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Echuca has most unsafe cycling spots in regional Victoria: report

By Ivy Jensen

ECHUCA has the most dangerous streets for cyclists in regional Victoria, a new report has found.

According to BikeSpot 2020 cycling research project, more than half of the top 10 unsafe cycling spots in regional Victoria are in Echuca.

Bowen St was voted the worst thanks to no footpath or bike lane, followed by Murray Valley Hwy due to traffic speed and no bike lane.

Jodi Ujimoto riding with her daughter Abigail and son Jackson at the corner of Bowen and Eyre Streets where the road narrows making it very dangerous for cyclists. A BikeSpot report has highlighted 10 of the most unsafe cycling spots in regional Victoria and six are in Echuca. Photo: Cath Grey

Pakenham Street’s dangerous intersection came in at number five, followed by Sturt St/Anstruther St (dangerous intersection/cycle lane ends), while no bike lanes in Sturt St and Denmark Rd saw them ranked seventh and ninth respectively.

Active Transport Echuca East Group (ATEEG) had already identified Bowen St as its next priority for cycle paths and footpaths.

Its research has shown almost a third of the families whose children attend Echuca East Primary School live east of Bowen St area and many other children who live east of Bowen St also attend other schools across Echuca-Moama.

“With no continual footpath or safe crossing points along Bowen St, these residents do not have a safe way to walk or cycle into town, work or to any of the schools in Echuca or Moama,” ATEEG’s Jodi Ujimoto said.

Jackson Ujimoto, Abigail Ujimoto and Tom Lister on Bowen Street where footpaths are non existent. A BikeSpot report has highlighted 10 of the most unsafe cycling spots in regional Victoria and six are in Echuca. Photo: Cath Grey

“Bowen St also has two narrow chicane sections which prevent vehicles and bicycles from safely sharing the road.

“Bowen Street is also the key pedestrian and cycling connection into Echuca for families who reside in the South East Rural Living Precinct.”

Ms Ujimoto said residents who worked and lived in the estates south of the Murray Valley Hwy and Denmark Rd were within a 20-minute bike ride of Echuca, but were unable to cycle safely as part of their every day life due to the unsafe cycle lanes and crossing points.

“The residents of Echuca want to be able to cycle safely, however, Campaspe Shire will need to improve its pedestrian and cycling infrastructure to ensure that they can do so,” she said.

And with a dramatic rise in people taking up bike riding during COVID-19, it was as important as ever to make the town safe for cyclists, she said.

Service with a smile: Ash Hall has proudly operated his store Ash Hall Cycles since November 2009.

Ash Hall of Ash Hall Cycles said his shop was busier than ever with bike sales and repairs.

“Our workshop is booked out weeks in advance and we have tripled our average May-June turnover and this would have been a lot more if we did have more stock,” he said.

“The level of inquiries for new bikes has gone through the roof not only here but Australia-wide.

“With the increase in our sales, it’s obvious more people want to get out and ride.”

As such, Ash said infrastructure for cycling around Echuca could be so much better.

“It has improved now with the addition of the Warren St walking/bike track, but if you live over the east, it is pretty hard to get anywhere by bike without battling your way through some unsafe areas and intersections,” he said.

“We live in a flat town and it’s not that far to get from one side of town to the other by bike. We just need it to be easier and safer for everyone involved which includes the motorists on the roads.”

Abigail Ujimoto, Tom Lister, Jackson Ujimoto and Eli Armstrong at the corner of Bowen and Eyre Streets. A BikeSpot report has highlighted 10 of the most unsafe cycling spots in regional Victoria and six are in Echuca. Photo: Cath Grey

ATEEG called on bike riders to report unsafe cycling spots in the town in May in the hope Campaspe Shire would invest in safe pathways so people can cycle and walk without risk.

All the streets except the Murray Valley Hwy are the responsibility of Campaspe Shire Council.

“We have just received the information and note that the data has been assembled from cyclist reports, rather than an assessment of road/path/intersection conditions,” council's development general manager Paul McKenzie said.

“But we will of course review the nominated areas to determine what further/additional action may be required.”

Jackson Ujimoto, Abigail Ujimoto and Tom Lister on Bowen Street where footpaths are non existent. A BikeSpot report has highlighted 10 of the most unsafe cycling spots in regional Victoria and six are in Echuca. Photo: Cath Grey

The Murray Valley Hwy falls under Regional Roads Victoria (RRV), which is part of the Department of Transport.

“We're always working with community and council to further improve safety and connectivity for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers,” RRV Northern regional director Brian Westley said.

“We all share a responsibility when we get behind the wheel, jump on a bike or cross the road to look out for one another, pay attention and share our roads safely.”

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