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

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.

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

Melbourne’s Bicycle Network Wreck: A tangled web of bad decisions, designs and implementation

Those who do not learn from the mistakes of the past are doom to repeat them
The City of Melbourne’s refusal to subject Melbourne Bicycle Lanes to review has only compounded problems and undermine public confidence.
The Lord Mayor Robert Doyle and others who claim that the various segments of Melbourne’s bike strategy are separate and as such not related does not wash.
“Latrobe Street does not relate to Swanston Street which is separate from Princes Bridge and that St Kilda Road is also a separate issue to both”
Robert Doyle said that Latrobe Street could not be part of a review because it was in place.  Stephen Mayne said he would support a review if it included Latrobe Street.  
The logic that the proposed review did not include Latrobe Street or that Princes Bridge is not related to the St Kilda Road bike path astounds logic.  Of course they are related, they form part of a network of bike paths in the same way that various Streets , Lanes and Roads, trains trams etc form part of the City road/transport network. They are explicitly related and all directly impact and effect each other. They can not be separated and should have been included in a ongoing review of Council’s transport strategy plan.
There has failed to undertake progressive strategic pubic review of the roll out of its ill-considered Transport plan. The consultation process undertaken was flawed in its implementation. Like the magician or trickster that asks a serious of questions and then shows you the answer written down on a hidden piece of paper.
We already know that the process and management of the consultation was flawed.  Most stakeholders we contacted have said they did not think they were consulted, instead they were just informed and told what was going to happen and their main concerns were ignored. 
A major part of any effective consultation and design project is the review process. The ability to stop and review a project at various stages of the project, each aspect and segment.  The City of Melbourne has failed on all accounts and most can be attributed to the administration of the process , the role of the responsible chairperson and lack of review.
It all depends, of course, on what your goal is. If you have a set idea and you goal is to bring that idea into existence no matter what the cost then all kinds of mistakes will inevitably be made.
There are a number major problems and issues identified with  Melbourne’s Bicycle Network planning, each one in turn has an impacted on the other and every segment and aspect of the overall design ..
Disclaimer and warning
First it needs to be stated that a good designed bicycle network should make a positive contribution to the transport mix to any city. It must seek to address all stakeholders concerns and not favour any one interest group above the interests of another. So before anyone goes on and seeks to engaged in personal abuse and vilification lets be clear Bicycle Paths are good and should be encouraged.
Those that engage in such personal abuse and attacks are not helping to serve their cause. Writing abusive emails or making threats or acts of intimidation might make you feel good at a football match but that is all. Please note that all abusive comments are logged and recorded.
Having stated that there are a number of issues and principles that need to be established to assist in planning the network.
Major roads should be avoided 
Where possible a bike path should seek to use less congested roads and streets. Canning Street, Carlton, is a good example of a inner city bike path that works.   It is a local street that carries minimal traffic and is ideal for cycling. This is evident by the fact that it is Melbourne’s most popular bicycle commuter route.
Lane separation
The so called “Copenhagen Bicycle Lane” separation design should be avoided and only adopted as a last resort. To date they have not worked in Melbourne.  Melbourne unlike Copenhagen has wider streets and different overall traffic patterns.
Consideration should be given, in the first instance, to installing a chevron line marking bike lanes,  The bike lane on Claredon Street, East Melbourne, should have been considered as a preferred option before adopting a “Copenhagen Bicycle Lane” closed separation option. 
The Claredon Street Bicycle Lane design addresses cyclists main concern for safety related to lane separation and risk of “dooring”. (Accidents that occur of inattentive drivers and passengers of parked vehicles opening car doors in the path of an oncoming cyclist). The Claredon Street design includes chevron line markings and wider bicycle paths that allow a cyclist to travel away outside the danger zone.
Not only are chevron segmented lanes safer they are also cheaper and as such allow for construct “more bike path for our buck”. The Claredon Street design solution was recommend by Melbourne’s Senior Traffic Engineers but was excluded from consideration by management and Cathy Oake, Chairman of the Council’s Transport portfolio.
Financial resources are limited and any design should have be subject to a  cost benefit analysis.
The closed “Copenhagen style” bike lanes that have a physical separation barrier are ten times more expensive to construct the the Claredon Street option ., Closed lanes create congestion, restict use of the road space by other users, including emergency access, and generate additional safety issues concerns with other road users.
