Dec 102013

Update 24/12/2013

Council has informed Melbourne BUG that their proposal to continue the bicycle lane to the intersection was refused by the State Government (through Vicroads), with the following justification (Council’s statements are in italics, our responses are in bold font).

The likely impacts of the proposed Melbourne BUG treatment are outlined below.
Less green time for cyclists: the proposal would require extensive changes to the traffic signals at this intersection. Because cyclists and turning traffic would need to be time separated under the proposal, there would be significantly less green traffic signal time for cyclists. Therefore cyclists would have longer wait times and may be tempted to ignore the signals.
Less green time for pedestrians: the proposal would also require fully controlled left turns, thus potentially reducing pedestrian green times, and leading to longer waits and longer queues for left turn vehicles in Elizabeth Street.  
The additional time offered by the current design is only useful if you are prepared to ride, or walk across the intersection at the same time as cars are turning. Bikes are very efficient at moving through an intersection, a given number of people on bikes can traverse an intersection much more quickly than the same number of cars.
Limited road space: given the width of Elizabeth Street between the existing kerbs, we could not provide a bicycle lane, a physically separated island, a turn lane and two through lanes at appropriate widths. Providing narrower lanes or a narrower physical separator may compromise safety.
Given the width of Elizabeth Street at this point, it is a telling indication of the Victorian Government’s priorities to hear that there would be insufficient width to provide a safe bicycle lane.
Intersection capacity and efficiency: given the impacts outlined above, the proposal would reduce the efficiency and capacity of the intersection (how many vehicles / bicycles would pass through during each green cycle).
It’s all about facilitating people driving their cars to work. Morning peak is when the left turning cars are a congestion problem.
The current Elizabeth Street design has been utilised in other areas of the City of Melbourne, and has been found to be effective.  The turning motorists will cross the bicycle lane when entering the turn lane and safety at this potential conflict point is managed through green cycle lane pavement.  Cyclists and motorists should of course approach the conflict area with awareness and share the road.
Do you find this type of treatment effective? Do you feel safe?
The approved design removes the conflict between angle parking (and reversing vehicles) and cyclists and therefore offers a major improvement to cyclist safety over the existing conditions.
The kerbside lane, as far as it goes, is a major improvement, and is supported by Melbourne BUG.
As with all other bicycle installations, the City of Melbourne will monitor the safety and effectiveness of the Elizabeth Street physically-separated bicycle lanes and any safety issues arising from the treatment will be discussed with VicRoads
Be sure to report any crashes to Council.  Police also, but they are unlikely to record any crashes unless somebody is taken to hospital.

Original Post 10/12/2013

Elizabeth Street proposed "separated" bike lane design

Above is the graphic describing the proposed “kerbside” bikelane in Elizabeth St. These lanes will run on both sides of Elizabeth Street between the Haymarket roundabout and Queensberry Street.  You can see that bikes will emerge from behind the parked cars, immediately into the path of left-turning cars.  The cars have a green arrow for part of the cycle, so they are expecting to have absolute right-of-way and won’t be slowing down. The cars won’t see bikes coming down the hill, until they come out in front of them.

Melbourne BUG’s proposal, given to Council at an early stage, was to keep the bikelane kerbside all the way to the stop line. Left-turning cars and straight-ahead bikes can be separated in time and space by using the traffic light cycle. There is a turning phase already in use here, when cars turn right from Queensberry into Elizabeth, exiting the City, and left turning cars coming towards the City down Elizabeth St get a green left-turn arrow. During this phase, bikes would get a red light (stopping straight-ahead movement but still allowing left turns into the Queensberry St bike lane). During the straight-ahead green light in Elizabeth St, left-turning cars would get a red arrow under the BUG’s proposal, making it safe for cyclists to go straight ahead.

The type of design proposed by Melbourne BUG is standard in the Netherlands, and is increasingly in use in Copenhagen.

The design proposed by the City of Melbourne undermines the purpose of the protected bike lane. Why does the protection run out where it is needed most, at the intersection?

Answer, the City of Melbourne doesn’t believe in its own Transport Strategy.

For example, page 50 of the Transport Strategy includes “Traditionally, traffic growth has been met by allocating more space to cars often at the expense of trams, buses, pedestrians and cycling…the municipality’s road network needs to be optimised for the more space-efficient modes, including dedicated lanes for trams, bus priority lanes, bicycles lanes, wider pedestrian footpaths, safer and more comfortable level access tram stops and significantly better priority for space efficient vehicles at traffic lights especially trams, buses and pedestrians.

The City’s “Road Safety Plan” states on page 25 “…the City of Melbourne proposes a city where people take priority over the flow of traffic.” and “…the City of Melbourne clearly prioritises pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, particularly within the central city as having a key role in the future prosperity, liveability and sustainability of the city. On this basis…vulnerable road users should be supported by the physical environment…”

In practice, not so much.

Please write to Cr Cathy Oke, chair of Council’s transport committee and ask for the BUG’s safer design to be implemented.

Cr Cathy Oke
Phone: 03 9658 9086

City of Melbourne
GPO Box 1603
Melbourne VIC 3001

 Posted by at 5:05 pm

  7 Responses to “Shockingly Dangerous”

  1. Previously, I would ride this route every day from Brunswick to Flinders Lane, but the new tramstops on Eliz Street make cycling on Eliz very inefficient…my only other choice is to brave the Circle-of-Death (Haymarket) and go down Peel/William Streets, which are much wider and safer than Eliz St tram-stop-gridlock and the downhill autobahn between Q’berry and Victoria Pde.

    How does Council expect southbound cyclists to safely move from the outside ‘premium’ cycling lane to the inside traffic lane when planning to travel directly through the Vic Pde/Eliz St intersection?

    Probably 90% of cyclists on this stretch of Eliz St split lanes illegally, with traffic moving at high speed (20kph+) on either side! I’m really surprised that I haven’t seen any accidents there. Has anyone considered putting the bike lane in the inner-inside lane (beyond the nature strip, next to the tram)?

    • Have you seen the tram stops on Whitehorse Rd between Union Rd and Box Hill? Take a gander with google street view…

      A bike lane goes behind the tram stop and immediately has you crossing a side road after mixing it with unaware tram passengers. I’ve witnessed at least half a dozen crashes here, and a couple that resulted in broken bones and concussion.

  2. Sent the councillor an email, Elizabeth st is already destroyed with super tram launch pads and no bike lanes – hopefully it doesn’t get any worse. get with the times Melbourne

  3. Agree – this is already a problem at the bottom of the Albert St. Every single day without fail, conflict at the intersection with Hoddle St. Peak hour sucks there, would be a shame to incur the same issues here.

  4. What’s the proposed buffer between passenger doors and the bike lane?

    Also isn’t a bike lane here relatively useless when the rest of Elizabeth st has been made so bike unfriendly and the hay-market roundabout isn’t giving any favours for cyclists either.

    • The protected lane (where it is protected) has a 1m raised buffer between parked cars and the bike lane. This prevents dooring and gives car passengers room to get out, especially those with luggage, prams etc. The BUG supports this design, but the buffer needs to continue to the stop line at the intersection – where there are no parked cars adjacent, the buffer can be narrower, down to 300mm as used alongside the platform tram stops in Swanston St north of Victoria Street.

    • Also, while Elizabeth Street further south is very bike-unfriendly, there is some logic to providing a high-quality connection between Haymarket and Queensberry, linking bike lanes in Flemington Road, Royal Parade and Queensberry Street.

      Not to mention the inadequacy of the Flemington Road bike lanes, which need to be kerbside protected lanes…

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