Stop the War on Cars

Call for review of Melbourne’ Bicycle Network

Community activist and Lord Mayor Candidate Anthony van der Craats (The Light on the Hill Team) has called for a review of the La Trobe Street ‘closed lane’ bicycle path and the banning of bicycles along the Yarra Promenade..

La Trobe Street and the Bicycle Network planning and its rollout has been a complete disaster with the City Council spending 10’s of millions of dollars engineering congestion.’

Council has to restore two lanes of traffic along La Trobe Street to get traffic flowing again.  To do this it either has to remove the existing bike path or remove the adjacent car parking along La Trobe Street.

Outside peak hour less than 20 bicycles use Latrobe Street per hour.

Engineering Services in Melbourne has declined significantly over the last eight years.  The Council is no longer managing traffic instead it is Engineering congestion

Mr van der Craats said that the Copenhagen closed bike lanes have not improved safety and that disabled, elderly and family computers Safety has been placed at risk as a result.

There are better alternatives that cost much less and are better for all users.  Swanston Street is a good example. The Northern end of Swanston Street has a painted line delineation that allows bicycles to travel outside the ‘car dooring zone’, it works, whilst the Southern end between Queensberry Street and Victoria Street is a commuters nightmare.

Similar problems exist with the St Kilda bike lane opposite the Art Galley.

Disabled computers visiting the Art Galley or Gardens can not park safely and as a result are being discriminated against.  For the cost of the 330 metre St Kilda Road strip the Council could have installed a safer more user friendly ‘line delineated’ bike path all the way along St Kilda Road to the Junction.

Yarra River Promenade an accident waiting to happen

Mr van der Craats has also called for bicycles to be banned from the Yarra Promenade as they are a risk to pedestrian and public safety. It is only a matter of time before a serious accident occurs and the Council will be held responsible.

Six months ago the Yarra North Bank walkway was not designated a shared bike path. Now, without consultation, signs have mysteriously appeared and speeding cyclist have turned it into a cyclist speedway.

Council must review and rethink its policy. Other road users needs and consideration must be taken into account.

The Council failed to consult other users most notably Disability advocates, the RACV and motorcycle users all who have been severely impacted on by a poorly design bicycle network.  The Council only consulted bicycle users and held meetings in coffee shops. Alternative designs and solutions had not been properly considered.

It is time to STOP THE WAR ON CARS and to properly manage Melbourne’s road network.

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.

Melbourne’s Bike Plan Roll-out in need of review

300m is not going to address issues related with Car Dooring.  The so called “Copenhagen” style bike lanes are not the solution. They will only add to risk of commuter safety. A better and mare prudent cost saving option would have been to install wider open  Chevron line delineated bike paths. For the cost of 300m Melbourne could have upgraded and installed 4Km of bike path in St Kilda Road travelling down both sides.  The City of Melbourne’s rejection of a one month delay and a review of the Latrobe Street and Princes Bridge lanes closures is a step backwards.

Latrobe Street is a mistake and remains a risk to both driver and cyclist safety. Swanston Street and Albert Street lanes are also in need of review

An important aspect of any road design is the ability to read the road ahead and gauge the level of traffic management and design that applies.

The installation of wider Chevron line delineated lanes would have been consistent with the design of the Princes Bridge bike lane and  other more successful bike paths such as the one installed in Clardeon Street East Melbourne
 
Instead of Latrobe Street the City of Melbourne should have investigated installing bike lanes in alternative less used smaller side streets such as Abbeckett Street or Franklin Street

As to Princes Bridge I have no objection to the lane closure provided the City of Melbourne provides an alternative traffic river crossing to the East of Princess Bride. 

Swan Street Bridge is already congestion servicing West-East bound traffic.

A new bridge connecting Linlithgow to Batman Avenue Toll way would be in order to allow a further reduction in traffic flow on Swantson Street-St Kilda Road Between Flinders Street and Linlithgow Street.

There were a number of flaws in the Council’s consultation process not the least of its failure to properly consider alternative cheaper and more effective designs that address the safety concerns of cyclists and dooring.  Council consulted widely with Cyclist groups but ignored the broader communities concerns in pushing ahead with the design solution adopted including the safety concerns of disabled drivers and passengers.

The segregated lanes in Albert Street, Swanston Street North and recently installed in Latrobe Street are a disaster in design and implementation.  They would have been better had they adopted the alternative chevron design. The money save alone would have allowed the upgrading of a significant number of bike paths within the city not just 300m in St Kilda Road.

A pause for a review to allow assessment of the Princes Bridge and Latrobe Street developments would have been prudent,  responsible and would have allowed for a better roll-out of a safer greater bike plan that is embraced by the whole community as opposed to one that had divided and created hostility towards cyclists.

This is not a way forward but a regressive step to the side

Data does not back up Cr Oake claim justifing rejection of proposal to hold an open public review of the design of Melbourne’s Bike Lanes

Melbourne City Councillor Cathy Oake who claimed last Tuesday that the St Kilda Road section between Princes Bridge and Linlithgow Avenue was one of the worst Bicycle accidents spots has been proved to be false and misleading.

Geo-Spatail data of bicycle accidents show that the section of St Kilda Road in which the City of Melbourne proposes to construct a Latrobe Street style 350m bike lane costing $330,000 is not a a major source of accidents.  There is growing concern and opposition to the roll out and implementation of Melbourne’s Bicycle plan. There are a number of shortfalls in the consultation process with major stakeholders not consulted in the formation of the policy including Motorcyclists and Emergency services. Cathy Oake was chairman of the City Council’s Transport Portfolio.

On Tuesday the City of Melbourne rejected a proposal to defer the development of the St Kilda Road Bike Lane and to undertake a comprehensive review of the Latrobe Street and Princess Bridge Bike lane developments.

The City of Melbourne failed to give due and proper consideration to the cheaper alternative “Chevron line delineated” bike lane design that would have allowed for 3-4Km safer bike path to be installed along St Kilda Road. The proposed 350m bike lane will do nothing to improve public safety.

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

VARIOUS TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT ISSUES
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

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