La Trobe Street $5.6m Bike Lanes to worsen city congestion

The City of Melbourne is about to spend a further $5.6 Milllion dollars constructing 15Km of bike paths along La Trobe Street ($2.4M) and other city streets, reducing the number of traffic lanes from two to one, causing ongoing traffic congestion and ciaos.

The La Trobe Street bike path will incorporate a road separation between the bike path and parked cars.

La Trobe Street profile: There will be only one lane of traffic, one lane for parking and one lane for bicycles and trams in each direction. Reducing traffic flow from two lanes to one.

A review of the City Councils design documents shows the extent of misleading and deceptive information provided to the public. The design document fails to provide full details or map of the design solution adopted. It is clearly deceptive and designed to mislead residents, business and stakeholders alike. Whilst the Council Engineering Services group claim they have engaged in broad community consultation the truth is the consultation process was seriously flawed with many decisions made behind closed doors.

Limited consultation was undertaken with major stakeholder groups. Motorcyclists and scooter riders in particular were not consulted and unrepresented. 

Consultation involved face-to-face engagement through café information sessions, meetings with key stakeholder groups and door-to-door visits to businesses and property owners along La Trobe Street, as well as an online survey.

The La Trobe Street redevelopment plans will add further to the existing traffic congestion caused by lane reductions. La Tobe street is a major cross-city transport connection route.  Many of the city’s bike lanes, like the ones in Queensberry Street and Albert Road, are under utilized. Not only do they add to traffic congestion they seriously compromise road safety for motorists and pedestrians alike.  There are better alternative options, Streets such as Franklin Street which are not major traffic arterial roads should have been considered prior to reducing traffic lanes in La Trobe Street    The Melbourne City bike lanes and traffic policy needs major review and some lanes should be opened up and shared by other road users or removed.

Sir Sig. Australia Day 2013

Congratulations to Sigmund Jorgensen in his Australia Day award and recognition for service to the visual arts and to the community. 

His award is well deserved. A friend., mentor and associate.

Sigmund has been a major inspiration , not just in my life but too many others.

His contribution to the Arts and the Eltham community is significant. Founder of the Monstavat Melbourne Jazz Festival, Cliche Restaurant and former Nillumbik Mayor.  All those who have had the opportunity to meet him have been enriched by their association. A creative thinker and artisan.  SBS radio boadcast earlier today an extensive interview with Sigmund covering his many achievements. 

Monstalvat is more than just a building, it is the people behind Monstalvat that make Monstalvat what it really is.  A mountain of salvation dedicated to Art, Architecture, Music and Culture. Sigmund is very much part of that legacy that has enriched our lives.

Maslenitsa (Slavic pancake festival)

Maslenitsa Slavic Pancake  Week in the lead-up to the orthodox lent. A great culture event one to pen down in your diary

The Russian Ethnic Representative Council and Melbourne’s Serbian and Slavic Communities invite you to celebrate Maslenitsa.  

This year you will see unprecedented scale of festivals activities.  

On a holiday you expect performances of dance, vocal, and circus groups, children’s theater, art exhibition, souvenir fair. You will be able to take part in a master class on creating Russian folk toys, enjoy Russian and Serbian cuisine, take part in the traditional Carnival games. And also a lot of fun activities prepared for the guests of our holiday.

Maslenitsa (Slavic pancake festival) will be held at Federation Square on March 2nd from 10:00 to 20:00, the official opening will be held at 12 noon. 

See you at the celebration of Carnival 2nd March at Federation Square.

Australian Open: Tennis Titans begin their Battle

Two years ago I had the pleasure of watching Alexandr Dolgopolov, a young 22 year-old Ukrainian Tennis Player, play in the Australian Open qualifying matches. It was an exciting match (I always enjoy watching the qualifying matches its something really special). Dolgopolov match stood-out at the time. He showed strength and determination.  

Today Dogopolov, 24, is seeded in the top 20 of players. No longer does he need to play qualifying matches. Last year he progressed to the Australian Open semi finals . This year he is listed as one to watch as his game goes from strength to strength. He has already began to build up a sizable team of managers, coaches support staff and hanger-ons as he moves up in ranking.  We managed to catch up with him and his team during today’s qualifying match between Adrian Menendez-Maceiras (ESP) and Denys Molchanov (UKR).

We look forward to watching Alexandr during the 2013 Australian Open tournament and wish him and all the other players all the best. Viva Ukrainia.

Melbourne’s Hidden Verandah Policy

Melbourne City Council Veranda Policy – 
click to view pdf scans

In 1995 the City of Melbourne commissioned Meridith Gould Architects to write a report on Lygon Street’s Verandahs.

The report was later adopted by the City of Melbourne as policy but soon forgotten.  Copies of the report can not be found on the Council web site and is not mentioned in Melbourne Strategic Planning scheme. (Scanned copy available here)

The report was written following efforts by Rob Adams’s urban design team to build above footpath balconies in Lygon Street – a move that would have seen Carlton’s heritage destroyed.   Two above footpath verandah’s were approved before the policy could be implemented.

The space above the footpath is public property and if owners or traders wanted to out door alfresco dining they need to build them within their building envelope and not expand over the footpath.

