The Bellarine Rail Trail is a great asset to the Geelong and Bellarine community, providing tourism and health benefits to the region.

Being built on former railway right-of-way, rail trails are attractive to cyclists because of the gentle slopes and minimal road intersections.   This is true of the BRT, and it is becoming more attractive as improvements are made to the trail and adjoining facilities, but one feature of the BRT is unnecessarily holding it back: the safety and access issues caused by the narrow chicanes that a trail user has to go through at many road intersections.

BRT Chicane

Chicane on BRT at Moolap Station Rd: Can you see the path created by all the trail users avoiding this chicane?

The BRT chicanes pose safety and access issues because the sharp turns that a cyclist is forced to do through the narrow openings.  Balancing a bike at slow speed around these bends can be very challenging, particularly for less experienced cyclists, and if they fall they could easily collide with the heavy wooden posts and rails that make up the chicanes.

The tight bends also cause access issues for those riding something a little different.  Tandems, bikes with trailers or trail-a-bikes, loaded touring bikes, recumbents and cargo bikes/trikes typically cannot be ridden through the chicanes.  Normally, families and tourists are big users of rail trails, but these are the two groups that mostly use these types of bikes (trailers, touring bikes).

BRT Chicane

Bike with trailers and many other bikes cannot be ridden through the BRT chicanes.

Commuters are another type of cyclist that might use the BRT, with it providing a very direct route from Drysdale and Leopold into Geelong, and the only alternative being two highways.  Anyone reading recent news about how bad Geelong drivers can be (speeding, using their phones or driving whilst drug or alcohol affected), might not want to use the highways.  But the chicanes hinder a cyclist’s progress on the trail and discourage some commuters using it.  Considering the health and transport issues the Geelong region has, we should be encouraging people to use bikes for transport; not putting up road blocks.

The chicanes were presumably built with the aim of keeping trail bikes out and/or as a safety measure for cyclists, slowing them down as they approach a road intersection.  In practice, the success of the chicanes with regard to these aims is very debatable.  Trail bikes can still get through the chicanes, and there are many other places that they can gain access to the trail such as unfenced areas and gates that are often left unlocked.  The chicanes may not provide a net safety benefit to cyclists, with the attention of cyclists taken from any cars that may be on the road so that they can safely negotiate their way through the chicanes, and if they fall whilst doing this manoeuvre then they are likely to collide with the heavy wooden chicanes.

BRT Chicane

This chicane has the added obstacle of a steel stop sign post .

There is a design standard for this type of infrastructure from Austroads and Vicroads.  See Vicroads Cycle Notes No. 17 “Terminal Treatments for Off-Road Paths”. The staggered fence treatment, which the BRT chicanes resemble, is suggested to have a minimum distance between the first and second fence of 3 metres. This is significantly more than all of the older chicanes on the BRT (more than double in most cases).

The City of Greater Geelong Cycle Strategy even refers to Vicroads Cycle Notes No. 17 for guidance (p. 67, Table 7 – Network toolkit, Terminal treatment for off road shared paths).

Bicycle Users Geelong has been advising the Bellarine Rail Trail Advisory Committee for years that the chicanes are an issue, but they don’t seem to want to take notice.  The BRTAC has overseen many improvements to the trail and plan many more improvements, but none of this includes bringing the chicanes up to standard.   It would seem that the BRTAC is unconcerned with making the BRT safe and accessibly to the main users of rail trails.

In recent years, a program of widening of the bitumen surfaces around some of the chicanes has made them safer for some cyclists. But this is more of a band-aid fix than a solution as the access issues remain.

Bicycle Users Geelong wants the chicanes of the Bellarine Rail Trail, and any other substandard chicanes on other shared paths in the Geelong Region, removed or brought up to standard.  This will improve access to the trail and make it safer for cyclists, leading to more locals and tourists making use of and enjoying the great asset that the Bellarine Rail Trail is.

What are your thoughts on the chicanes on the Bellarine Rail Trail?  Post a comment and let us know.

Super Sunday

Super Sunday is this Sunday November 10th.  What is Super Sunday?  It is the coordinated counting of recreational trail users at strategic locations.   Volunteers will be counting trail/path users between 9am and 1pm this Sunday, with Bicycle Network Victoria managing the event across many locations in 6 different states and territories.   In other words it is a recreational cycling version of Super Tuesday.

The City of Greater Geelong is involved this year, and so counters will be located on the Bellarine Rail Trail and other shared paths around Geelong.

The count will gather data about where and how many people are riding and will help build the case for more/better bicycle infrastructure.  SO if you are out for a ride on Sunday, consider including some of the Geelong region shared paths in your ride to make sure you are counted.



Ride 2 Work Day 2013

2013-R2W-Web-Tile-250px-Ride2WorkThis Wednesday October 16th is Ride 2 Work Day.  Regulars bike commuters and many first time bike commuters will all be riding to work.

Bicycle Network Victoria is coordinating the event, but many other organisations and businesses are supporting the day by organizing breakfasts for the participants.

The City of Greater Geelong is organising an event in Central Geelong, as in previous years.  Participants who register at the event hub in Gore Place between 7am and 9am will receive a free voucher for $10 at participating cafes around the city.

So give bike commuting a go, or just join in the fun if you are already a veteran commuter.


Improvements to the Bellarine Rail Trail have got the go-ahead with the announcement of $300,000 funding from the Victorian State Government and $255,000 from the City of Greater Geelong.

The works will include asphalting a 2.5 km section between Drysdale and Geelong, and improvements to the crossing of Jetty Road in Drysdale.

Related Links:

The State Government has announced that it will provide $466,000 for the building of a pavilion for the Geelong Home for Cycling at the Belmont Criterium Circuit.  This is in addition to $934,000 from the City of Greater Geelong.

Related links:

The northern suburbs of Geelong are a contradiction… The area is blessed with plenty of space, wide roads and nature strips but seriously lack basic infrastructure like bike lanes, footpaths, treed areas and respectable park playgrounds….

Today I rode around the Geelong bay trail, past retiring industrial areas, near elite grammer schooled kids and back through central Corio. I soon noticed that this area doesn’t look much like the rest of Geelong. While the houses are the same –  the footpaths, tennis courts, BMX tracks, roads, paths, parks and school yards are not … I was more than a little embarrassed that Corio kids have to run around in knee high grass in the school yard and use junk play equipment at local parks. On two occasions I saw mothers pushing prams and WALKING CHILDREN ON THE ROAD  simply because footpaths don’t exist.

The poor support for bike riders in Corio/Norlane is just a small part of major lack of support for everything else…  the situation is completely shameful in fact.


Cowies creek trail used as a dumping ground… this has been like this for weeks at the time of writing.


The bay trail looking a little dishevelled and un-loved.




Cowie creek trail, Thomson road Norlane. A well worn track in the grass but no asphalt.


There are glimmers of hope slowly appearing for bike riders of this area at least.

A new road crossing at Norlane. Riders no longer have to bunny hop the median strip.


The new beautiful shared lanes down Bacchus Marsh road. Many people using it while I road past.

mooraboool st bike lane

(The new cycleway would hopefully address this riding hazard) source: Bikesafe

The federal Labor government announced a ‘Barwon to Bay Cycleway’ funding of over $1 million.

Richard Marles and Member for Corangamite Darren Cheeseman today announced the Barwon to Bay Cycleway in South Geelong. It will connect the Barwon River Bridge to Londsdale Street. While the media release is light on details, it’s an important win for bike riders around Geelong.

Thanks to Labor for funding this major investment in rider safety.