Doyle rejects open public review of bike plan design and impementation – offers internal review instead

Melbourne Lord Mayor offered to conduct an internal departmental review behined closed doors but rejected the proposal put forward by Councillor Richard Forster to hold an in open open session a review of the Princes Bridge and St Kilda Road bike lane proposals

Acknowledging that there were major problems with the design and implementation of the Council’s $2.6 Million  Latrobe Street bike lane Robert Doyle voted to deny public scrutiny and review of St Kilda Road development based on the the Latrobe Street design

Thank you for your email on 29 July 2013 regarding various traffic management issues.
We will be conducting a thorough investigation into your concerns, which should be completed by 16 August 2013.
If you wish to provide more information or need further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact Geoff Robinson, Manager Engineering Services quoting Customer Service Request number 2340565

The City of Melbourne is committed to continually improving the way we do business and we appreciate you taking the time to contact us.
Yours sincerely
Robert DoyleLord Mayor

Engineering Services set to Tweak and Falsify Key Performance Indicators

Prior to the lane closure on Princes Bridge it took less than 5 minutes to cross over the Yarra river and turn into Flinders Street. Since Princess Bridge has been reduced to one lane of traffic to accommodate a dedicated cyclist lane traffic congestion along St Kilda Road has increased along with the writing times.

Prior to the closure 20 to 22 cars were exciting into Flinders Street per light cycle, This is a key indicator and determining the extent of traffic flow, Since the reduction to a single lane of traffic the number of vehicles tuning into Flinders Street has reduced to between 15 to 17 cars per light cycle,

The holding bay  outside Flinders Street Station is not filling up and flowing in a timely fashion. The time lag is what is causing  delay and congestion on St Kilda Road.

Geoff Robinson, Engineering Services Manager, said the City Council would tweak the lights sequencing which would resolve some of the issues identified but to date no changes as promised have been made.  There is scope for improvement in the traffic signalling but Council Engineering Services have failed to act.   Geoff Robinson is allowing congestion to remain and develop to encourage displacement. The number of cars using Princess bridge has dropped but the traffic times have not improved or stabilized. the number of cars filing up the holding bay and exiting Flinders Street is less then prior to the lane closure.  Contrary to claims made the Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle and supporters of the Princes Bridge lane closure traffic flow has not remained at ore-closure levels.

Any attempt to claim traffic volumes are at or comparable to pre-lane closure levels is false.

There is a noticeable 20 to 25% reduction in performance which should be born out by the statistics on the number of cars crossing Princes Ridge and the number of cars exiting into Flinders Street before and after closure. Already there are idications that Council will fudge teh fgurs to claim otherwise. wse have seen this with exagerated claim of the number of bicycles using Princess Bridge with the Hearld Sun reporting 5,500 bikes movements a day. when Vicroad’s figures show less than 3000 bikes use the St Kilda Road bike path, a figure that has been confirmed by independent surveys taken before and following the establishment of the Princess Bridge lane closure

Statements made by members of the cycle lobby at Tuesdays Council meeting in which the Lord Mayor  sought to gag debate and review the proposed design and implementation strategy indicate that the tweeking and inflating of performances indicators is on already planned.

What’s next in Council’s Engineering Congestion Agenda

The Council’s refusal to conduct an open public review of the cities bike path strategy and the design and construction of the Latrobe Street bike lane will only exacerbate frustration and resentment to city cyclists.  Gagging public debate, implementing bad design and making the same mistakes is not a way forward or a solution to the city traffic issues.

The Foster motion was not about stopping development or improvement of bicycle paths in the city but an opportunity to learn from the mistakes. 

Council Engineering Services have failed to manage congestion or traffic flow in the city, instead it is generating congestion and with it is causing more problems then it resolves.

 If the City Council wants to close down Swanston Street and Princes Bridge fine but in order to do so it needs to provide a workable and realistic alternative not a road block.

Closing down Princess bridge would be fine if there was an alternative route to access the city from the South and across the river travel and onto batman avenue but there is not.  Traffic displacement from St Kilda Road can not be accommodated using the Swan Street bridge.  Swan Street bridge is already heavily congested and at full capacity serving a west-east connection.  Batman avenue tollway is not at capacity and can accommodate more traffic but access across the river is the main issue. A second bridge or expansion of the Swan Street Bridge connecting Linlithgow and Batman avenue catering for South North connection is required is traffic from St Kilda Road is to be further restricted and the Princes Bridge lane closure is to work.  

What next in the council’s war on Cars:

Geoff Robinson’s, Manager of City Engineering Services, next move will be to restrict traffic flow along Flinders Street coming from the East. It will do this be seeking to reduce the number of through lanes of traffic between Exhibition Street and Swanston Street to just one lane. This will further restrict the flow of North South Traffic across the city.  It needs to do this to allow it any hope or chance of installing a second South bound bike path on the Eastern side of Princes Bridge which is next on the Council’s war against cars and closing down city access.

Traffic flows like water, you restrict one section and it s displaced and causes problems elsewhere in the system.  Vehicles  travelling North East along Exhibition and Russel Streets have no where to go. Most currently turn right into Flinders Street and then left across Princes Bridge and along St Kilda Road. There is alternative direct route that connects South Yarra to Carlton other then Princess Bridge.  But that will not stop the City Engineers from engineering congestion in the hope that this traffic will find its own level and manage itself.  All it will do is create more congestion and frustration.

Refusing to review and debate the solutions imposed by the City that are causing congestion is not the answer either.  Instead it will only add to the cities wows as Engineering Serviecs opts for the most expensive and ill considered option.

Doyle seeks to suppress and gag public debate on Bike lanes

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle voted down a proposal by Cr Richard Foster to defer the development of a segmented lane in St Kilda road and hold an open public review.