Meridith Gould in her research uncovered some interesting historical facts about Lygon Street verandahs and provided some good design options that could be considered. Her report is well worth reading and should be the model for ongoing heritage preservation and restoration of Melbourne’s Victorian Street-scapes. Thankfully Rob Adams’s urban design team did not get their way and the damage inflicted on Lygon Street was halted in time before the rot set in.

Following the publication and launch of the Gould report the City of Melbourne at the bequest of Kevin Gosper made available low interest loans to encourage Lygon Street owners and traders to repair or reinstate Victorian heritage verandahs. A policy that had wide community support but has since been forgotten or overlooked by the City Council and Town Planners. 

Busking: Council’s Immigration Liability

The City of Melbourne could be in breach of Australia’s Immigration Laws. A review of the Council’s Busking Permit application form shows the Council does not verify an applicant’s entitlement which leaves it open to liability should it permit a person who is not entitled to work in Australia.

Many Buskers are students or overseas visitors on a working holiday. Make no mistake, Buskers and Street Traders add to the vibrancy and vitality of the City and should be encouraged, nevertheless the Council does have responsibility to ensure that those who are granted permission to busk, an activity that generates income, fulfills the terms of Australia’s Immigration Act.

“It is a criminal offence to knowingly or recklessly allow a person to work illegally or to refer an illegal worker for work.”

Staff Responsible:  Kathy Alexander (CE0); Geoff Robinson (Manager Engineering Services); Elizabeth Russell (Busking and Program Co-ordinator/Engineering Services)

Restricting Residential Access

Walsh Street, South Yarra

Another classic example of Engineering Services Stuff-ups.  

In this case the Council has installed a 2 Hr Residents excepted parking sign without and thought or common sense. 

Not only is the sign mounted on a 4 Metre high pole but it is positioned smack in the middle of the rear access service gate a situation which could be a major safety issue in an emergency and the fire brigade or residents need access.

Thanks to the residents who reported this one.  Send reports to

Horsing Around: Lies and deceit behind Council’s War on Horse and Carriages

More than a month has passed since the Melbourne City Council considered in secret a report on the Horse and Carriage Street Trading at its November 27 Council Forum – A meeting without reports or written minutes.

Two week later the Council in the middle of the night changed the signs that previously allowed the Horse a Carriages to park in Swanston Street opposite the Town Hall between 7Pm to 11PM.

The Council, having failed to consult with the Street Traders, this week sent letters to permit holders informing them that parking opposite town Hall was no longer available.

The Council has claimed that the space, which is now only available to “authorized vehicles only” was needed for a loading zone.  This in spite of the fact that the Street is empty at that time with the exception of a Pancake kiosk that trades until 9PM (and offers Council Staff discounts during the day) and the Escort Agency located in Swanston Street opposite Town Hall that operates though-out the night. (Not sure if any discounts are on offer)

Robert Doyle before Christmas went on air and claimed that the Council’s War on Horses issue was settled. – far from it.

The City of Melbourne is facing an Equal Opportunity discrimination complaint in VCAT having refused to grant a permit to one Horse and Carriage operator who can not read or write. The Council refused him a permit because his application was not complete.

Alfresco Dinning: with Rubbish Bin and Sign thrown into the mix – No extra charge

 Domain Road South Yarra.

There is a Cafe that has to share its outdoor dinning experience with a rubbish bin and a street sign.  

Another example of City of Melbourne’s Street planning madness and stupidity.

A problem so easily fixed but traders and dinners left to suffer the Council’s inaction.

Originally the site for the Local News Agent and Post Office the premises have been transformed into a coffee shop. The Council managed to change the parking sign which was previously reserved for Australia Post vehicles now it delineates the Western edge  a 30m is a loading zone.  (Enough space for 7 cars)

Next door to the outdoor tables is a smelling and filthy rubbish bin.  Enough to put you off dinning outside.

The new trader has been trying to get the Council to move the Sign and the bin but to no avail.

Months have past and still no action. It’s a no brainer, one would think, it is not that difficult to see what the problem is and send someone out to fix it.  (It should have been addressed when they first removed the previous sign)

Meanwhile the adjacent Botanical Hotel, which obviously has some pull and sway with the City Council, has no such problems with signage as they enjoy a vehicle, sign free and no rubbish bin zone outside there premises. A 30 Metre Loading Zone is an overkill for such a small shopping strip.

Efforts to contact Haig Poulson, Engineering Services, have been unsuccessful in spite three phone calls.

Melbourne’s Blind Intersection: Park St and St Kilda Road

If you drive along Park Street and turn right into St Kilda Road and successfully negotiated any tram movements, midway into the intersection, you are left blind not knowing the state of the traffic signals regulating the intersection.

There are no traffic signals that can be seen as you cross the intersection.  This causes drivers to hesitate and not knowing if they can proceed. the Council needs to install an additional set of lights on the South East corner.

This problem has been in existence for years (made worst with the development of the Domain Tram Interchange) and Engineering Services still have not addressed this blind spot which is a major safety risk.

Efforts to contact Engineering Services unsuccessful . Calls not returned

No signals if turning right
Light facing wrong direction

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