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.

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.

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.

Doyle’s Dodgy Data and Porkies about Princes Bridge Bike Lane Trial

Melbourne’s Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, and Bicycle Network lobby accused of promoting false and misleading statical data to justify the reduction in car lanes on Princes Bridge.

News Limited, Jessica Evans, falsely reported that there are 5500 bikes using Princes Bridge which services an average 40,000 cars a day. Robert Doyle also claimed that the number of bicycle movements on the Bridge represented 10% of all traffic movements.


Official figures published by Vicroads portrays a different story.

Vicroad’s maintains an induction loop counter on St Kilda Road in front of the Shrine of Remembrance and reports that the daily average number of bike movements on St Kilda Road to August in 2012 was 1652 (891N and 761S) and 2,691 bikes movements in 2011. Far less than the over inflated figure of 5,500 quoted by the City of Melbourne, the Bicycle Lobby and Journalists.

Independent counts undertaken the week before the lane closures indicated less than 2000 bikes use Princess bridge matching the Vicroads statistics A figure that concurs with the RACV’s data analysis.

This represents less than 5% of the overall traffic movements.

The greatest number of bicycle movements on the North bound lane across Princess bridge is in the morning peak hour 7:45AM to 8:45AM. 0utside this period on average there is less than one a minute.

Traffic congestion on the bridge extended beyond the peak hour period as motorists were forced into one lane whilst the bike lane remained empty. 

 
Monitoring of traffic on the Bridge during the morning peak hour showed that a number of bicycle riders continued to use the foot path as opposed to the provided dedicated North bound bicycle lane. Some even travelling in the wrong direction riding in the footpath South not North.

Activists critical of the City of  Melbourne’ Bike Network were sidelined by radio 3AW jock Neil Mitchel when interviewing Robert Doyle on Thursday Morning. Mitchel cutting them short by falsely claiming they were lobbyists.   It was clear that Robert Doyle and Neil Mitchel  did not want to have an informed debate or exposure of the false statistics espoused by the Lord Mayor.

The current elected City Council has not debated or approved in open Council meetings the closure of the Princes Bridge lane which was rushed through so money set aside for the project could be spent before the June 30 financial year comes to a close. The Princes Bridge Bike lane is on trail for 3 months.

Cyclist riding South on the footpath in wrong direction

Sign advising Cyclists to dismount ignored and not policed in full view of the City of Melbourne CCTV camera located adjacent on Flinders Street Station

Princes Bridge Traffic Chaos.

Morning traffic on Sta Kilda Road and Princes Bridge was pure mayhem following the City of Melbourne decision to close down Princes Bridge to one lane. Traffic banked up St Kilda Road past the Art Galley back to Grant Street and beyond.

The City of Melbourne has placed its spin on the first day of lane closures on Princes Bridge with a false claim that the transition went well.  To the contrary…

An estimated 500 to 600 bikes travelled over Princes Bride in the morning and then dropped off with very few bikes counted in the mid afternoon.  The bike lane remaining void of bicycle traffic most of the time.

Cyclists safety was at risk at the North end of the Bridge where the lane narrows as cars enter the two lane queuing bay before Flinders Street with most cars turning right into Flinders Street.

The two lane holding bay was half empty, with only one lane of traffic feeding the turning bay it was unable to fill up before traffic was stopped by traffic lights. Either the City Council has not updated traffic signals or their modelling was seriously flawed.

The Melbourne Tourist bus reporting that it took twice as long to cross the bridge then normal.

Melbourne City Council Engineers were out and about monitoring the situation.

Engineering Services Manager Geoff Robinson look on and turned a blind eye to numerous cyclist crossing Swanston Street from Batman Av.Princes Walk to travelling north using the pedestrian crossing without first dismounting, placing pedestrian safety at risk.

 Traffic congestion in one lane whilst Bike lane remains free of bikes.

