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  • Free Parking = no parking

    (0) November 16, 2020

    Late released agenda items for Tuesday night’s council meeting include proposals from staff to make parking free and unlimited in the City to “encourage visitation”.  You can make a submission via https://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/about-council/committees-meetings/meeting-archive/pages/Future-Melbourne-Committee-17-November-2020.aspx.  Submissions must be made before 10:00AM Tuesday 17th November 2020. Agenda item 6.3, recommendation 16.3.

    Below are some points you could include.

    1. The policy will not work. Experience during lockdown showed that free parking = no parking. Parking is occupied by workers who arrive before customers.  In the case of evening and weekend activation of the CBD, hospitality workers will arrive before customers and take all the free parking.


      During working hours, extended or free parking is occupied by tradies who would normally park off-street or use public transport. Parking available for deliveries and drop-offs is actually reduced by free and extended on-street parking.

    2. Outdoor dining is central to recovery of restaurants. The City is converting parking space to dining space. How does it work to make the fewer remaining spaces unlimited and therefore unavailable? We need to be removing cars and parking to take advantage of the public open space provided by roads and streets. There is a reason why Melbourne’s laneways are so popular – they are car free.
    3. Encouraging more cars to enter the CBD does not encourage visitation. The dominant modes and the modes preferred under the City’s Transport Strategy are PT, walking and cycling. PT creates walking trips (last mile). Walking and cycling are discouraged, made less convenient and more dangerous by having more cars, so the policy will discourage the most common modes of access.
    4. Encouraging visitation to support businesses should aim at customers who will spend money. $10 flat fee from commercial car parks is small compared to the amount spent by CBD evening and weekend visitors and does not act as a disincentive.
    5. Car park operators have lost most of their revenue for the last 6 months, the free parking proposal will further reduce their revenue. There is ample space provided by off-street commercial parking providers, usually at a flat fee (unlimited time) during evenings and weekends, so on-street parking is a waste of scarce and valuable space.
    6. The officer’s agenda item is disingenuous regarding consultation on the City’s Transport Strategy. That consultation did not support encouraging more car trips into the City and the Strategy aims to reduce car travel, not increase it.
    Continue reading →

  • Council Elections 2020

    (2) October 10, 2020

    At these elections there are two tickets with an outstanding track record of supporting and achieving outcomes for bikes.  These are The Greens and Team Sally Capp. Here we present what we know about the candidates in relation to getting more people riding bikes.

    Cr Leppert (Greens) has worked tirelessly during his eight years on council for better outcomes for bikes and is the outstanding councillor candidate. The outcome of his hard work and advocacy put Melbourne in a position to move quickly during the pandemic, based on the plans and policies established in years previously.

    Sally Capp took office as Lord Mayor in a by-election in 2018, and has used her leadership position to change the council’s direction on bicycles. In her first week in office she was photographed by the Herald Sun riding to a meeting in the CBD, a statement more powerful than any words. This year during the pandemic she announced 40km of protected bike lanes to be built in the current financial year. Her only misstep has been an election promise of free parking on weekends to encourage visitation to the City. This puts at risk the street activation needed to locate dining and socialising outdoors, which is key to saving our hospitality businesses during the pandemic, also key to traffic calming the little streets and laneways. We predict free parking will be 100% occupied by workers, who arrive earlier than the diners and it will actually decrease parking available to visitors.

    Morgan-Watts Team

    Most councillor debate occurs behind closed doors and most motions are passed unanimously. This makes it hard to assess sitting councillors on their voting record.  A rare exception was Agenda Item 7.1 on Future Melbourne Committee 6th August 2013 when Cr Foster moved, and Cr Jackie Watts seconded a motion to defer any further works on the Princes Bridge/St Kilda Rd Bike Lanes (meeting minutes can be viewed at http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/about-council/committees-meetings/meeting-archive/meetingagendaitemattachments/621/aug13%20fmc1%20confirmed%20minutes.pdf). This came after extensive consultation with stakeholders and the community, permission from VicRoads to remove two car-traffic lanes on the bridge, and only a few days before the work was due to be carried out.  The key request in this motion was “an assessment of community concerns relating to congestion and public safety and any proposed remedy by management to address such matters.” (our emphasis). The motion was lost and the inbound bike lane went ahead, with Yarra Trams holding up the outbound lane owing to their plans to widen the outbound tram platform – the outbound bike lane on Princes Bridge later went ahead when Metro Tunnel closed a lane in Flinders St and Yarra Trams widened their platform.

