Council is currently finalising the design of two upgrades to the Oban Rd corridor in Ringwood North. As Oban Rd forms one of Maroondah's few on-road bicycle lanes, we are eager to ensure that outcomes for cyclists are improved where possible.
Additionally, BUG member Shaun Ruigrok lives in the local area and rides the Oban Rd/Wonga Rd roundabout on a daily basis. Having had numerous close calls and one crash with a car driver, these projects are of particular importance to us.
Oban Rd/Wonga Rd roundabout improvements
This roundabout has been a dangerous disaster for many years. The biggest issues include unnecessarily wide traffic lanes, a very loose corner radius, excessive use of painted islands with small physical pedestrian refuge islands. The design promotes high vehicle speeds, with many drivers travelling through at speeds of up to 50km/h. Additionally, due to the excessive lane widths, drivers will often attempt to dangerously overtake cyclists and slower-moving vehicles through the roundabout.
Whilst the design plans (PDF, 1.8MB) do not provide for any new cycling infrastructure, they do include altering the size/shape of the centre island, reconstructing and enlarging pedestrian islands, reduction of painted islands, overall narrowing of traffic lanes, and installing physical barriers to separate the exit and continuing lanes.
These changes will require vehicles travelling through to reduce their speed significantly, take a tighter turn, stay within their lane, and reduce the temptation to dangerously overtake other vehicles including cyclists. Overall, a positive outcome for cyclists who use this roundabout.
Oban Rd/Mullum Mullum Rd roundabout construction
Replacing the current uncontrolled t-instersection, this new roundabout will significantly alter the way cyclists travel through the area. At present, continuous on-road lanes carry cyclists through this intersection on Oban Rd. No bicylce provisions exist on Mullum Mullum Rd. Council have published the the design plans (PDF, 3.5MB) on its website.
Heading eastbound (downhill), the existing on-road lane will be replaced by a divided shared path. The design of this path is not the same as a typical shared path, however. Cyclists will be directed onto the path via a ramp from the on-road lane, and travel on the southern side of the path, while pedestrians will be directed to keep the northern side. When cycling eastbound, this means that a cyclist will be on the right side of the path. A solid painted line and arrows will indicate direction of travel. This design reduces cyclist/pedestrian conflict. Once through the roundabout, the path splits back to a regular footpath to the left and a ramp back to the on-road lane to the right. The overall design appears to be in line with recent roundabouts installed by Manningham council on Park Road, Park Orchards which work well for slower cyclists. Faster-moving cyclists can, of course, choose to merge into the main flow of traffic and proceed to ride through the roundabout instead.
The BUG is, however, somewhat concerned at the design of the westbound (uphill). Once again, the on-road bicycle lane directs cyclists onto a ramp and to join the footpath. This time, however, there are additional hazards. Not only will a cyclist have to stop and give way to left-turning traffic from Oban Rd into Mullum Mullum Rd, they will also have to give way to traffic exiting Mullum Mullum Rd. In addition, this side of the footpath tends to have a higher pedestrian activity than the eastbound side, due to the School Crossing east of the new roundabout. This design forces cyclists to not only slow/stop whilst travelling uphill, but also creates conflict between pedestrians (predominantly primary and high-school age children) and cyclists.
Whilst this outcome is not ideal, juggling the available space, we believe that this was the least-worst option for cyclists. Additionally, if preferred, cyclists can instead merge into the main flow of traffic and ride through the roundabout on the road itself. We are pleased that the lane widths appears to be safe and reasonable without being unnecessarily wide.