By Jessica Wooley
Kingston Council has voted to go ahead with the construction of the final stretch of the Bay Trail, despite continued opposition.
The $3.2 million plan will involve reducing the width of Beach Rd to the VicRoads minimum of 12.7 metres over four lanes from Mentone to Mordialloc.
This map shows the length of Beach Rd where the new addition to the Bay Trail will cover.
There were fiery scenes at the Special Meeting of Council on Monday night, as a campaign to overturn the decision to narrow the road failed.
Kingston Councillor Geoff Gledhill said he had never seen “such community outrage” over a council decision.
Following the verdict, Beach Rd resident Robyn Nolan said to members of the gallery that the decision was “not the end of (their) fight”.
“We are the voice of the community, and we will fight to have our say on this very important issue,” Ms Nolan said.
Councillor Ron Brownlees said the plans raised issues for the “safety, security and wellbeing” of the 10,000 cyclists that use Beach Rd.
Local cyclist Anthony Wallace said he was worried about the overall safety of on-road bike riders in the future.
Mr Wallace said he has witnessed “many close calls as well as accidents” on already narrowed parts of Beach Rd, particularly near the Charman Rd intersection.
“It is a high-risk area as it pushes cyclists and motorists closer together, making collisions more likely to occur,” Mr Wallace said.
Deputy Mayor Councillor Rosemary West is a strong advocate for the plans, as they “minimise the removal of foreshore vegetation”.
Kingston councillor Georgina Oxley supported the proposal, saying that parts of Beach Rd with previous vegetation cuts symbolise a “war on the environment”.
Environmentalist and St Bede’s teacher Katrina Renouf said she was concerned about the plans, as it would impact the road safety of students.
“With the Bay Trail near a busy school area, safety risks may increase for students as cyclists and motorists compete for space,” Ms Renouf said.
Ms Renouf said the Bay Trail would benefit “amateur or weekend cyclists” as they would not have to “compete with pedestrians and joggers” on the beach path.
More detailed plans will be drafted for approval by VicRoads, which Mayor David Eden said they “indicated they would approve of”.
Under the design, more than 40 carparks will be lost, and a clearway will be imposed at 6am to 10am on weekends.
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