Mar 292012

Right now Melbourne has a once-in-a-generation chance to make St Kilda Road a wonderful boulevard again. We can’t bring back all the gracious mansions that used to be there, but if we seize this moment, great things are possible.  So what’s happening?

  • Yarra Trams needs to expand the size of the tram stop between Flinders Street Station and Federation Square
  • The City of Melbourne is working on a new plan for St Kilda Road

Five years ago, the City of Melbourne prepared a draft plan that included kerbside, physically separated bike lanes. But when  leaked to the press, the idea was shut down by the previous government’s Minister for Roads. He was quoted as saying “My job…is to fix congestion, not to cause it” and “cars are critically important for the liveability of the city.” The plan was shelved.

But with the new government prepared to take a fresh look at St Kilda Road, the City of Melbourne is looking at the issue again.

Our vision

Melbourne BUG believes it is high time to ease the traffic burden on St Kilda Road, and create a better environment all the way from the City to St Kilda Junction as follows:

  • Construct a Swanston Street style tram stop joining Federation Square to Flinders Street station. The existing stop between the State Library and Melbourne Central is already operating successfully, and two more of these stops are under construction at Bourke Street and at Collins Street.
  • On Princes Bridge, bicycles would continue next to the trams, using what are currently the inner traffic lanes, while the outer lanes, next to the footpaths on either side, would be used only by taxis, accessing a rank on the bridge near Flinders St Station.  Taxis would take a U-turn at the top of the bridge next to the existing pedestrian crossing and exit to the south.
  • Outside the Arts Centre would be a pick-up and drop-off area (kiss-and-ride) for private cars, taxis and buses.  Bikes would continue alongside the trams, with minor modifications to the existing layout. All vehicles except for taxis would U-turn at the existing pedestrian crossing at the southern end of Princes Bridge.
  • South from Southbank Boulevard, a wide central median would be created, joining the existing tree lined medians, creating green open space and room for a two-way bike path. Bikes would be well away from motor traffic and all road crossings are already controlled with turning arrows, so bikes would cross alongside trams, totally protected. Accessing destinations in St Kilda Road, and turning off to side roads would be via traffic lights at intersections.

For a graphic depiction, see Arts Precinct to Southbank Blvd and Flinders Street Station and Princes Bridge.

All of the motor traffic using Princes Bridge turns into Flinders Street, mostly towards Russell Street. Forcing Flinders Street to try and be two roads creates gridlock during most of the day. Flinders Street doesn’t function well as a result. With the removal of the Princes Bridge traffic, Flinders Street alongside Federation Square can give up space for better uses:

  • A new taxi rank, serving destinations in the city and to the north, complementing the Princes Bridge rank.
  • Parking bays for Federation Square deliveries
  • A safe, physically separated bike lane meeting up with St Kilda Road and Swanston Street. This could continue the two-way bike lanes we have proposed for Flinders Street between Spring and Russell Streets, creating a more connected network for accessing the City and Docklands (via Swanston St and Latrobe Street, soon to get upgraded bike lanes).

Why it’s needed

Between Southbank Boulevard and High Street, there are two to four traffic lanes in each direction. Traffic bottlenecks at Princes Bridge as it narrows to two lanes, and is further constrained by cars using Flinders Street, where all the St Kilda Road traffic must turn. Flinders Street traffic backs up all the way to Spencer St because of this intersection, contributing to gridlock across the city.

The tram stop at Flinders St Station is the busiest in Melbourne and is overflowing, dangerously over capacity with passengers unable to get onto the platform. More space is needed for the tram stop, urgently. This will further constrain the number of motor vehicles that can enter the City here, so the whole of St Kilda Road will have space to spare.

But where will the cars go?

Hopefully there might be fewer of them. The CBD is overcrowded with cars – the real problem of congestion is not getting across the river, it’s fitting the cars into the City grid once they enter. There are alternatives – three new bridges into the CBD have been added in the last decade or so: at Exhibition Street, Collins Street and Latrobe Street.  These bridges have plenty of spare capacity. Vehicles travelling into the City via St Kilda Road can turn east or west to the toll bridge or to Queensbridge. The intersection of St Kilda Road and Southbank Boulevard, relieved of through traffic, could give more time to facilitate these turns.

What do you think?

We want to hear your opinions and ideas – please leave a commentcomment.