 Holding bay left half vacant as one lane is unable to fill it within the regulating traffic light cycle

 Police called by City Engineers, City of Melbourne misuse of CCTV

Police Van blocking Bike lane at point in the road where traffic enters the holding bay

Cyclist ignoring traffic signals

 City Engineers survey the situation

Cyclists illegal crossing at pedestrian lights 

 Pedestrians safety placed at risk

 Cyclist travelling at full speed at pedestrian crossing failed to dismount. Police turn a blind eye as do City Engineers

 Engineering Services Manager Geoff Robinson looks on

 Truck cuts into bike lane at Northern end of Princes Bridge where it enters the holding turning bay

 Holding turning bay left half vacant

 Taxis forced into road safety point where two lanes merge into one 

Midday traffic congestion. Bike lane void of bikes

Decision on Princes Bridge made under a cloak of secrecy

Melbourne City Council Lord Mayor and Councillors failed to consult on the decision to close down a lane on princes Bridge.

Councillors Stephen Mayne, Jackie Watts and Richard Foster and the Greens claim to be advocates for open transparent government yet on this and many other issues issue they have failed to ensure decisions of council were made in open session.

Questions have been raised to the legality of the decision making process as decisions of Council are supposed to be made in open Council. It appears that controversial decisions are being made under delegation following consideration at closed session Councillor Forms, locking out members of the public, where councillors give a nod and a wink and the decision is made.
 
No opportunity for public comment on thee proposal which will see access to the city restricted.  Residents South of the Yarra who are effected the most were not consulted.

If the issue appears in the Council budget papers then it is assumed that approval has been given.

Act of bad faith – Council credibility with the community at an all time low.

The Council’s budget papers indicated that the decision to build the bike lane was not possible before June 30 end of financial year.

Having deceived the public the Council held a serious of closed session and a decision has been made to announce the lane closure under the disguise of a “trial” . 

Just last week the City Council engineers, Haig Poulson and Geoff Robertson had met with representatives of the Motorcyclist and Scooter riders association to discuss the road safety issues that had not been addressed by the City Council. Motorcyclists and Scooter riders had been left out of the Council Transport Strategy plan.,  The Council gave an undertaking that it would develop a traffic strategy plan similar to the Council’s Bike plane to look at issues of concern related to motorcycle scooter riders. In addition Haig Poulson undertook to before implementing any traffic engineering modification.  In less than two weeks the Council reneged on its undertaking and pushed ahead with the Princes Bridge proposal, a proposal that will impact on road users, motorcycle and scooter riders in particular.  Motorcycles safety is also at risk and they want equal access to many of the City’s bike lanes that are underutilized and in many cases empty.

Doyle Trial by deception. Pushes ahead on Princes Bridge lane closure

Melbourne City Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, thumbed his nose at the community and has decided to push ahead with plans to remove traffic lanes on Princess Bridge to make way for bicycles.

Robert Doyle claims the proposal is a trail by city insiders know this is not the case

The City Council has been criticised by the RACV, business and residents alike with Residents’ South of the Yarra complaining there were not been consulted .  South of the Yarra will be blocked-out from accessing the city as Princes Bridge is the MAIN access point to the City.


The number of cyclists using Princess Bridge is minimal and even less during during off-peak and the non summer periods.

Melbourne’s bike paths have come under considerable community opposition.  It’s bike madness.  The City of Melbourne is Engineering congestion.
 
The push for more bike paths in the City comes from City Engineers Geoff Robinson and Haig Poulson.

Last month the City Council had to defer it’s Road Safety Plan following complaints by Melbourne’s Motorcycle and Scooter riders that they were not consulted in the development of the Traffic management plan.

And it was not just Motorcyclist they were not consulted the City Engineer department also failed to consult Melbourne’s Emergency services, Ambulance or Fire Brigade.  Questions are being asked what impact the lane closure will have on Ambulances accessing the City from the Alfred Hospital?

The proposed lane reduction on Princes has been opposed by the RACV, Motorcycle/Scooter riders, businesses and City residents who have called on the State Government to step in and assume management of the City’s road infrastructure policy development and put a halt on the sheer madness that has engulf our city leaders.
 
The City Council is flushed with cash and the engineering department is keen to spend up big and issue contracts for expenditure that is not required.  

