THE City of Greater Geelong has held the first of its promised workshops to discuss the proposed changes to High Street in Belmont through the Building Better Bike Connections project.
The $4.7 million project to improve cycling routes has two sections, with the removal of car parks in High Street in the “southern” section the most controversial change among some traders.
The first in a series of trader workshops was held on February 12, and was attended by about 40 business owners and landlords.
Some High Street traders are worried about the effect of losing car parking in front of their businesses, but the City of Greater Geelong argues the car parks there are under-used and there is substantial pedestrian traffic.
The council cited an independent car parking study conducted last year that found High Street car parks (both on and off-street) were at no more than 66 per cent capacity on an average weekday and no more than 49 per cent capacity on the weekend.
The same study found 25 per cent of people surveyed on High Street arrived by transport other than car (such as walking, cycling, or public transport).
COGG staff said the proposed changes were more than a cycling project, they were also about improving the amenity of High Street and boosting its appeal as a shopping/dining destination.
At the February 12 meeting, the city suggested four possible options for High Street between Mount Pleasant and Roslyn roads:
- Shared space – cars and bikes share the road and on-street parking is retained
- Bike lanes and parking on one side – bike lanes are separated from traffic and on-street parking is retained on one side of the street
- Bike lanes and boulevard – median strip with plantings created in centre of road, bike lanes separated from traffic and on-street parking is removed, and
- Bike lanes and wider footpaths – footpaths are widened by up to 1.5 metres, bike lanes are separated from traffic and on-street parking is removed.
Differing opinions have been aired about the outcome of the February 12 meeting.
Geelong mayor Bruce Harwood said it was good to meet with the traders and hear their views.
“We will continue to work with them and others involved to find the solution that best meets the needs of all concerned.”
However, in a Facebook post, Member for Western Victoria Simon Ramsay described the event as “a very hostile meeting” at which City of Greater Geelong staff “struggled to provide a case” for the “southern” section.