Melbourne’s Bicycle Network Wreck: Solution proposals

Notes and suggestion on possible solutions to Melbourne’s Bicycle Network

Decision making process:

The oversight of the Bicycle plan is the responsibility of Greens Councillor Cathy Oake who is the City Council’s chair of the Transport portfolio. 

The final sign-off and decision to proceed with the St Kilda bicycle plan and the Latrobe Street development were not decided by Council but made under delegation of the Council officers who claim that authority and agreement was made during the Council budget papers and the adoption of the Council’s transport strategy plan.

Final approval of the closure of the Princes Bridge lane and so called trail was not made in an open Council session but by delegation.

The adoption of a budget or the Council strategy plan should not be considered as having provided Council’s consent.

As Councillor Stephen Mayne stated last Tuesday was the first time the newly elected Council had to debate the issue of Bicycle lanes as distinct from the general issue of strategy plans and the like.  And Tuesday’s meeting was discussing the idea of deferring implementation and and having the final decision brought before council for approval.  The  proposal for a review was rejected by the Council, even though it was evident that there was considerable public concern and opposition to the decision made under delegation.

Councillors discussed these issues in closed session but they were not debated in open session where the public are provide the opportunity to make a final submission and presentation in relation to any discussion to be made.

Why did the matter not come before Council for final approval?   Planning permits application readily are discussed in open public committee before they are approved why not the bicycle plan?

Future final approval of future major projects and works MUST be decided by Council in open public session and not under delegation.

Albert Street

The existing bicycle lane should be removed and a Clardeon street design solution implemented.

Consideration should be given to establishing a shared bicycles lane with buses, taxis and motorcycles.

Latrobe Street

This is a disaster zone and in need of urgent comprehensive review. A review that should have taken place before proceeding with the Princes Bridge and St Kilda Road bike lanes

Latrobe Street should never have been chosen to install a segregated bicycle lane.  2.6 Million dollars misspent.

Council should  consider and develop as alternative routes utilizing smaller streets such as Abbeckett and Franklin Street and eventually consideration will have to be made to remove the existing lane separation barriers.

On Street parking should be removed in the meantime to allow for improved traffic movements and protect commuters who are forced to park in the middle of the street with minimal protection of a safe environment

Princes Bridge

Princes Bridge should be closed to all unnecessary vehicular traffic  BUT this should only be done with the provision of a suitable alternative river crossing East of Princes Bridge.

This would allow for installation of a bicycle lane on both sides of the bridge and the development of a public transport interchange/pedestrian precinct.

St Kilda Road

The bike lane should be widened and a Claredon Street chevron design bike lane installed the full length of St Kilda Road.  This would require the consent of City of Port Phillip and Vicroads,.  A chevron delineated lane would provide a safe environment for motorist parking, disabled and emergency vehicle access and cost much less then the expense of constructing a Copenhagen close lane barrier.  More path for our buck

Swanston Street

A 10Km speed limit should be implemented along Swanston Street between Princes Bridge and Victoria Street

The Bicycle lane in Swanston Street North of Victoria Street should be replaced with by Claredon Street chevron line delineation lane as recommended for St Kilda Road and Albert Street

Decisions by Proxy: Councillor Forums under review for non compliance of s89 of the ACT

A complaint has been forward to the Victorian Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate requesting that the State Government investigate the management and administration of the City of Melbourne Councillor Forums and its compliance with section 89 of the Victorian Local Government Act 1989 (The Act)

Section 89 of the Local Government Act provides for the public right to attend all council meetings with the exception when matters of confidentiality are discussed. 

The City of Melbourne considers a number of issues that effect Council policy and its administration at the Council Forums which are held in closed session. 

On November 27, 2012 the City of Melbourne held a Councillor Forum in which a number of issues of Council policy and administration were discussed.  This meeting was closed to the public and its agenda and reports were not published.

Decision by Proxy

The City of Melbourne falsely claim that because “they do not make decisions” at the Councillor Forums they do not fall under the provisions of section 89 of the Act. The Council administration acts under delegations on the recommendations and discussions arising at the Councillors’ forum.  This is akin to decisions by proxy.

The City of Melbourne publishes a record of the meeting,  pursuant to the Local Government regulations, weeks after the event. However the agenda of the Councillor Forums are not published prior to the meetings and members of the public are denied access to detailed information, reports or input into the deliberations and discussions of the Councillors.  Members of the pubic wishing to gain access to information and reports presented at the Councillor forums  need to make an application under the provisions an FOI legislation which is a further abuse of process.

Denial of natural justice.  

Many of the issues raised and discussed in closed session at Councillor Forums effect public policy and as they are not open to the public deny members of the public the right to observe, monitor  and/or provide input into the decisions of Council.  Detailed reports. minutes and discussion papers presented to at the Councillor Forums  are not published or made available to the public via the Council Web site.

One member of the public said “they had requested copies of the reports being presented to Council but were denied access“.  The Council Officer concerned said “that this is not the way we do business“. Matters under consideration are no longer discussed in open public forums but are decided behind closed doors.

The newly elected Council has failed to act or question the legality of the Councils actions.

Record of Delegated Authority

There is no public record or registry of decisions made under delegation.

It is difficult or impossible to determine under what authority the administration has in setting public policy or matters contained under Council Local Laws

Avoidance of compliance

The conduct of the City of Melbourne Councillor is a deliberate attempt to avoid the provisions of section 89 of the Act and to deny members of the public the right to attend and observe Council meetings.

Public Confidence

This seriously undermines public confidence in the administration of the Council and could lead to corruption as a result of the lack of transparency and accountability