For the price of the 350m St Kilda Road physical lane separation proposal we could install 4Km of chevron bike lane and even more bike lanes could have been upgraded for $2.6 Million spent on Latrobe Street, making it much better and safer overall for cyclists and commuters alike.
The chevron lane separation design is overall a better choice. An option that the City of Melbourne failed to give due and proper consideration.
Public Safety
There are serious issues related to the safety of disabled commuters, taxi and bus passengers with the “Copenhagen closed lane” design.  Drivers and passenger alighting from vehicles parked next to a 21 metre physical concrete barrier have to remain balanced on the separation barrier and extra take care in crossing the neighbouring bike path  to get access to the adjacent footpath. A dangerous situation that discriminates against disabled computers the most.  Unloading from taxis and buses is almost impossible. Try unloading a bus load of 20 or more passengers onto a small narrow concrete strip away from the footpath as will be the case in St Kilda Road.
Whilst bicyclists may be safe from dooring, motorist now run the risk of opening doors in the path of passing traffic. Issues the council had failed to mention in its report.
The other solution is to withdraw On-Street parking adjacent to closed bike lanes but that would result in a loss of Council revenue.
Latrobe Street
Costing $2.6Million the Latrobe Street bike path that has just recently been installed has already proven to be a disaster. It’s design, location and implementation is wrong, safety issues not properly considered and a nightmare in terms of urban design, heritage, cleaning and storm water drainage.
The problems with Latrobe Street are considerable and should have been identified earlier in the design stage of the development and should have been subjected to a review process now it is in place.
The fact that these issues were overlooked raises serious questions in relation to the management and professional standing of the City of Melbourne engineering services. (Most likely a managerial problem)
The failure and refusal of the City Council to undertake a comprehensive review of previous bike lanes on Albert Street and the Northern section of Swanston Street should have alerted the City council of the problems that Latrobe Street is facing. Senior Engineers who did express these concerns were ignored or overridden by management
Apart from the design issue the other significant problem with Latrobe Street is the choice of transit route. Latrobe Street should never have been chosen.
The City Council should have developed Abbecket Street or Franklin Street as an alternative bike path option.
Latrobe Street is proving to a big embarrassment to the City Council and this is the main reason why the Lord Mayor and management were opposed the motion put forward by Councillors Richard Foster and Jackie Watts. It would have been prudent and responsible for the City Council to pause for one month and engaged the community by holding a mid project public review before proceeding to make the same mistakes in St Kilda Road.
The City Council knows it is facing a major problem and is desperate to try and keep the lid on it all in a futile effort to avoid it boiling over or erupting adding to the  inevitable in a total loss of confidence in the Council’s engineering services. After all they Council approved the project and spent $2.6 Million creating the problem on Latrobe Street. 
Avoiding an open public review or attacking those that advocate a review and rethink is not going to make the problem go away.
Like the Collins Class submarine patching up the project to try and make it work is a be a big ask also. Piecemeal band-aid solutions to a problem that should not have been created in the first place.
The City Council, as part of its consultation processtold stakeholders that there would be no loss of amenity or parking. 
Already Council has had to consider removing on-street parking. There are numerous issues related to the design of crossroad intersections and driveway access that place both cyclist and motorists safety at risk. In short the management and design of the project has little to desire, it’s far from the success the Councillors claimed it was. 
Princes Bridge
Princes Bridge is a work in progress. Already the promises made by the Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle,  have proven to be false.  Travel time across the bridge is twice as long then prior to the south bound lane closure. the number of cars transiting from Swanston Street into Flinders Street is 2 to 25% less then before. 
Councillor Stephen Mayne reported that Council has estimated that there has been a 12% reduction in traffic throughput out of Swanston Street (this does not correspond with  independent surveys. Prior to the lane closure there were 20-22 cars per light cycle. Currently only 14-16 Cars are exiting into Flinders Street per light cycle) The reduction in throughput and performance could be address to some extent by tweaking the light signaling, something that the Lord Mayor said the Council would do but to date have not changed.  It has been suggested that the Council Engineers had planned to cause congestion and by doing so aimed to reduce the number of motorists using the bridge.
