I think I’m in favour of the end product, but I know for sure I’m not in favour of the process. Kafka, Stalin, Murphy and the three Stooges seem to be behind the public consultation and information. Along the way I made a public submission to the LXRA – Level Crossing Removal Authority – that of course received no specific reply. I tried asking specific questions in person, via email and via twitter, they all seem to vanish. With dogged determinedness I shall try again. Here’s the current twitter dialogue:

[2016-08-24 Wed] @ajft @ajft Aug 24 Melbourne, Victoria

@levelcrossings am still waiting for an answer re. Ped crossing at Richardson & paddington streets hughesdale. Why no answer?

Aha, at least a reply!

[2016-08-25 Thu] Level Crossings ‏@levelcrossings

Hi @ajft can you please re-send us your question regarding the pedestrian crossing and we will get back to you - thanks!

The foot crossing

OK, first question is about the pedestrian crossing between Richardson and Paddington streets Hughesdale, there’s a lot of foot traffic – elderly people going to and from the Greek Orthodox church, school kids for Oakleigh Grammar, Sacred Heart High and Oakleigh Primary. There’s also a lot of commuter cyclists use it, since the Station Trail ends here, before resuming 600m away on the far side of Oakleigh station. Verbal and contradictory statements at public information sessions from different people were that; 1) it was to be removed completely, 2) it was to be replaced and 3) that nothing was happening:

[2016-08-28 Sun] @ajft

@levelcrossings Q1. How will ped. level crossing at Richardson/Paddington streets be removed? (and when)

The reply:

[2016-08-31 Wed] Level Crossings ‏@levelcrossings

Hi @ajft the pedestrian crossing at Richardson/Paddington street is outside of the project area and won’t be impacted.

Well it is impacted now and it will be impacted more in the future – the crossing is covered in mud from works alongside it, and with the forecast of “more frequent trains” and “longer trains” as part of various “life after Skyrail” publicity it’ll make the crossing even more hazardous. Seems that as suspected, the crossing-removal project is all about the car traffic and not about either the trains or the people. There was a pedestrian death there a couple of weeks ago, but that seems to be out of scope for the LXRA.

The “Continuous Bike Path”

Frequently stated on the glossy brochures and Skyrail handouts are the promise of the continuous bike path from Caulfield to Dandenong as a result of the Skyrail works. Currently the “Station trail” bike path is very much a piecemeal affair, and coming from Caulfield it ends at the eastern end of Galbally Reserve in Hughesdale, then resumes 600m away at Oakleigh Central shops – cyclists have to traverse either Willesden rd and the Oakleigh bus interchange, or Carlisle crescent and the pedestrian-only underpass, then the station car park, before finally getting back onto the bike path. The same thing happens to a degree at Huntingdale station; the bike path ends, cyclists have to ride through a few hundred metres of car park dicing with reversing motorists, then the bike path resumes. This is not a “continuous bike path” although Bicycle Network and the council like to pretend it is. The big question:

[2016-08-28 Sun]‏ @ajft

@levelcrossings Q2. Where will bike path from Galabally reserve to Oakleigh station be routed? (currently ends at Richardson/Padington sts)

Then three days later comes the gloriously useless reply:

[2016-08-31 Wed] Level Crossings ‏@levelcrossings

@ajft It will follow new shared user path below tracks. The continuous path will link East Caulfield Reserve to Eastlink trail at Yarraman.

There you go, ask a specific question, get a uselessly vague general answer. Not only useless, but laughably so, stating that the bike path goes underneath a ground level rail line! Try again:

[2016-08-31 Wed] @ajft @levelcrossings

WHERE and HOW? not just generality please. Where does bike path go from Galbally reserve to Oakleigh?

With a followup explanation, just in case @levelcrossings doesn’t have in their possesion a map of their own proposed works:

[2016-08-31 Wed] @ajft

@levelcrossings how can bike path go “below tracks” when rail tracks are at ground level from Galbally reserver to Oakleigh!

Still waiting for answers as to where “the continuous path” will go…