Saturday, 30 October 2010

Cycling and the City

With a Greens cycling group opposite the Windsor

Although I often drive an electric car and catch public transport, I'm a regular and enthusiastic cyclist. At this time of year, it's a pleasure to pedal around Melbourne on two wheels, taking in the sights and sounds of the city at her best. The Melbourne electorate is one of the most convenient to navigate by bike, but my aim is to make it even more cycle-friendly by working to resolve the issues repeatedly raised by cyclists, pedestrians and drivers. There are some general issues which usually involve the disappearing bike lane - whether because of a parked bus, road works, or just bad planning. But there are several specific issues which can use some attention. Here are my top ten:

1. North bank of Yarra River
Like Southbank, there is now a good pedestrian route along the North bank of the Yarra. However, there's no specific provision for cyclists, who often use this route to avoid pedestrians on Southbank. A safe cycling route east-west though Melbourne along the north bank of the Yarra is urgently required.

2. Albert St 'Copenhagen' bike lanes
Melbourne City Council has provided Copenhagen-style bike lanes along Albert Street, East Melbourne, greatly improving safety and convenience. Although some industry groups such as VECCI have campaigned against these bike lanes, they retain my full support.

3. "Parkiteer" cages at Southern Cross
Southern Cross station does not have simple and secure parking for bikes - even though it services regional Victoria as well as suburban Melbourne. We should have proper bike cages here for storing bicycles between train rides.

4. Swanston Walk
Swanston Street is the busiest cycle route in central Melbourne. Cars are banned but commercial vehicles, buses and taxis clog up the route when they park, particularly when trams go through. A cyclist was recently killed by a bus this route. Better support for cycling here is important.

5. Crossing Curtain, Lee and Princes Sts on the Canning St bike path
The passthroughs of bollards at Lee and Curtain Streets are dangerous. Some bollards have a spacing so narrow that being 15cm off line at 25 or 30 km/h will result in a nasty crash. Cyclists have marked these up with reflective tape. The Princes Street crossing has a wait of about two minutes - far too long. Too often, cars stop in the middle of the intersection, blocking cyclists.

6. Moonee Valley Creek Trail
This is a good trail, but at the southern end has no clearly marked and safe route into the city. This is urgently needed.

7. North Melbourne station
Cyclists and pedestrians need a way to cross from North Melbourne to Docklands without passing through ticket barriers.

8. Pedestrian and cycling access blocked
VicUrban recently blocked pedestrian and cycling access to Village Street from Village Place in Docklands, putting up hoardings around the South end of the Goods Shed and offering no alternative access.

9. Carlton Gardens
Cyclists use this green space as a route between Canning and Rathdowne Streets, partly because of dangerous cycling conditions along Rathdowne Street, creating a source of friction for other park users. I'm working with local residents, the Council, and Bicycle Victoria towards a positive solution.

10. Pin Oak Crescent and Eastwood Street
This route beside the railway line is popular with cyclists but has no marked bike lanes. It's time it did.


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  2. The end of the cycle path down Nicholson, past the Exhibition terminates at Victoria -- there is no where for cyclists to go! They are forced to merge with pedestrians for at least a bit, something which is not that safe at times.

    Email me if you would like me to show you :)

  3. Yes, this is a pretty bad stretch - as soon as the garden ends, so does the shared bike path.
    Even more bizarrely, when you ride on towards Parliament House, there is a (very narrow) bike lane which suddenly appears just past Albert Street, continues for about 100 metres, and then disappears again (underground?)
    This is an important "missing link".

  4. I go through both of those stretches every (working) day and I always wonder where I am meant to go. In my opinion the Nicholson/Victoria is more hazardous -- cyclists often go south across Victoria (on the Nicholson side) and then veer around the pedestrians into oncoming traffic.

    The other place where cyclists are expected to disappear is heading south on Rathdowne, just before Alexandra Pde. One moment there is a cycle lane and there is some protection. Then, nothing!

  5. Brian, what are your thoughts on the Melbourne Bike Share scheme?

    It would seem to be grossly underfunded(and strangely run by a motoring organisation, the RACV).

    The scheme is made up of only 600 bikes and 50 stations. Which is no where near enough to get 'critical mass.' This has resulted in a roll out of stations which is not appropriate and centres on the Destinations - that is the CBD, Melbourne Uni and St Kilda road at the expense of inner city residents ( or the originators of of journeys which would seem the obvious market for this).

    Our scheme pales in comparison to the 'Rolls Royce of schemes - Paris which has 20,000 bikes and 1450 stations. Of course our system is new so it'll take time to grow (although the RACV tell me not without more government funding).

    More concerning it pales in comparison to Brisbane's brand new scheme which has 2000 bikes and 150 stations.

    My questions are:
    Do the greens support the Bike Share scheme?
    What will you increase funding to the scheme?
    What will they do to increase the roll-out of stations to inner city residents, particularly the North Melbourne region?


  6. Hi Leon,
    The bike share scheme is not taking off - or at least is doing so very slowly.
    I'm not sure of all the reasons.
    One reason given is the requirement to wear helmets. What do you think about this requirement?
    Within the city there are several measures needed to make cyclists feel safer - including a lower traffic speed limit and of course properly protected (and continuous) bike lanes. Fix that and many more will feel cycling is viable for them.
    And as you point out, the network should be sufficient to work for the trips people want to take.

  7. Brian.. opinions differ very heavily on the utility of the Albert St Copenhagen lane. Particularly the downhill (eastbound side) I have personally had a dozen near misses with pedestrians since they were introduced.. and one near miss with the stupid poles in the middle of the road the day they put them in. Whose idiotic idea were they... in a bike headlight they show up not well? FInd a lot of comment here

    As to the helmet law, it was clearly going to kill the bike share scheme.
    Hugely blindingly in your face obvious.. so naturally missed by all involved in the scheme. If the helmet law was an overwhelmingly positive thing.. like say a seatbelt law.. it would have traveled all over the world like say the seatbelt law. There is no doubt that regardless of your personal feelings (or for that matter the facts ) about the usefulness of helmets, that overall the helmet law has not made more people take up cycling. On any reasonable numbers the helmet law has killed more people from heart disease than it has saved from head injury.

  8. While you're making a list...

    The current state government, as a part of their Victorian Transport Plan, has identified Arden St* as a part of a 'designated cycle route' joining the Maribyrnong Shared Path (I think they call it a cycle path) and the Main Yarra trail, across the top of the CBD.

    Anyway, this designated cycle path includes this.

    Of course, it'd be easy to rectify. Start with a ramp at the bottom of the existing steps, have it turn right just before the railway fence, cross the road (it's a dead end) then double back on itself to meet the top of the bridge. Using the height of those three landings as turning points I'd say it would be a fairly easy grade. But, when questioned, the incumbent Member for Melbourne, as well as Transport Plan representatives, haven't addressed this.

    *Of course, favouring Arden St over some of the other West->CBD routes could be commented upon as well. One thing worth mentioning however, their route stays on Arden to Dryburgh, and then turns right on Dryburgh and then left up Queensberry, instead of just heading up Arden. I'm not entirely sure about the reasoning for this. It's a steeper ride, and it is not a bus route. However, it does still have a lot of traffic, with pinch points at multiple roundabouts.

    Anyway, something to add to the list, I reckon.

  9. VERY impressed by this!

  10. But as it's turned out; it's become the family work horse. I've driven the car twice in last three months, and the pram almost as rarely. We use the trike for multiple trips each day - to drop the little one off at childcare & pick her up, shopping, cafe trips and the commute to work.Car Trailers in Melbourne