Frustrated drivers avoid Princes Bridge for escape routes

Frustrated drivers avoid Princes Bridge
Cars wait on Princes Bridge, which had a lane removed for a bike lane. Picture: Nicole Garmston Source: News Limited
THE removal of a lane on the Princes Bridge is causing traffic chaos on Melbourne’s already clogged roads.

The flow-on impact of dramatic changes to the bridge is being felt on the Swan St Bridge, putting extra pressure on other nearby routes and is adding up to an extra 38 seconds for cars to get through the Flinders St intersection during peak times.

Peak-hour drivers stuck in traffic slammed the decision to remove one city-bound lane, saying it added anywhere from five to 30 minutes to their travel time.
The RACV said frustrated drivers were turning off St Kilda Rd on to Southbank Boulevard because the traffic was not moving or moving at a crawl.

“We have observed cars in the through lanes on St Kilda Rd at Southbank Bouvlevard seemingly waiting for the left turn lane to clear and then getting frustrated and making a last-minute change and heading down Southbank Boulevard,” manager roads and traffic Dave Jones said.

“They are in the through lane and they are queued up waiting, lights are green, they can’t get through and then they pull into that turn lane and make a quick turn around the corner, probably heading down to one of the alternative routes.”

It took the Herald Sun 12 minutes one morning last week to drive the 1.5km from Dorcas St, South Melbourne, to Flinders St Station.

Another morning it took seven minutes.

The City of Melbourne controversially removed one lane of northbound traffic on the bridge last month in a move opposed by the RACV and VECCI.

The three-month trial, expected to cost $70,000 and part of a plan to make the city more bike-friendly, reduced the number of cars queuing northbound on the bridge from 44 to 22.
Hampton woman Joanna Finney said the bike lane should be put back on the bridge footpath.

“It has added another fifteen minutes to my commute and unfortunately there is no other way I can get to work,” she said.

“The only other way is Punt Road but that is chaotic.”

About 34,000 motorists, 31,000 pedestrians and 5500 cyclists use the bridge each day.

Cr Richard Foster said he was very concerned at some of the anecdotes he heard about peak-hour waiting times but was waiting for official council data to make a proper assessment.

“`I am hearing stories of people waiting beyond the bridge for an additional 10 minutes,” Cr Foster said.

“Trials like this are really valuable because in the event that they don’t work it gives us an opportunity to (find) other options that do work.”

St Kilda Rd resident Marise Cheney said she thought traffic had gotten worse since the trial started and she was catching the tram more than driving.

“If I can I postpone appointments until after 9am,” Ms Cheney said.

“`I wish they would get rid of the bloody bikes on St Kilda Rd. I reckon there would be a dust up every morning.”

Council revealed last week it would remove a lane of southbound traffic on St Kilda Rd between Alexandra Gardens and the Floral Clock to make way for a new bike lane.

amelia.harris@news.com.au

Comment:

Vicroads official statistics show less than 2,000 bicycles use the St Kilda Rd/Princes Bridge Bike lane. the inflated 5,500 figure was provided by the Bicycle Users Group (BUG) taken on a ride to work day.  This is not the daily average

St Kilda Road Bike Plan Risk to Commuter and Predestrian Safety

City of Melbourne’s ill-considered $330k St Kilda Lane Bicycle Lane will trade off pedestrian and motorist safety for a marginal gain in cyclist safety. 

Melbourne City Council plans to install a 300 metre section of St Kilda Road Separated bike path against the advice of its own engineers. The bike separation design is similar to the design of the LaTrobe Street bike lane that was installed last month.

The proposed lane design will force motorists to park on the outside of the bike lane 3 meters from the footpath creating a major risk to pedestrian and motorist safety.

Passengers alighting from parked vehicles will have to negotiate a balancing act on the one meter concrete strip and check for bicycles racing down the bike lane whilst running to reach the footpath on the other side.  The design will place families with children and the elderly safety at serious risk.  Mums with prams or those with wheel chairs will not be able to safely park their cars in the 3 hour parking zones.  Bus drivers and taxi operators will have similar safety concerns when dropping off passengers.

The proposed “island of danger” separation barrier will be installed in the south bound location between Princes Bridge and Linlithgow  Avenue south of the Floral Clock. Beyond Linlithgow Avenue the bike lane will revert back into the standard bike lane design adding to confusion and road safety concerns.

This part of St Kilda Road is a favorite drop-off point and parking location for those visiting the gardens and the Arts Centre/Concert Halls

Melbourne City Council Traffic Engineers prefer to install a line-marked lane only without the inside dangerous separation barrier but have been overridden by Engineering Services Manager Geoff Robertson.   City Council Traffic Engineers sight the successful design of the Claredon Street East Melbourne bike lane where the width of the bike lane is such that bikes travel outside of the car door opening zone.  A line painted only bike lane is significantly cheaper than teh ocst of a physical lane separation and would allow the Council to extend the lane beyond Linlithgow Avenue, It also allows emergency vehicles unimpeded access.

Melbourne City Council is under fire over it implementation of its Bicycle Network. The $2.6 Million Latrobe Street experiment is considered to be a complete disaster with the Council now having to remove on-street car parking which has since been found to be unsafe.

The current City Council has never considered or approved the proposed design in open committee. Stakeholders have been denied the opportunity to have their concerns heard.

Crs Stephen Mayne and Rohan Leppert

The Chairman of the City Council’s Governance and Finance Portfolio and Deputy Chair of Planning, Stephen Mayne (who campaigned on open transparency governance platform) has refused to subject the proposed development of a review process. Councillor Mayne is oblivious to the extravagant waste preferring to ignore the professional advise of the City Engineers and instead action the advise of a rouge manager in order to please the Green Councillors who have placed Cyclists interests ahead of public safety concerns of commuters and pedestrians

Councillor Richard Foster has expressed concern and opposition to the St Kilda Rd development by has been railroad by the Greens and  the Lord Mayor Robert Doyle into remaining silent. Councillor Foster wants the development referred to open Council Committee to allow Council to consider the opinions of all stakeholders and the pros and cons of the various designs.

Other City Councillors are also concerned  about the development and the extent of intimidation and railroading of the process by Senior Council Management