Improving our path network in Bendigo

Bendigo’s off-road cycling and walking network is very good, but much more could be done to make it safer and easier to use.

During the Covid-19 lockdown in Bendigo, many of us had reason to get out and walk, jog, or cycle. With two young kids at home, we took every opportunity we could to ride from home (in Long Gully) out to Lake Weeroona or the Bendigo Botanic Gardens. We even had a crack at riding all the way to Crusoe Reservoir, and managed to get to Spring Gully as well. Apart from many flat tyres from the dreaded three-cornered jack, we had a ball.

However, there was 1 downside. There are several road crossings which are very dicey. For example, on the way from Long Gully to Lake Weeroona, we must cross Creeth Street, Eaglehawk Road, Prouses Road and Finn Street. They are all busy roads, and two of them are combined with railway level crossings which obscure your view of traffic.

With a bike chariot in tow, as well as an 8-year old, I found myself quite anxious crossing these roads. I am sure that such dangerous road crossings are present in other areas of Bendigo.

The Greater Bendigo Council wants to get people active by using our network of paths, but these road crossings are a serious barrier to that. In the picture above, Deb Wylie and I are standing at the Creeth St crossing in Long Gully. This is what Deb had to say about this crossing:

“There are so many cars and trucks that use this road. I sometimes have to wait more than 10 minutes to cross the road. It’s great that lots of people use this path. But at the moment you take your life in your hands.”

Deb wylie, resident and community volunteer

You can also have a look at a video of the crossing here.

As well as installing safe road crossings at high traffic volume intersections, there are several other things we could do to make our cycling and walking paths easier and safer to use in the Whipstick Ward:

  • Solar lighting for safer evening use
  • Bench seating at regular intervals
  • Refurbish damaged sections of path
  • Extend the path from Epsom out to Huntly

And we are off!

Finally, my campaign has launched! There has been a stack of planning, research, conversations and thinking that has gone on behind the scenes, and it’s exciting to see it come to the surface. Here’s a little summary of the day.

Before I tell you about the launch date, let me thank all those who have signed up to volunteer, helped me think about my priorities, liked my Facebook page, connected me with people to talk to, and donated some funds. All these things are practically necessary for me to have a shot at winning, but they also are very encouraging to me personally. Thankyou.

Tuesday 30th June was the planned launch date for my campaign, and so late on Monday night, I sent a media release out in to the ether, and let the Facebook page and website loose. In the morning I put on a nicer shirt – who knows, maybe a media outlet will call for an interview? I wasn’t too confident, but pretty early on, Sarah Lawrence from 9 News Central Victoria sent me a text for a quick profile. Thanks Sarah!

I rushed to the rotunda at Rosalind Park and shivered in the cold as I waited. I bumbled through that interview: I felt like I strayed off topic constantly, stumbled over my words, and forgot to smile. Ah well. Thankfully, the resulting clip didn’t look too bad. It’s a pretty short headline summary, which you can see below. You’ll also notice that Matthew Evans has launched his campaign for Eppalock Ward. We snatched a coffee afterwards and chatted about our priorities and our motivations for running. (Keep reading below the video.)

I did some work on my day job, and then had a quick chat with Chris Pedler from the Bendigo Advertiser. He took my media release plus my comments, and on Wednesday, Addy readers could meet me. Thanks Chris!

If you’d like to find out more about why I am running, head here. Once you’ve read it, I hope you might volunteer to help me get elected. I need people to letterbox drop, put signs in their yard, and say nice things about me to their friends, family, and colleagues. Sign up here if you’d like to help.

Coffee at Post

This blog was a Facebook post that I wrote a while back, and it also sparked some positive media for Long Gully. The cafe is now well and truly up and running. Get along 🙂

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Bit of a good news story for you all, involving a few of my favourite things: my neighbourhood of Long Gully, coffee, creative community action.

Many of my Long Gully neighbours will know Gar, who runs the Long Gully post office. He is a gentleman, and very helpful to all his customers. Late last year, Gar was seriously injured in a violent hold-up of the post office. He was attacked with a steel bar, and spent a few days in hospital. Not good. Worse, the attacker was a regular customer.

When this happened, I thought Gar would sell the business and move out. Who wants to be bashed at their place of work, by one of your customers?! But no; Gar and his wife Shen are made of sterner stuff. I had a chat with them a few months ago, and they had asked themselves “What would make us feel safer at the post office?” More people in the shop was their answer. But how to do that?

Then, at a community networking event last month (held at St Matthew’s), I was lamenting the lack of a coffee shop in Long Gully. This is a pet whinge of mine, and I’ve lived in hope for the last 10 years that one will open – just a little one…doesn’t need to be a hipster one with stupidly-named lunch options. Just a place to get a coffee. It never has. I got my hopes up 3 years ago when a shop across the road was renovated as a cafe, then never opened. Anyway, Gar piped up and announced that he and Shen were opening a cafe at the post office. That was their answer to feeling safer in their community – do something that the community needs, and also meets theirs. Win win!