Loder & Bayly was the leading consultant firm in Victoria in the planning of off-road and on-road cycling routes from 1974 to the 1990s. It was one of the first consultancies in Australia where town and regional planning was not attached as an add-on to either engineering or architecture consultancies.
Don Glasson, an urban and regional planner, joined the original partners, John Loder and John Bayly, as the third partner in the early 1970s. He brought to the partnership his experience gained as a planner working at Harlow, one of the new towns built after the second World War to house Londoners displaced by the war. Bicycle paths for school, recreational and other trips were integrated into the town’s infrastructure. He was also an active cyclist himself.
In 1974 the firm’s three partners and David Stewart, transportation engineer, carried out the Yarra River Cycle Path Feasibility Study. This pioneering study evaluated the potential for a cycle path along the south bank of the river corridor from the CBD to Hawthorn with a branch along Gardiners Creek to Glenferrie Road. This study was commissioned by the Victorian Department of Youth, Sport and Recreation.
Over the next 20 years Glasson carried out more than 30 bicycle planning studies, supported by the firm’s transport and traffic engineers and landscape planners. The bulk of these studies were for local councils, developing a network of bicycle routes and facilities for both recreational cycling and functional trips such as riding to school and work. An exception was the Bendigo Bicycle Plan which was carried out by Glen Holdsworth, one of Loder & Bayly’s transport planners.
The studies by Don Glasson ranged from Cairns and Rockhampton in the north to about ten studies in and around Adelaide and the Barossa Valley. These South Australian studies included both municipal studies, for example for Unley, Elizabeth and Thebarton, trail studies to the north and south of Adelaide, and other linear studies such as the River Torrens path through Adelaide to the coast.
Don Glasson carried out the first “rail trail” study in Australia for the Wangaratta Council which clearly showed the suitability and feasibility of locating such a trail in the Ovens Valley. The proposed trail followed the rail corridor as far as Porepunkah, with a later extension to Bright when the bridge over the Ovens River was rebuilt. This was the first of a range of rail trails by Don Glasson in Victoria, together with others within and to the north and south of Adelaide and in the Barossa Valley in South Australia.
The bicycle plans for local government areas focused on providing a network of routes for local, recreational and functional trips. As the coverage of these plans extended across neighbouring municipalities in Melbourne and Adelaide, opportunities for arterial scale routes emerged, often providing reasonably direct routes to central and regional centres.
Similarly in Melbourne, off-road recreational and commuter routes extending beyond individual local government areas were established in the Yarra, Maribyrnong, Merri and Darebin Creek valleys. Trails along the eastern foreshore from Mordialloc to Port Melbourne and sections of the western foreshore in Altona were developed in bicycle studies for Altona and Footscray.
It was not until the 600 metre-long pedestrian and bicycle path between Glenferrie Road and the Yarra River was suspended below the South Eastern Freeway that the regional significance of the Gardiners Creek Trail was fully recognised. This link opened up a very direct link all the way from Glen Waverley to the CBD for bicycle commuters. In 2022 Don Glasson measured the in-bound flow of cyclists on the Yarra Trail just below its junction with the Gardiners Creek Trail. It averaged one in-bound bicycle every six seconds for an hourly total of 600. Almost all were travelling in the 20-30 kph speed range. At weekends the average speed and number of cyclists drops and recreational cyclists from the very young to the elderly emerge.