Connecting the links | ourballarat winter 2023

Travelling around Ballarat on a bicycle is becoming easier and safer as separated cycling trails begin to link up across the city. The trails are designed to allow people aged eight to 80 to safely and confidently get around Ballarat, providing another convenient transport option for many people to use. The trails also benefit those walking, jogging, commuting and those who just want safer, more accessible and connected links to navigate their community.

Families using a shared path with bikes and a pram

The connecting of trails, construction of missing links, improvements to crossings and general removal of barriers to safe and enjoyable cycling are all part of implementing the Ballarat Cycling Action Plan, which seeks to make it safe, enjoyable and efficient to ride a bike across the city.

With the recent construction of missing links across Ballarat, everyone from experienced riders to those interested, but not confident, can get further around Ballarat safely on a separated trail.  

Recent links that have come online recently, or will come online soon, include:

  • Missing links along Sturt Street and through the CBD along Steinfeld and Grenville streets. 
  • The trails from Victoria Park to Morshead Park via Sutton Street and to Doug Dean Reserve via Whitelaw Avenue. 
  • A new, three-kilometre separated path along Learmonth Road coming online soon. 

Helping cyclists feel confident

Surveys and consultation reveal significant numbers of Ballarat residents are interested in cycling but that they feel unsafe doing so on the road and sharing with cars.

City of Ballarat Executive Manager City Design James Guy is determined to change this and believes Ballarat has the ingredients to be one of the great cycling cities.

“For Ballarat, separated trails and connections will be vital to get new recreational riders, commuters and school children onto their bikes and to keep regular riders safe on their journeys,” he says.

“The trails are great for families to cycle together or for people not as confident on bikes.”

Early counts on some of the trails, particularly at Steinfeld Street, indicate that the community embraced them as soon as they opened. For residents that haven’t ridden in years, James recommends either walking the trails first or going with a friend.

“If you haven’t tried one of these trails, try, and if you have, invite a friend,” he says.

“We often find that people start riding and then have a bad experience and never ride again — if someone shows you a safe route, you’ll realise how amazing it is.” 

Providing transport options for all ages

For James, the creation of safe, separated cycling trails means that there are more transport options available to the community.

“The feedback we’re getting is that people want a range of transport options from which to choose, including cycling, for all the benefits it provides,” he says.

This is especially important for school-aged children.

The planned construction of new trails and upgrades along Whitelaw Avenue and Sutton Streets, for example, links the students of several major Ballarat primary and secondary schools in proximity to Victoria Park to the southern suburbs for the first time, and offers those students and their families a new option to travel.

“It’s lifting the standard of infrastructure to provide a safe, efficient and enjoyable transport option that these communities didn't have before,” James says. 

Back to nature

Not only do the trails represent an opportunity for Ballarat residents to give cycling a go, but the trails also offer an opportunity to foster Ballarat’s biodiversity.

“The tree planting and canopy cover along the trails are really important,” James says.

“We want these trails to link rivers and streamside corridors with other public spaces, so they can function as a natural connection.”

“We know there are lots more barriers to remove and parts of the trail and cycling network to upgrade but the core routes are close to offering safe, separated connections from Buninyong to Miners Rest via the CBD for the first time in Ballarat’s history, and this then enables future stages to create an increasingly convenient network of seamless, safe and enjoyable riding experiences that the residents and visitors to Ballarat both expect and deserve. The more people use the routes the stronger the argument for further upgrades.” 

City of Ballarat Council Plan Alignment

The projects, initiatives, and ideas in this article align with the following goals of the City of Ballarat Council Plan 2021-2025:

Goal 1
An environmentally sustainable future

Goal 2
A healthy, connected and inclusive community