Robert Doyle said that Princess Bridge Lane closure was a trial but no one seriously considered this as anything other misdirection.
Alternative access
Most of the North bound traffic crossing Princes Bridge turns right into Flinders Street and then turns again either at Russell or Exhibition Street.
It would be desirable if Princess Bridge was closed to all non essential vehicular traffic.
The freeing of Princes Bridge from vehicular traffic would allow for better public transport interchange services but this can only be done if there was an alternative river crossing East of Princes Bridge.
The Swan Street Bridge is not suitable and is already suffering severe congestion by traffic transiting in a West East direction.
The  other option is for the construction of a second bridge bridge connecting  Linithgow and Batman Avenue providing a North-South traffic alternative.
Flinders Street
Next on the Council’s agenda is the South bound lane on Princes Bridge,  
In order to construct a south bound bike lane the City of Melbourne in association with Vicroads needs to reduce the volume of traffic and the number of lanes using Flinders Street and tuning left into Swanston Street. Most of the cars on Flinders street are exiting the Eastern end of the City and travelling South.   Flinders Street West of Swanston already restricted to one lane traffic . 
The construction of an alternative river crossing off Batman  Avenue joining Linlithgow Avenue on the South side would ease traffic demand on Flinders/Swantson Street South on to St Kilda Road.
The Council’s solution is to remove a lane of traffic which will generate congestion which in turn will reduce the number of cars through displacement.
Road Safety and Consultation
One major criticism of the Council’s consultation process was the failure of the City Council to publish all the submissions received. Instead the council  published an edited summary provided by the administration. The failure and refusal of the city council to publish the submission has added to the mistrust and  loss of confidence overall in the consultation process.
Most of the “consultation” that did  take place was in the form of information of what was already decided. There was little to no consideration of variable alternatives.  Many of the stakeholders contacted said they did not think the City Council listened or considered their opinions or concerns. They were just heard out or sent information so the Council could claim it had consulted widely.  
A major part of the consultation undertaken was with the members of the bicycle lobby meeting on coffee shops and various venues, this was disproportionate to other road users.
Earlier on in May that the Council’s “Pedestrian, Bicyclist and Motorcyclist safety plan had to be deferred as Motorcyclist and Scooter Riders were not consulted in the first draft presented to Council. Motorcyclists and scooter riders face the same problems as cyclists in terms of safety and they rightly felt their concerns were not being addressed and in many cases the priority given to cyclists was compounding problems related to their safety
Council Engineering Services Department also overlooked a number of other significant stakeholders in the consultation process.  Missing from the list of was Ambulance Victoria and the Metropolitan Fire-brigade who were not listed on the road safety plan .
There is ongoing concern that the various bike paths, tram stops and lane reduction has compromised Melbourne’s emergency response capability.
St Kilda Road “Copenhagen lanes” will also impact on  emergency services response times between the Alfred Hospital and the City.
There is a recognized urgent need for a series of “Emergency stress testing” to ascertain the preparedness of the City to cope with an emergency or possible terrorist attack. We can not afford to ignore or put off this issue much longer. The sooner it is addressed and a comprehensive stress plan is implemented the sooner we can identify problems and restore confidence in the cities preparedness to copy with an emergency.
Major Stake holders sidelined
Organization such as Vicroads, the RACV, Bus proprietors, Street Traders, Emergency Services, the State Disability Advocate and the Taxi industry have all had their concerns down graded or discarded.  Details and copies of their submissions have not been made been published on the Council’s web site.
War in Cars: Engineering Congestion
Instead of managing traffic the City Council is engaged in a war on cars by “Engineering Congestion” in the belief that Cars will bypass the city. This will ave a flow on effect and impact on small business retailers who fear losing customers to the suburban shopping centres. Retailers are already suffering from the city’s high cost of car parking.
City Council will do anything to avoid criticism or accountability
Last Tuesdays refusal to engage the community on public debate and undertake a review, before pushing ahead with designs that are proven to not work provides little hope or confidence that the Council is prepared to address important issues, other than placing  the perceived needs of cyclists ahead of all other road users and stakeholders.
No satisfactory explanation has been given for not alternative solutions that are better, cheaper and more effective. 
Welcome to Melbourne “Bike obsessed” City Council. A Council that will go to any length to limit to prevent any rethink or review of its Transport plan
Greens Councillor, Cathy Oake, is chairman of the council’s transport portfolio

