22 October 2020
Yarra Ranges Council
Please note: Despite the photo of bikers on this news item on Yarra Ranges website, the 40% spike increase was not only in walkers not bike riders, but bike riding on the trails fell. This means that locals prefer to walk rather than ride a bike.
Yarra Ranges Council is working to maintain safety standards for all trail users by installing six eco-counters on the Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail. The counters were installed in November 2019 and identify the number of pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders using the trail, peak use times and the direction people are travelling. By monitoring trail usage Council can make necessary changes and improvements to our trail network.
Since Stage 3 COVID-19 restrictions were implemented across Victoria in March, the Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail has seen about a 49 per cent increase in use compared to the same time last year.
While numbers have increased overall, during COVID-19 restrictions we have seen an increase in foot traffic and a 52 per cent reduction in the number of cyclists. However, Council is expecting the trail network to be particularly busy once Stage 4 COVID-19 restrictions ease and the weather improves in spring and summer.
The Yarra Ranges trail network is made up of more than 200km of paths and trails and includes the Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail and Yarra Valley Trail which are heavily used by pedestrians, horse riders and cyclists.
To better understand the needs of our trail users Council has also run a number of community surveys and collected more than 440 suggestions to improve path and trail connections. Council is also developing a Recreation and Open Space Strategy and Paths and Trails Strategy which identified that 95 per cent of community members felt that quality walking and cycling trails were the most important aspect to their health and well-being.
Improvement suggestions included creating more connections between trails and safer road crossings and trail etiquette. Two of the greatest concerns raised around trail etiquette were speeding cyclists and confusion on right of way.
With an expected increase in trail use and to keep the trails safe and enjoyable for everyone Council has developed a Trail Etiquette Campaign.
The code of conduct expects cyclists to travel safely, keep left unless over taking and use their bell when doing so.
Council has designed new Trail Etiquette signage that will be placed at popular entry points along the Lilydale-Warburton Rail Trail.
Keep an eye out for our new signs, stay safe, enjoy the trails and be a trail legend!