Project consultation should show all options, trader says

May 27, 2022 BY

Under Option 2B of the Building Better Bike Connections project on High Street, bike lanes will be installed and car parks will be removed. Photo: JAMES TAYLOR

COMMUNITY members looking to give feedback on the works the City of Greater of Geelong plan to do along Belmont’s High Street are not seeing all the possible options, according to one of the street’s long-time traders.

The city is using a $6.69 million grant from the Transport Accident Commission to create two cycling connections under its Building Better Bike Connections project.

The next part will be the second stage of the Southern Link, which includes a section on High Street between Mt Pleasant and Roslyn roads.

Earlier this month, the city started a new round of community engagement on the project, launching an online survey seeking feedback and hosting an information pop-up at the Belmont Library on Monday this week.

The council resolved in April 2019 to progress Option 2B for the second stage of the Southern Link to create separate bike lanes on High Street, remove about 40 car parks, and improve pedestrian safety.

Geelong Travel managing director Stuart Coffield is one of the High Street traders against Option 2B, arguing the replacement of bike lanes with car parks will dissuade customers and force businesses such as his to close or relocate.

He said local traders held a meeting on Wednesday last week with councillors Bruce Harwood, Belinda Moloney and Ron Nelson to discuss the issue.

At this meeting, Mr Coffield said he learned, to his “total disbelief”, that Option 1 for the second stage of Southern Link – which would have minimal overall change to the area, see bikes and cars share the road, and retain on-street car parking except around new pedestrian crossings – was absent from the latest consultation.

Monday’s information pop-up did not present Option 1, instead only showing the detailed designs for Option 2B.

“It’s disgraceful. The survey they’re wanting people’s feedback on, there’s only one option, so everyone’s going to say ‘that’s wonderful’, ” Mr Coffield said.

“Why have a survey if there’s only one option, when there’s two there?”

Mr Coffield said construction of Option 2B would close down High Street for three to four months, and questioned the merit of installing bike lanes up the hill along High Street.

“I don’t know what human can ride up High Street; I don’t know how many people can do it.”

In an email to Mr Coffield on Monday this week, City of Greater Geelong director of city services Guy Wilson-Browne said the council endorsed Option 2B as its preferred option “and this is why another option was not included in the current engagement”.

“The tender for the works however includes pricing for option 1 to provide flexibility if needed to phase construction of the bike lanes.”

Brownbill Ward councillor Eddy Kontelj is an outspoken critic of the completed sections of the Building Better Bike Connections project in central Geelong.

“I certainly am not in favour of imposing on High Street traders what CBD traders are currently experiencing,” he wrote in an email to Mr Coffield earlier this month.

Community engagement closes at 9am on Monday, May 30.

For more information, head to yoursay.geelongaustralia.com.au/building-better-bike-connections