Five new bike paths flagged for Whittlesea

Five proposed off-road bike paths in Whittlesea have been flagged as “priority trails”.

The planned trails – the Edgars Creek Trail, Merri Creek Trail Link, Whittlesea Rail Trail, Yan Yean Pipe Trail and Plenty Road Shared Pathway – have been identified in a new blueprint for a recreational bike path strategy in Melbourne’s north.

The Northern Regional Trails Strategy is a joint plan developed by seven councils in the area for the future of off-road bike and walking paths.

The plan identifies 96 proposed trails that would create a network spanning 780 kilometres across Whittlesea, Hume, Banyule, Darebin, Moreland, Nillumbik and Yarra.

The blueprint estimates it would cost $169 million to $217 million to build the entire trail network, which would deliver benefits valued at between $2.9 billion and $4.6 billion over 30 years. The benefits would include increased tourism and recreation opportunities, and many full-time jobs during construction.

Twenty-nine trails have been deemed “priority” due to their alignment with major tourist destinations and their potential to be built quickly.

The proposed 7.98-kilometre trail would extend the existing Edgars Creek Trail from the Northern Ring Road to Craigieburn Road, and provide access to Thomastown Aquatic Recreation Centre and Lalor and Thomastown train stations.

Merri Creek Trail Link would create an additional link within the existing Merri Creek Trail.

It’s been a long ride

Whittlesea Bicycle Users Group committee member Ron Harvey has been campaigning for this 340-metre link for four years.

When told it had been identified as a short-term priority, he said he was delighted.

“A lot of people ride across there and in winter it turns into a quagmire,” Mr Harvey said. “If it was concreted it would be fantastic.”

The planned 16.8-kilometre Whittlesea Rail Trail would extend from McDonalds Road in South Morang to Laurel Street in Whittlesea, taking in South Morang train station, Plenty Gorge Park and other parks along the way.

The Yan Yean Pipe Trail project would bridge a gap in the trail from the Metropolitan Ring Road to the northern section above Gordons Road. The Plenty Road Shared Pathway would serve as a link between the existing trail and the Yan Yean Pipe Trail.