Engineering Congestion: Public Confidence in the slow lane

Public Confidence in the City of Melbourne Traffic Engineering is at an all time low.

Councillor Oake who chairs the Transport portfolio has placed the needs and interests of cyclist ahead of the needs of the City as a whole.

Melbourne City Council’s latest proposal in its war against cars is to reduce the inner city speed limit to 30Km per hour but refuses to apply a 10KM speed limit on cyclists.

A proposal put forward by the City Council bicycle forum chaired by Greens; Councillor Cathy Oake has proposed  further measure to cause congestion within the City of Melbourne.Councillor.

Whilst the City Council claim they have consulted widely the fact is most of the consultation was meeting with select interest groups with the Council officers meetings with Cyclists and the Cyclist lobby groups in coffee shop style meetings.

Council refused to publish Public Submissions unless $25 FOI application fee paid

The City Council has refused to make public copies of submissions relied on in the formation of the City Council’s transport strategy plan. Only executive summary is available. Requests to make copies of all submissions freely available were rejected by the Lord Mayor with Council staff stating that in order to obtain copies of submissions members of the public would have to make an FOI application. 

Public review of Bicycle Lanes rejected

In August this year the City Council rjected a proposal put forward by Crs Foster and Watts to undertake a review of the City Councils’ bicycle network including the La Trobe Street Copenhargen style Bicycle lane  the City Council claiming that the La Trobe Street lane was a success and that they needed to push ahead and continue implementing the City’s transport strategy. The City Council voted agsainst the motion for a review, gagging public debate.

Motorcyclist complain on Safety issues.

In June this year the City Council was forced to defer the adoption of the City Council’s Pedestrian, Cyclist and Motorcyclist Road Safety Plan when Motorcyclist complained that that they were not consulated

The City Council engineers met with representqaives of the Motorcyclist community who are vulnerable road users and in doing so gavce a number of undertaking to consider fuirther the needs of motorcyclist in the City Council’s transport plan. The Council undrtook to develope a Motorcycle Strategy plan  and include motorcyclists needs in the formation and review of future planning reviews.

The Council has yet to deliver on its promises. 

Last month’s Council meeting failed to list Motorcyclist in the Council’s review of the Princes Bridge Lane trial review.

Motorcyclist want the City Council to provide  and facilitate lane filtration, where motor cyclists can move to the front of the queue at intersections as is current afforded to cyclist.  They also want consideration to be given to the sharing of bicycle lanes where possible. Every time the City Council installs a bicycle lane motorcycle safety is ignored and placed at risk

Selective Consultation

The City Council failed to consult with Emergency service providers such as Ambulance Victoria., or the Metropolitan Firebridge in its Transport Safety plan.

Disabled groups were also not consulted along with a host of other road users and stakeholders.  The City Engineers have ignored concerns expressed by the RACV and other community groups

METRO councils are under fire for spending more than $100 million a year on generous salaries for a small army of senior bureaucrats.

Source:HeraldSun

Melbourne City Council is the top employer with more than 130 senior officers earning at least $130,000 a year, including 18 executives getting $200,000-plus.

The council copped flak earlier this year when it increased CBD on-street parking fees by nearly 40 per cent and introduced a $5 fare for its tourist shuttle bus.

A Herald Sun analysis of 19 metro councils, which have released their annual reports, reveals they have more than 500 staff classed as senior officers earning $130,000-plus salaries.

The revelation comes just weeks after a major State Government survey found that more than 90 per cent of Victorians believed their councils could improve, with low scores given for management of roads, population growth and planning policy.

In 2012-13, the City of Melbourne spent $21.3 million on senior officer salaries, with CEO Kathy Alexander the state’s highest-paid municipal executive on a package of about $440,000.
Ratepayers Victoria president Jack Davis said that too much of councils’ rates revenue went into administration.

“We have far too many people employed by councils but not many workers,” he said.

“There are too many officers whose big salaries can’t be justified.”

Dr Alexander said that Melbourne was a major council with a budget of $450 million and more than 1200 staff, including senior roles like divisional directors, branch managers and senior project staff.

“The national and international accolades the City of Melbourne has this year received in areas such as city safety, sustainability and climate change adaptation are an indication of the leadership, significant professional and technical expertise and experience of our staff,” she said.

