By Ellen Morgan
Published: Thursday, July 29, 2021
Stretching from Goolwa North through to Encounter Bay, the Encounter Bikeway is one of the Fleurieu’s most popular routes for cyclists and pedestrians. But is it up to scratch?
As part of RAA’s recent Fleurieu Peninsula Regional Road Assessment, our Safety and Infrastructure team conducted a formal review of the 30km bikeway, by both car and bike.
The review came after a significant number of comments were received from the local community as part of RAA’s Fleurieu Peninsula Community Survey, which asked about transport and mobility concerns across the region. Participants specifically raised concerns about the bikeway’s functionality and safety for all users.
After first assessing the route by car, the RAA team hired e-bikes from Goolwa Bike Hire and rode the bikeway, assessing path conditions, wayfinding and continuity as a whole.
“One of the main issues raised by our road assessment team was the lack of continuity in off-road tracks, which presents safety concerns for pedestrians, pets and cyclists alike,” RAA Safety and Infrastructure Manager Charles Mountain says.
“In-line with community feedback, our overarching recommendation in the report is for the bikeway to eventually be formed into a solely off-road path, for optimum safety.”
Mr Mountain, however, says this may not be possible for a number of years, and will require significant state government funding to complete.
“RAA therefore recommends the staged development of the off-road bikeway, based on priority of safety concerns and those the community will use the most,” he says.
The proposed sections are not only based on safety concerns raised during the assessment, but also recent crash data.
Between 2015 and 2019, there were 7 casualty crashes involving pedestrians or cyclists on or near the Encounter Bikeway’s shared roadways.
With this in mind, some of the on-road sections our traffic engineers flagged as priorities include the Goolwa Wharf precinct, Hindmarsh Rd at McCracken, Beach Rd at Goolwa Beach and the Kent Reserve carpark at Victor Harbor.
The proposed $7.5m upgrade of the Goolwa Wharf precinct is an opportune time to provide better cycle connectivity through the precinct, and to the main street of Goolwa (Cadell St). RAA raised these concerns with the project team during the community consultation stages of the project in May this year.
“Separating these sections from road traffic will lead to greater safety for pedestrians and cyclists,” says Mr Mountain.
“While motoring is a major concern for RAA, we are equally passionate about efficient and safe infrastructure for all our road users.”
Victor Harbor Council has made a number of recent improvements to the bikeway, including widening some sections of the path in Encounter Bay last year, and the construction of a 75m-long boardwalk near the Victor Harbor Visitor Information Centre.
While primarily for the safety of road users, it’s also to improve tourism.
In 2016, Victor Harbor Council published its aim to “establish the Encounter Bikeway as the best coastal bike route in Australia” in their Victor Harbor Bicycle Strategy, a goal RAA is commending.
While significant off-road construction is recommended in the future, RAA suggests a number of changes to markings and signage to improve safety and infrastructure along the bikeway in the short to medium term.
“We’d like to see the installation of more wayfinding and bikeway distance signs along the route, which will assist navigation for travellers, and provide tourism information for visitors,” Mr Mountain says.
“We also recommend more sharrows [a road marking indicating a shared lane] be added to shared roadways, to alert drivers to the presence of cyclists and indicate to cyclists where they should travel along the road.
“While more significant off-road path construction would be ideal, there are a number of simple measures we can put in place now, that could dramatically improve safety.”