The Queensberry Street and LaTrobe Street bike paths are not working and the intersection of Latrobe Street and Queen Street is an accident waiting to happen.

You only have to travel down Queensberry Street and LaTrobe Street where the Council has spent over 2.6 Million Dollars constructing bike paths that service few bikes.  There is hardly a bike in sight on Queensberry Street yet the council has dedicated a full lane of traffic to bicycles generating congestion in the Street and beyond.

The City of Melbourne has proposed spending additional $300,000 in next years budget on a bike path in Neil Street Carlton. 

We contacted a number of Councillors today and asked them if they had been down Neil Street? They said they had not.  Had they done so they would see that there is no Bicycle traffic or significant car movements in Neil Street that warrants the construction of a $300,000 bike path.  Most bikes use Canning Street not Neil Street.

Robert Doyle is pandering to the wishes of a few at the expense of the majority and in the process demonstrating why he would not have been a good State leader.   

The Princes Bridge “Trial” and lane reduction is another chink in the Armour and is having a negative impact on City businesses .  City Commuters and business will pay the cost for the Council’s engineered congestion,

Doyle pushes for Princes Bridge lane closure

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle and the City of Melbourne plans to push ahead with the proposal to reduce traffic lanes in Princess Bridge to allow for the creation of a bike lane amidst opposition from  road users and the local community.

A reported 27,000 motorists use Princes Bridge to access the city a day .  The proposal is to reduced the number of car lanes from two in each direction to just a single lane to create a dedicated bike lane catering for less than 2000 bicyclists.

The Council’s claim to have consulted with stakeholders is false. The Council had consulted with bicycle riders, Vicroads and the RACV but has failed to consult with Motorcyclists, Scooter riders or local residents in South Bank or South Yarra.

Most traffic crossing Princes Bridge heading into the city turn right into Flinders Street and head east and also travel in the reverse direction when existing the city.

The proposed lane closure is expected to increase congestion in the city. The Flinders’ Street/Princess Bridge route is the only route that provides vehicle access to the South Yarra precinct.   Morall’s Bridge to the East which has been closed to vehicular traffic, is for pedestrians and bicyclist only.  The only other nearest means of crossing the Yarra into the City is along Alexander Parade/Swan Street Bride and the Batman Ave. Tollway that travels next to the Tennis Centre and into Exhibition Street.

Alexander Parade/Swan Street Bridge option is already congested with traffic backing up at Swan Street bridge as far back as Princess bridge and the Arts Centre  in peak hour traffic with little easing during the day.   This rout can not absorb any overflow created by Lane closure on Princes Bridge

The other option is for Motorists to travel down South Bank Boulevard around the Casino tuning left at Power Street and across into William Street or turn right and then along Queens Street.  Both of these options will increase travel time for motorists by 20 minutes and further add to city congestion.

The Council could look at constructing an new bridge linking Linlithgow Avenue to Batman Avenue but that would costs Millions of dollars. 

Transport Minister Terry Mulder says VicRoads has jurisdiction over the project.

“VicRoads would have to be consulted for any work that was to be undertaken on that bridge and any impact it would have on the broader road network,” Mr Mulder said.

Last month on 3AW Neil Mitchel Denis Napthine, Victoria’s  Premier, claimed that VicRoads had not signed off on the project.

Opposition spokesperson on Road, Luke Donnellan has also expressed concern over the proposed lane closure.  “The City of Melbourne must put in place alternative routes and measures before it can close down traffic on the bridge. All other options must be considered first.

Melbourne City Councillor Richard Foster echoing the views express by Luke Donnellan has called on the City of Melbourne to implement better line marking and bike path delineation before reducing traffic access to the City.

The City of Melbourne must rethink its proposed lane closure and consult more widely or run teh risk of a community backlash,.  South Yarra residents, who were not consulted, have expressed opposition to the proposal .  Residents are calling on Local State member and former deputy Lord Mayor,  Clem Newton-Brown to put a halt to the project and engaged in more consultation and consider alternative options.