Hawthorn to Box Hill Cycle Trail

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Bicycle travel is a healthy and environmentally sustainable mode of transport in urban areas. Safe cycling routes encourage people to travel by bicycle. This is a proposal to create the “Eastern Rail Trail” (ERT) to improve east-west cycle travel through the Cities of Boroondara and Whitehorse in eastern Melbourne. Boroondara City Council actively supports cycling, as stated on the Council web site: “The City of Boroondara's is ideally located to enjoy cycling. Situated along the Main Yarra Trail and Yarra Bend Park and boasting good bicycle facilities, Boroondara offers a unique opportunity to enjoy this attractive, healthy and environmentally friendly form of transport and recreation.”

Source: Cycling in Boroondara, Boroondara Council circa 2005

Council is also committed to the implementation of Melbourne’s Principle Bicycle Network (PBN), which includes a mixture of on road cycle lanes and shared cycle paths. The Victorian Government is also an active proponent of cycling as part of Melbourne’s transport strategy.

“The Victorian Government aims to provide safer travel for pedestrians and cyclists, and to increase the number of people walking and cycling, through improved management of existing road space and the provision of more off-road paths and access.”

Source: Metropolitan Transport Plan Strategy 1.2: Improve safety and access for pedestrians and cyclists, Department of Infrastructure, Victoria, 2005


A detailed proposal for the Eastern Rail Trail was prepared in June 1996 by the Cities of Boroondara and Whitehorse and the Department of Sport and Recreation Victoria. The Eastern Rail Trail was identified and an important link in the Principle Bicycle Network for Melbourne. It was specified as one of the four radial routes identified by the State Bicycle Committee to link the outer suburbs with the City. Unfortunately, this proposal has not been implemented to date.

Good shared bicycle paths are now available along the Gardiner’s Creek and the Eastern Freeway, both of which now connect with the Main Yarra Trail. While these paths are heavily used for both recreational and commuting purposes, they tend to follow major creek routes and do not service large sections of the inner eastern suburbs corridor well for travel in east-west directions.

Considerable progress has been made over recent years on implementing both on road lanes (such as Union, Balwyn, Mont Albert and Kilby Roads) as well as marking of wide left lanes (such as sections of Riversdale Road).

However, there is a lack of direct east-west “bicycle friendly” routes through the City of Boroondara to central Melbourne. The routes with wide left lanes such as Riversdale, Barkers and Burwood Roads frequently carry very heavy traffic, with narrow points at traffic light controlled intersections and many tram stops. These narrow points are very intimidating to casual cyclists and are a major deterrent to them making cycle trips along these routes.

The opportunity

The Eastern Rail Trail will provide a bicycle path shared between cyclists and pedestrians (but not motor vehicles), that will provide an excellent opportunity for cyclists to travel through the City of Boroondara to connect with the Main Yarra Trail and the bicycle route along Bridge Road.

Users of this trail could include:

  • Cyclists commuting to and from the City of Melbourne during weekdays
  • Recreational cycling on weekends and during evenings – including visits to the growing local café and shopping areas such as the Glenferrie Road, Camberwell Junction, Maling Road and Union Road strips. This has significant potential to boost local tourism by connecting with Melbourne’s existing heavily used bicycle paths along the Yarra River.
  • Shorter daytime bicycle and pedestrian trips by residents to local shopping areas along the trail including Glenferrie, Auburn, Canterbury/Mailing Road, Surrey Hills, and Hawthorn
  • The path should accomodate both pedestrians and cyclists.

Students attending local schools such as Camberwell High School, Strathcona, Fintona, Carey and several primary schools.

Additional advantages

Some additional advantages of the Eastern Rail Trail are:

  • Cyclists would have a fast and efficient alternative route to Whitehorse Road (Tram 109), Barkers, Burwood, and Riversdale Roads, which would improve the flow of traffic and trams.
  • Increased cycle trips and a reduction in car trips would significantly reduce both traffic congestion and associated air pollution.

Route Overview

The suggested route follows the Box Hill railway line from Surrey Hills station over the Yarra River to the Main Yarra Trail and Swan Street. Most of the route can be situated on or next to the railway easement, which will offer unimpeded and enjoyable cycling. This proposal focusses on the section of the railway line between Mont Albert/Surrey Hills and the Yarra River.

Figure 1: Route overview - Surrey Hills to Yarra River
Figure 1: Route overview - Surrey Hills to Yarra River

There is also an excellent opportunity to extend the Eastern Rail Trail connection further east along the Lilydale line through Box Hill out to Mitcham and beyond. Some good sections of cycle track currently exist along sections of this line, but they currently do not integrate or connect well with good cycle routes through Boroondara.

Figure 2: Route overview - Nunawading to Surrey Hills
Figure 2: Route overview - Nunawading to Surrey Hills
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