Dr Alexander said the number of senior officers had increased by 19 since last year but this was existing staff who had moved into a higher pay scale after an EBA wage rise.

“The figures quoted in the annual report relate to a total employment package that includes salary, superannuation, vehicles and leave loading,” she said.

Among other councils, outer south-eastern Casey had 31 officers earning $130,000-plus, including five getting more than $200,000.

Boroondara had 27 staff in the senior officer category, with four people getting at least $200,000, while Port Phillip, Greater Dandenong and Knox had 25 staff on the senior salary package.
Of the councils surveyed, Nillumbik had the least senior officers, with six, including two on $200,000-plus packages.

Council Domain: Non-existent planning leaves South Yarra high and dry

the City of Mlebourhe has still failed to address residents South of the Yarra concerns over planning.

Changes to Melbourne’s Planning Scheme was sidelined by Coucnil Staff who were caught out sleeping on the job.  

Previously licenced premises such as a tavern along Domain Road required a planning permit now they are an as of right use.

Domain Road should not be in a C1Z (Commerial 1 Planning Zone)

State member Clem Newton-Brown is yet to address this issue. 

When the zoning changes were gazetted late July Domain Road “strip shopping precinct” should have been moved into a Mixed Use zone but regretfully has been “upgraded” to the new Commercial 1 zones

Information  published on the Council’s web site states:

About the changes

On 15 July 2013 the Minister for Planning introduced new commercial zones and modified industrial zones into all planning schemes in Victoria.

Replacement of the Business Zones with new Commercial Zones

The five business zones were consolidated into two new commercial zones:

  • the Commercial 1 Zone replaced the Business 1, Business 2 and Business 5 Zones
  • the Commercial 2 Zone replaced the Business 3 and Business 4 Zones.

Generally the new commercial zones broaden the range of activities that are allowed, without the need for a planning permit and remove existing floor area restrictions.
The Commercial 1 Zone (PDF, 135kb)

  • Allows tavern, hotel, and gaming premises without a planning permit, unless in a strip shopping centre where gaming premises are prohibited (a permit for a liquor license will however still be required).
  • Removes permit requirements for all retail uses (except for adult bookshop)
  • Removes permit requirements for all accommodation uses (other than a corrective institution, which is prohibited) subject to satisfying a 2 metre frontage condition
  • Exempts buildings and works from notice and appeal rights, unless the land is within 30 metres of a residential zone, a hospital or an education centre.

Melbourne City Council’s Show Trial increments up a notch

The Melbourne City Council voted to make the Princes Bridge Bike lane a permanent feature following a report of false and misleading statements by City Engineer Geoff Robertson.

Mr Robinson in his report claimed that waiting times for traffic to cross Princes Bridge had increased by only 45 second and that there were no reports of Cyclist accidents due to car dooring.A fact that is not surprising given that cars do not park on Princes Bridge and are not expected to open their doors into mid coming bicycle traffic.

The City Council undertook a select serious of   time testing on Tuesday through to Thursday to determine the impact of the Bike Lane on City Traffic during the morning and afternoon peak periods.  They left off Monday, Friday’s and weekend statistics as they would have distorted statistics included in the Council report. Friday being the heaviest traffic day of the week.

Missing from the report was information on traffic volumes before and after the lane closure. 

There number of cars exciting into Flinders Street per traffic light cycle had decreased from 22 down to 17 engineering congestion of 20%.  Whilst the movement of traffic across the bridge may be 45 second to one minute longer this does not include the time spent stuck in quest that are extending back to Dorcus Street during the peak traffic period.

The report also failed to make mention of the other peak traffic periods along St Kilda Road most notably the lunch time period from 12Noon to 2PM and the late night evening peaks on Friday and Saturday Nights. Where traffic crossing Princes Bridge comes to a crawl taking in excess of 10 minutes travel time. What the City Engineers failed to list is that there are no bikes using the Princes Bridge Bike lane at this time.  Congestion without bikes.

Safety issues left out

Geoff Robinson’s report failed to list or mention safety concerns about the design of the bike lane at the South-Eastern corner of Flinders Street Station  where traffic de-merges from the single lane into two lanes.  With cyclists failing to dismount  whilst using the adjacent pedestrian crossing and the limited space for cyclists to travel.

This site is an accident waiting to happen.

