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.
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.
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 comment.