Stephen Mayne: seeks to gag public debate by voting against holding a review

In a rather irrational tirade “I support of open public debate“, Stephen Mayne, votes to gag debate and deny a review on a very important topical issue.

This was the first time Stephen Maybe had opportunity in a Council public forum to talk on bikes and bike lanes specifically, yet he would not allow discussion on the merits of the design or its implementation, preferring instead to vote against a rational motion put forward my Councillors Richard Foster seeking to hold a review of Melbourne’s Bike Lanes following the end of the Princes Bridge Trial in September.

What does Councillor Mayne and the Lord Mayor Robert Doyle fear? Are they afraid  to air Council’s dirty linen and allow public discussion on the merit of the designs and decisions made?

This is not about bikes per-say it is about the design and implementation of the segmented bike lanes and the prudent use of Council’s financial resources.   

Why did Stephen Mayne vote against a review that included a review of the Latrobe Street Bike Lane? That was the main focus and reason for a review

Latrobe Street Cost $2.6 Million. It does not work..Wrong design wrong location bad implementation.

It should be reviewed before we go and repeat the same mistakes on St Kilda Road. 330m lane costing $330,000

The alternative “Claredon Street” Bike Lane design should have been considered. It is cheaper and better.  Council must explain its position and failure to adopt this design.

If you have nothing to hide publish in full all submissions in relation to Melbourne’s Transport Plan

Stephen Mayne speaking to deny public debate 6-Aug-2013


Councillor Richard Foster – The Motion for a review that Doyle rejected 6-Aug-2013

Stephen Mayne: seeks to gag public debate by voting against holding a review

In a rather irrational tirade “I support of open public debate“, Stephen Mayne, votes to gag debate and deny a review on a very important topical issue.

This was the first time Stephen Maybe had opportunity in a Council public forum to talk on bikes and bike lanes specifically, yet he would not allow discussion on the merits of the design or its implementation, preferring instead to vote against a rational motion put forward my Councillors Richard Foster seeking to hold a reviw of Melbourne’s Bike Lanes following the end of the Princes Bridge Trial in September.

What does Coucnillr Mayne and the Lord Mayor Robert Doyle fear? Are they afraid  to air Council’s dirty linen and allow public discussion on the merit of the designs and decisions made?

This is not about bikes per-say it is about the design and implementation of the segmented bike lanes and the prudent use of Council’s financial resources.   

Why did Stephen Mayne vote against a review that included a review of the Latrobe Street Bike Lane? That was the main focus and reason for a review

Latrobe Street Cost $2.6 Million. It does not work..Wrong design wrong location bad implementation.

It should be reviewed before we go and repeat the same mistakes on St Kilda Road. 330m lane costing $330,000

The alternative “Claredon Street” Bike Lane design should have been considered. It is cheaper and better.  Council must explain its position and failure to adopt this design.

If you have nothing to hide publish in full all submissions in relation to Melbourne’s Transport Plan

Stephen Mayne speaking to deny public debate 6-Aug-2013

Councillor Richard Foster seeking to provide the review that Doyle rejected.

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.