previous.”
The City has been working on creating more accessible bike and walking paths since its Walk, Cycle Strategy in 2019, which has seen a number of projects completed, including a two-direction designated bike lane on Ellis Street.
“The usage for that in terms of cycling is comparable to the Bendigo creek trail, so it is getting pretty well utilised,” he said.
“There was a bit of outstanding work at the top end of that connection up near the school at BSE which we completed in the last month. That was a good outcome.”
Mr Garner said any major upgrades, including work on the Bendigo Creek Trail, will be subject to State Government funding.