WARRAGUL // AROUND 50 business owners, cyclists, council representatives and concerned citizens met on Tuesday to discuss the Baw Baw Shire’s planned tree planting along Queen Street.
Update: Safety concerns see Baw Baw fill bike lane tree holes
The council began works to plant trees in the shared parking and cycling lanes on both sides of the street last week before partially pausing the project after a strongly negative response from the community.
At the start of the meeting Baw Baw community assets director Phil Cantillon explained the full plans for the works, which had been approved by VicRoads.
He explained previously undiscussed details, including a plan for the shared bike and parkin g lane to be widened from two metres to 2.2 metres and the main road lanes narrowed to allow cyclists space to pass the one metre deep planter boxes which will be installed around each tree.
Related: ‘Disappointing’ bike path tree planting
Later asked by the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen, if the lanes should have been changed before works began to ensure interim cyclist safety, Mr Cantillon said the works had to start somewhere and the lanes would be changed soon. He also said the shared lanes could be widened even further than planned, depending on community consultations. During the meeting Mr Cantillon said the vehicle lanes were presently wider than the national standard.
Responding to traders’ concerns about lost parking, Mr Cantillon acknowledged around 40 metres of parking space would be lost on each side of the road. He argued the project was about consistent beautification of Warragul while saving long term tree pruning costs under power lines and avoiding the short term costs of moving underground services for tree planting.
“We’re trying to provide some level of consistency, this is just a small component of a wider trend,” he told the meeting.
Mr Cantillon confirmed to WBBC the trees planted on the nature strip outside the old butter factory were not planted on the road due to a water main.
During the meeting Mr Cantillon compared the plan to major Melbourne avenues including St Kilda road.
Comment: Bike lane trees highlight a larger problem
A number of retailers raised concerns about visibility leaving their driveways and large vehicle access. Mr Cantillon said large vehicles would fit and the trees would mature to be high enough from the ground to ensure visibility and cyclist passage.
A member of the Warragul Cycling Club said the widened shared lane would not make the road safer for cyclists.
“You’re not creating more space, you’re removing space from the road,” he said.
Mr Cantillon insisted the 1.2 metre clearance from the edge of planter boxes was sufficient.
Mr Cantillon said the Queen Street part of the project could be changed completely depending on community response.
Another meeting between key stakeholders will be held next week.
Consultations on further beautification works closer to the CBD will be conducted with face-to-face sessions at a later date.
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