Age Editorial:

Age Article:

 Posted by at 10:46 pm

  4 Responses to “St Kilda Road Vision”

  1. Although I do agree that the bad traffic situation along Flinders Street could be addressed by stopping cars from entering Flinders Street via Princes Bridge, I think asking cars to detour either to the east via Linlithgow Ave, Alexandra Ave, Swan Street Bridge, Batman Ave or to the west via Southbank Boulevard, City Road, Power St, Queensbridge St Bridge to get into the city from the south is not realistic and simply couldn’t work giving existing usage of these roads. Although reducing the number connecting roads is one way to improve traffic flow, I think something grander is required for those that are simply trying to travel from the south of the city to the north, such as an North-South Tunnel. Certainly those wishing to traverse the city should be aided in this need and those with the city as their destination should also be aided, because moving around inside the city by car is ridiculously inefficient.

    Traffic heading north from St Kilda road is already restricted to two lanes from Southbank Boulevard northwards to the Princes Bridge, and the cycling is actually a LOT better during this stretch, likewise heading south from Princes Bridge. What really does need to change is the Princes Bridge where cyclists are squashed into a 50cm bike “lane” if you can call it that, and the wasted section of footpath marked as shared pedestrian/cycling zone can’t be used by cyclists heading north because there is no on/off ramps to the footpath. Fix the ridiculous shared zone on the bridge by lowering the marked cycle zone to road level and opening it up to access at each end of the bridge, separate pedestrians from bikes and bikes from cars and leave the rest of this area as it is.

    My only other suggestion is to introduce one way roads either all the way around the CBD or even on every second or every road, this reduces for example an two intersecting roads with 12 directions (straight, right or left from two way intersecting roads, ie 3 direction choices from traffic going 4 directions) to be catered for to just 4 (straight or right/left from two one way intersecting roads, ie 2 direction choices from 2 directions). This reduces friction between vehicles by a factor of 3, a clear win. While the roads are being re-done, just stick in two way cycle ways similar to those implemented in Sydney, shift the tram tracks apart and place the cycleways between the trams where necessary and get rid of this “tram super stop” stuff, its horrible to use as a cyclist and places pedestrians in harms way from those of us that prefer to cycle faster than walking pace.

    /Rant over.

  2. The St Kilda Road / Flinders Street Station tram stop could be an issue with treatment similar to Swanston / Latrobe Streets. There needs to be better delineation between cycle path and and tram stop. It has to be painted green no matter what. People still walk along the tram platforms after the tram has left leaving you having to avoid pedestrians. And there preferably needs to be a curb in non-tram stop areas to further re-instate this separation of footpath and bike lane.

  3. This is an excellent plan. Traffic along St Kilda Road is often gridlocked and going nowhere at Flinders Street. This plan would improve traffic flow along Flinders Street.

    Melbourne’s busiest tram stop outside the station would benefit too. Thousands use this every day. It is so busy that people often are forced onto the road. The tram stop can be redesigned and increased in size to improve amenity and safety.

    Encouraging bikes will reduce the number of cars on the road trying in vain to get into the CBD.

    This would also mean the busy footpaths along the bridge can be dedicated to pedestrians.

    This would a win for motorists, a win for cyclists and a win for pedestrians. This plan, if implemented, would greatly contribute to improving transport on Melbourne.

  4. Well done! I’ve thought for some time now that bicycle traffic would be best placed in the middle of St Kilda Rd right alongside the tram lines. Something like this seems to be what you are proposing though we really need to see a diagram to see exactly what you mean.

    As it is, St Kilda Rd is fairly disastrous for bikes. We all know the current bike lanes are in the door zone and they also aren’t anywhere near wide enough for you to avoid a door carelessly swung open on you without you being forced into the car lane. To top this all off, the bike lanes are also far too narrow at peak hour to allow the zoomers to pass the dawdlers like me. So we definitely do need two bike lanes in each direction, i.e. the right lane as a passing lane, for as it is St Kilda Rd can be a hairy experience even just due to our fellow cyclists.

    As for the tram stops not being big enough the thing is that if you could get the tram waiting time down to a minimum then there’d be far less people waiting at stops, wouldn’t there? Well, six years ago Yarra Trams proposed that all Swanston St trams would only run up and down from Melbourne Uni to St Kilda Junction and back, so that everyone one would just be able to jump on the first tram to arrive. So a wait of, what, one minute at most all throughout the day? If you were going any further then you’d have to change trams at the point where your current line diverted from this “spine”. Simple huh? I don’t know what happened to this plan but you can check it out at

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>