Less than  10 people tuned up to debate the proposal for a pause and review with all the others in attendance being Council staff

In what was one of the best debates of the year. The bike lobby turned out with a small contingent and spoke passionately about the general principles and need for safe bike paths in the City. 

No one opposed bike paths per-say. All speakers recognized the need to address safety concerns.

However they failed to address details of design implementation issues and the resulting  negative impacts on elderly and disabled commuter safety. Whilst cyclist safety was a concern, commuter safety was ignored or came a distant second.  Someone will get hurt and Robert Doyle will be held responsible.At risk the most is the elderly, disabled and bus patrons who park in the area.

Robert Doyle refused to undertake a review of the Latrobe Street bike lane design, saying that the path was in place and can not be removed. Doyle admitted that the Latrobe Street bike path implementation was flawed but was unwilling to conduct a public review.

Latrobe Street has only been in place for less than a month. the City Council has not considered the success and failures of the development

If Robert Doyle wont hold the review we will.  Business on Latrobe Street will be surveyed and the results will be published. Questions will be asked why these issues were not addressed.

The proposed bike lane along St Kilda Road is based on the same design as Latrobe Street., It will have the same problems.

Stephen Mayne spoke in favour of a review but voted against his own argument.

This issue is not over – Robert Doyle’s refusal to hold an open public review will not be the end of it it is just the beginning

 The City Council’s efforts to deny a public review will only add to community resentment and frustration

Leppert wants Horse and Carriages out of Princes Bridge Bike Lane blocking traffic

Melbourne Green Councillor Rohan Leppert wants Melbourne’s Horse and Carriages banned from using the Princes Bridge Bike Lane forcing them into using the single traffic lane that crosses the Yarra river.

Worst part is lack of adherence to road rules by Horse Drawn Vehicles. Illegal to travel in bike lane but many still do – dangerous. — Rohan Leppert (@RohanLeppert) July 31, 2013

In Rohan Leppert’s mind the interests of cyclists come first and all others, with the exception of members of Occupy Melbourne and residents of North Melbourne, a distant second.

The Horse and Carriages travel at the speed of 6km per hour.  To force them into the traffic lane particularly during peak hour traffic or at night when the bike lane is empty would cause more congestion on an already congested road.

The proposed St Kilda Rd Bike Lane will force Horse and Carriages into the main traffic lane again blocking traffic.  Horse and Carriages are a legitimate means of transport that run on bio fuel and have every right to use the roads. By using the bike lane they allow traffic, which is already congested as a result of the Princes Bridge lane closure to flow.   When the Horse and Carriages used the main traffic lane motorist opted instead to enter into the bike lane to pass the carriage. Something they are allowed to do up to 50 metres under current road rules.  A situation which would be more disruptive and unsafe for cyclists.  Solution allow Horse and Carriages to use the bike lane.

Horse and Carriages is another problem identified with the proposed St Kilda Rd 350m bike lane.  Horse and Carriage operators never consulted over the proposed design nor were a number of other stakeholders including Motorcycle and Scooter riders not consulted. With up to 12 Horse and Carriage operators in the City using the St Kilda Rd/Gardens route one of the St Kilda Road traffic lanes will be blocked. Greens solution ban horse and carriages and cars.

Greens oppose Bicycle Lane review post Princes Bridge Trial

Melbourne Greens are opposing moves by Independent Councillor Richard Foster to hold a open public review of the proposed St Kilda Road 330m Bicycle Lane opposite the Art Gallery.

The City Council in closed session held in May agreed to a trial of the Princes Bridge Bicycle lane amidst promises that motorists would not be inconvenienced and that traffic times would remain the same.

The trial was to go for three months and presumably would then be subjected to open public review.

The Princes Bridge lane closure trial to date has not been successful with congestion on the St Kilda road route pushing out  travel time across Princes Bride to more than 10 minutes.  In spite Robert Doyle’s to  claims that the delay is no more then one minute.  What is worst is the congestion remains well into the night when the bike lane is empty.

In a further act of contempt for open consultation the City of Melbourne under delegation is proposing to start construction on a controversial “Latrobe Street:” style bike lane on the South Bound side of St Kilda Rd.  A move that has seriously undermined confidence in the Council and the promised consultation process.

The Current elected council has not discussed or considered the proposed Lane design or construction other than approve the budget for the development.
Cr Foster is concerned is that the Council has got it wrong and as such he has moved a motion to be considered at next Tuesday’s Future Melbourne Committee a deferral motion to allow for the proposed bicycle lane to subject to a comprehensive review in September.

The Greens with the support of Councillor Mayne are opposed to the review and want to push ahead with the development at all cost.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle on public radio stated that the The Latrobe Street Bike path which was installed earlier this year and cost ratepayers $2.6 Million is not working.

The proposed 330m St Kilda Road lane is the same design as the failed Latrobe Street bike lane. Given that teh Latrobe St  Lane is not working you would be forgiven in thinking that a review of the design would be prudent if not good governance.

There are better safer alternative designs such as the Claredon Street East Melbourne Bike lane that are supported by Senior City Council Engineers.  A design that cost significantly less and meets all the concerns over safety and access, A design that has not been properly considered by the Council or management.

The 350m bike path is not going to address Cyclist concerns and shifts instead it creates safety issues related to access for the disabled, the elderly, Families and emergency vehicles.

There is little wonder why the Council is referred to as Clown Hall and why the Greens are deemed to be living in fairly land

The proposed one month delay, until September and subsequent review by Richard Foster is welcomed and should be supported by the City of Council as a whole if the Council is sincere in finding the best solution and use of limited public resources and maintain public confidence in the Council administration.