Jan 302013

In material presented to the public by the City of Melbourne, prior to the opening of the new tram stops, the words "car-free" were used.  The actual rules are supposed to make it "car-free" for 7 hours out of 24.  These words are no longer on the Council's website, instead, in a letter to Melbourne BUG, we were told that "Although it has been closed to through traffic, Swanston Street is still a shared space for authorised vehicles, trams, cyclists and pedestrians. Authorised vehicles such as police cars, Yarra Trams vehicles and vehicles associated with roadwork's or deliveries with permits can legally park in Swanston Street at different times of the day. " MElbourne BUG is not aware of any Council motion changing the status of Swanston St from "car-free" to "shared".

The BUG has been told now on several occasions that enforcement will be stepped up. The photos on this page were taken between 8:20 and 8:25 on the morning of Wednesday 30th January 2013. None of the illegally parked vehicles had been issued with a ticket.

Melbourne BUG makes the following suggestions to improve the situation:

  • Declare the seven hours a clearway, instead of just No Standing. In addition, declare it a "Clearway tow-away zone".  Clearways are easier for drivers to understand, and carry higher penalties.
  • Install flashing LED signs at all the intersections leading into Swanston Street with text "No left turn" or "No turns" (bicycles excepted). These should be switched on during the 7 "car-free" hours.  For the rest of the time, an additional sign below could add "Authorised vehicles excepted".  All the illegally parked vehicles are also breaking the no-turns rule. Making this easier to see and understand BEFORE they enter Swanston St is a better outcome.  The signs will also encourage police to enforce the no-turn rules, as drivers will have no excuse for making a mistake.


 Posted by at 10:41 am

  4 Responses to “Swanston St – car free?”

  1. I find your article accompanied by the selected photographs to be more than a little unfair. In one photo, a contractor that carries out maintenance works in the CBD is shown and used to portray an "offender"…..when in actuality he is entitled to be there as he is working. I know this because I know him, and I too am in that position. Unfortunately, the cost of such having such a liveable CBD is ongoing and constant maintanence….and that requires equipment. All to often those of us who do these works are portrayed as an "unnecessary evil".  That is incorrect and unfair, and I wish groups such as yours stopped and thought before doing things like this.

    • It's a question of when that maintenance is done. Morning peak hour is not the best time.  There are 17 hours out of 24 when permit parking is possible. 

  2. Is there any discussion about the very bottom section between Flinders St and Flinders Lane?  Having to squeeze in between the police cars and the trams here really doesn't fit into any common-sense idea of 'bicycle friendly'.

    Personally  I'm not a huge fan of using Swanston St anyway, as I prefer to ride fast enough that I can manage my own among the traffic.  Unfortunately the attitude/behaviour of many drivers in the CBD makes that an unnecessarily unnerving challenge even for an experienced cyclist.



    The whole concept is an improvement but more could of been done to increase pedestrian / bike area. It still the same concept of  tram cars bikes pedestrians in seperate lanes. Where as a greater mixed use area (less or no bitchamen) would of also given more area to pedestrians, and made drivers feel uneasy about driving fast or parking. 

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