Clarendon Street is the southward extension of Spencer Street. The Clarendon Street Bridge is one of the four road crossings of the Yarra River entering the City. It could be an important bicycle route because of two high-quality routes that bring bikes toward the City:
- Off-road shared path from Station Pier Port Melbourne – ends at Clarendon Street
- On road physically separated kerbside lanes in Cecil Street South Melbourne
In the case of the Cecil Street lanes (installed by the City of Port Phillip) the City of Melbourne has identified a project in the bicycle budget for the next financial year, to continue these lanes further towards the City, ending in – Clarendon Street again. This is one of the many valuable and worthwhile projects the City is planning to implement in the coming year.
Conditions on the Clarendon Street Bridge however are appalling (for cyclists – see the video below), making these two important routes less useful than they might be. There is no safe and legal way to approach the City from Clarendon Street, not even as far as the shared paths on either bank of the Yarra River, let alone the CBD. The draft City of Melbourne Bicycle Plan, has many good projects in it but somehow the Clarendon Street Bridge is not among them.
If safe lanes were provided over the Clarendon Street Bridge, where would they get you to? After all, Spencer Street and Flinders Street are not exactly your favourite place to ride a bicycle are they? In the short term, a route towards the City along Clarendon Street would get you to the Southbank and Northbank shared paths. These paths are not ideal because they are heavily used by pedestrians and it is not attractive to either walkers or cyclists to mix under those conditions. In the longer term, the City is working towards finding a better east-west route to relieve the river paths of through bicycle traffic. Melbourne BUG supports implementing the State Government’s Principle Bicycle Network (PBN) and the inner city councils’ Inner Melbourne Action Plan (IMAP) bike network (copies of the City part of these are in the Draft Bicycle Plan) in respect of providing safe bicycle lanes in Flinders Street and Spencer Street.
The Bicycle Plan lists Flinders Street as “to be investigated” for provision of safe bicycle lanes, which the BUG supports, but the Clarendon Street bridge needs to be “investigated” at the same time, if we are not to perpetuate the gaps in the cycling network. In addition Spencer Street should be added “for investigation” as it is part of the PBN and the IMAP networks (also shown in the Bicycle Plan). Bicycle Network Victoria has an alternative proposal, to build a bridge for bicycles from Flinders Street Railway Station to Spencer Street alongside the railway viaduct. This would be expensive, but could be a good idea if it connects to the routes that go under it and at each end, including St Kilda Road (Princes Bridge), Queensbridge (where it would connect with the Sandridge Bridge shared path), and Clarendon Street.
Our proposal for the Clarendon Street Bridge is to provide a two-way bicycle road along the western edge of Clarendon Street, taking some space from the existing “kiss and ride” driveway in front of the Exhibition Centre, and continuing it over the bridge by using the existing footpath, while diverting pedestrians to the newer, under-cover walkway that crosses the river on the western side of the bridge. Perhaps this could be continued all the way up Spencer Street as a two-way bike road along the Railway Station side of Spencer Street, to link up with the proposed LaTrobe Street bicycle lanes. Imagine riding into the City from South Melbourne or Port Melbourne, crossing the river safely and either turning into Flinders Street or continuing along Spencer Street, all along safe, separated bike lanes.
Let the City know that the Clarendon Street Bridge needs to be made safe for bicycle users. Get involved in the consultation.
Any other feedback that you have about the Draft Bicycle Plan is welcomed by Melbourne BUG. Please let us know, not just about Clarendon Street, but about any part of the City of Melbourne’s draft Bicycle Plan, and help us improve our submission to make the plan even better.