Council’s war on horses

Geoff Robinson in his presentation attacked Melbourne’s  award winning Horse and Carriage operators complaining that the horse and carriages were using the bike lane instead of traveling in the single lane set aside for vehicular traffic. Geoff Robinson wants Victoria Police to monitor and fine the horse and carriages for travelling in the bike lane

If the horse and carriages traveled in the main traffic lanes we can expect more congestion and further waiting time delays.  The Horse and Carriages operate from 2PM until midnight most days and in the evening the bike lanes are empty.

On occasions when the horse and carriages stuck to the main traffic lanes frustrated drivers drove into the bike lane to pass the carriages on their left. A situation which would be much more dangerous then allowing the horse and carriages to use the less congested bike lanes.

Motorcyclists and Scooter riders

Earlier in response to Motorcyclist and Scooter riders safety concerns, the City Council gave an undertaking to list and include the impact of motorcyclist  in Councils reports.  Geoff Robinson has reneged on this undertaking and there was not mention or impact of motorcyclists in the published report. Motorcyclists, who are vulnerable road users, also want to be able to use the bike lane to safety pass traffic and consistently have complained that the City of Melbourne has ignored their concerns.

Haig Pulson, Senior City Engineer, previously indicated that the width of the Princes Bride traffic lane would be increased to 4.1 metres allowing room motorcyclists to filter though traffic.  Contrary to the undertaking given the width of the traffic lane has been pegged back to just 3.45 metres which does not allow sufficient room for motorcyclists to safely pass.

 Push for the Southern side to be reduced to a single lane

The City Council is now embarked on a campaign to further engineer congestion  and close down a lane of traffic on the Southern bound side of the bridge so as to be able to remove speeding cyclist from sharing the foot path.  

A lane closure on the Southern bound side of Princes Bridge would be much harder to implement and is opposed by the State Government Vic Roads.  Most of the traffic in Flinders Street turns left into Swanston Street to travel South., To reduce the number of lanes from two to one would  have a rippling effect causing major congestion and gridlock though-out the city.  Before Council can contemplate traffic lane closures they would have to reduce the number of cars traveling along Flinders Street turning left into Swanston Street.  

Alternative Options

The best solution would be to close St Kilda Road/Princes Bridge/Swanston Street to non essential traffic allowing Taxis, Motorbikes, Buses and trams only but there is no viable alternative for cars wishing to travel from the Southern side of the City into and from the City Centre currently in place.

One option that has not been considered by the Council’s Traffic management has been the use of Bateman Avenue near the Tennis Centre  that links up to Exhibition Street. Bateman Avenue is underutilized and and only serves as a exit point for cars wishing to use the toll way to access the Monash Freeway.  It’s inbound South North traffic is minimal.

The Council, in consultation with Vic Roads and Trans Urban -City Link who manage the Bateman Ave toll way, should be looking at upgrading the Swan Street Bridge or building a new bridge that crosses the Yarra river allowing traffic to link up with Linithgow Avenue on the Southern side of the river.  Providing an alternative traffic connection would address all concerns and allow for the restricted closure of Swanston Street Princess Bridge connection.

Green’s Council Cathy Oake, who chairs the Council Transport Portfolio, indicated last night that the Council had not yet considered this option even though it has been talked about for decades.

Councillors off to China on a junket

Melbourne City Councilors Ken Ong (Liberal) and Richard Foster (ALP) are both off to China in ongoing rounds of overseas Junkets, although Richard Foster, who was elected with the support of RESIDENTS FIRST:STOP THE RATES RIP-OFF!, claims the China Trip is not a Junket.Foster’s name was kept secrete from teh original report which listed Cr Ong plus one other City Council. It is unkown if the other was a draw from the hat but the City of Melbourne needed to bring Richard Foster under the spell and umbrella of junkets and overseas in-house trips rewards system.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle who  recently traveled to London on a $10,000 junket to discuss Policing in Capital Cities (Unlike London Melbourne has no role in policing which is the responsibility of State Government) is off to New York later this month on what is widely seen as another junket and breach of the Lord Mayor’s previous electon undertaking to not go on a junket.

Free from this obligation, Robert Doyle claims that the No junkets policy was made in the previous election and does not apply to his election in 2012, Robert Doyle’s of the view that he has earned the right to travel around the world at Councils expense.