The Box Hill to Ringwood Shared User Path is a ten km path almost entirely off road and mainly on the rail reserve, linking Box Hill and Ringwood. The concept of the path was conceived back in 1996. A study was conducted by the Cities of Whitehorse and Boroondara together with the Victorian state government to assess the feasibility of what was then called the Eastern Rail Trail (ERT). The project envisaged a bike path from Burnley to Ringwood, mainly along the rail line.
These plans however were never progressed although the City of Whitehorse 2007 Bicycle Strategy showed it as part of the strategic plans for cycle paths in Whitehorse. With the commencement in 2009 of the rail grade separation at Springvale Road Nunawading, a group of cycling advocates fortuitously formed to seek to include the ERT in the Springvale Road project. Despite best efforts, the grade separation project was built without accommodating the ERT.
Never-the-less, this group of advocates set about developing plans for the trail, rebadged as the Box Hill to Ringwood Rail Trail (BHRRT). A detailed professional proposal was produced with the support of Whitehorse Cyclists Inc and used to promote the project with officials and elected representatives of local, state and federal government.
Such was the quality of this work that in the course of the 2010 state election campaign, the then opposition, the Liberal/National coalition undertook to construct the BHRRT if elected. The coalition won the 2010 election and honoured the undertaking. Subsequently the Labor government continued the project with much of the Blackburn and Heatherdale sections being built as part of the Level Crossing Removals.
Realising the dream
An enormous amount of work was carried out by the small group of advocates in participating in numerous planning activities and general liaison with state and local government, over ten years from 2010.
The first section to be completed was the sector from Walkers Road Nunawading to Mitcham station and along Brunswick Road. This was opened in July 2014. This section was constructed in conjunction with the Mitcham and Rooks Road grade separation project, This was followed by the sector from Linsley Street Box Hill to Sagoe Lane, opened in May 2015. In mid 2017, the sections between Blackburn and Nunawading and between Mitcham and Heatherdale were opened, providing a continuous high quality off road path from Blackburn to the Eastlink path.
The section from Eastlink to Thanet Street Ringwood, including a signalised crossing of New Street was completed in July 2018. The section from Sagoe Lane to Middleborough Road was completed in August 2019. New pedestrian and cycling traffic lights on Springvale Road, which greatly improved the crossing at this location, were completed in September 2019.
For further details, see the VicRoads website.
The final section of the path through Laburnum and Blackburn is soon to be finalised as regards the route details. We are maintaining contact with VicRoads and Whitehorse Council, to seek the best possible outcome for cycling.
There are also some improvements required to access to the path along its entire route. this includes:
- Opening access behind Home HQ in Nunawading, McGlone and Richards Streets in Mitcham; and
- Improving kerb crossovers and removing obstacles at several locations;
We will continue to advocate on these issues.
The BHRRT provides a vital interconnection with many adjoining paths and cycle routes as shown in the diagram below.