    Cr Watts was kind enough to provide a response:
    “Rest assured my pro-cycling stance has not shifted. I have consistently voted in favour alf[sic] all pro cycling Motions.
    The Motion you cite was not opposing cycling – but reflecting community anxiety expressed to me. “

    Published policies do not mention bikes but encouraging driving to the free tram boundary; subsidise parking; retain car parking on planned open space adjacent to Vic Market (current plans underway will provide more parking than the current car park). https://jackiewatts.com.au/morgan-watts-policies/

    Other candidates

    We searched candidate statements for mention of bicycles and found these candidates in support:

    Animal Justice Party “more… cycling routes…”

    Innovate Melbourne – Startup The City “we like to ride our bikes…”

    In support of cars and parking we found:

    Back to Business “… Council’s war on cars”

    Team Arron Wood Quoted in The Age Oct 15, 2019 “… warned against excessive investment in bike lanes. “We’ve got to be mindful and realistic about some of these modal shifts and just how much they can deliver,” he said.”

    Bring Back Melbourne “… on-street parking credit”

     

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  • Has the Amy Gillett Foundation outlived its use by date?

    (2) June 1, 2020

    The Amy Gillett Foundation released its big coronavirus related campaign to get more bike lanes built in Australia yesterday. A lot of businesses signed on to the campaign, which shows just how many hard-working people support the foundation and its mission. But the AGF is starved of cash, undemocratic, and is now duplicating others’ work. It’s time for the foundation to close down and for its members to work with the rest of the cycling community towards its laudable goals.

    The AGF was started in response to the tragic death of track cyclist Amy Gillett in Germany in 2005. The organisation has a scholarship designed to support competitive female cyclists and also a program of research and advocacy to improve bicycle safety on our roads.

    One of the AGF’s strengths has always been its ability to use connections with the sports cycling world to garner support from corporate and conservative sections of our community. In a space dominated by left wing organisations, this was their unique advantage. They spearheaded the “A Metre Matters” campaign – which led to one metre passing laws in almost every state. These laws were often introduced by conservative governments, no doubt with the help of Liberal party heavyweight and ex-AGF board member Mark Texter.

    There has always been a diversity of groups supporting cycling advocacy in Australia. Each group has its own perspective, and they can work together towards a common goal. But diversity only succeeds if these groups can work together.

    With the “A meter matters” campaign largely complete, the AGF is struggling to figure out where it fits in with other organisations. Their latest advocacy campaign focuses on the right topics, but shows that it can’t work well with others.

    The campaign is a great idea – to get businesses to support temporary bicycle infrastructure in our cities. But they have largely duplicated the work already done by Cycling Works Australia and Bicycle Network. Cycling Works have put a massive amount of work into their business campaign, and other advocacy groups like Bicycle NSW and We Ride Australia respected and supported that work. Bicycle Network already has a fully-fledged campaign lobbying specifically for temporary lanes for coronavirus. The AGF has duplicated these efforts which makes advocacy look fragmented and makes it harder to get things done.

    The AGF also differentiated itself in the past with its focus on research. But there are limits to how much research can help. The benefits of cycling have been clearly established in hundreds of research papers. We do not need more research to know how to build safe bike lanes. The AGF’s latest project “Bike Spot 2.0” is a duplication of a very similar project that was completed only a few years ago. Repeating these projects over and over again is a good way to get grant funding, but the link to actual safety improvements is tenuous. The more organisations such as the AGF rely on government funding of this type to cover costs, the greater their desire will be to please governments instead of achieving real change.

    Because The AGF is not member based, it is less democratic than other cycling advocacy organisations and therefore does not respond well to changes in community views. For instance, the AGF were involved in negotiations with the NSW government that led to some of the highest cycling fines anywhere in the world. The AGF maintains its defence of mandatory helmet laws despite their association with discriminatory police practices towards children in low socioeconomic suburbs and their net health cost to the community. And they continue with their “share the road” campaign despite international evidence that this strategy is ineffective at changing driver behaviour.

    The AGF lost $180,000 last financial year, on total revenues that were down 15%. Annual reports for earlier years are not available, because the AGF’s website sends users to dead links and errors. The financial crunch has not just hampered their ability to run a functioning website, but it has also led The AGF to make decisions that put their independence into question, such as moving from their St Kilda Road office to desks at the ARRB group – a largely government funded organisation.

    Cycling advocacy is becoming a crowded field, and the damage done by having too many organisations is growing. Profits from events like the “Amy Grand Fondo” help to fund cycling organisations, and they now operate in a far more competitive space than 15 years ago where multiple charities and fun runs compete for attendance. The coronavirus crisis is only going to worsen the crunch for mass event rides, making it harder for them to subsidise advocacy. There are benefits to scale, and it no longer makes sense for Bicycle Network and the AGF to operate in this market.

    There is no reason for the AGF to continue to exist. The research functions would be more respected if branded by universities rather than lobbying organisations. The rides would be much more efficient if run by Bicycle Network. Federal cycling advocacy can be run by We Ride, and state advocacy would be more unified and co-ordinated if run by the various democratic organisations such as Bicycle Network and Bicycle NSW. The Amy Gillett scholarship can be awarded by Cycling Australia.

    The AGF’s employees, volunteers and supporters should continue their hard work to support cycling safety. But they will be much more effective at achieving change if the foundation ends and they work together with the rest of the cycling community.

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