May 172012
 

Come to the final parliamentary hearing into the dooring bill.

Where: Parliament of Victoria, 1 Spring Street, Melbourne

When: Wednesday 23 May at 8.00pm, meeting at 7.30pm outside Parliament. If you get there late just go inside and report to the front desk – they’ll tell you where to go.

Speakers:  Bicycle Victoria, the Road Safety Action Group Inner Melbourne, Amy Gillett Foundation, Andrew Tivendale, the parents of James Cross, and Melbourne Bicycle User Group.

Parliamentary hearings can be a bit stuffy, but we’d like to have a presence there to demonstrate to politicians that the public’s concerned about this issue (if they haven’t already realised!!). It’s also worth hearing what bike advocacy groups, Andrew Tivendale, and James Cross’s parents, have to say about car dooring and cyclist safety.

More details of the hearing are at www.parliament.vic.gov.au/standing-committee-on-economy-and-infrastructure/legislation-committee/inquiries/article/1818

 Posted by at 5:29 pm
May 162012
 

Melbourne City Council has allocated money in its budget to reduce speed limits in the CBD to 40km/h.

But they’re still waiting for Vicroads, and the Minister for Transport, to sign off on the plan.

This would be a safety win for all road users – chances of death and injury decrease significantly between 50 km/h and 40 km/h. It will also make the urban environment a bit more relaxing for everyone.

Ultimately, we’re working towards 30 km/h in the CBD, strip shopping areas, and residential areas. That’s the speed at which it becomes much more feasible for cyclists and drivers to ‘share the road’, because it’s safer and we’re on a bit more of an equal playing field.

30km/h is an evidence-based speed limit that makes pedestrians and cyclists safer. Chances of survival increase rapidly 40km/h down to 30 km/h. According to the World Health Organisation, pedestrians have 90% chance of surviving car crashes at 30 km/h or below, but less than a 50% chance of surviving impacts at 45 km/h or above. It is likely that similar differences exist for cyclists.

Lower speed limits should be combined with traffic calming measures that make it physically difficult to speed, regardless of legal sanctions or ineffective signs. Both are needed: without traffic calming, drivers tend to ignore speed limits, and without speed limits, there are no legal sanctions and speed limits cannot be enforced.

Reducing speeds to 30 km/h will make Melbourne a safer place for pedestrians and a cyclists, and a nicer place to walk and hang out in. Where speed limits are higher than 30km/h, governments should provide safe bike lanes.

 Posted by at 8:29 am
May 162012
 

In its latest state budget, the Victorian Government slashed funding for the Vicroads Bicycle Program to zero.

This means big projects across Melbourne, including some that have already been started on, like the Federation Trail, are in limbo.

It means that there is no funding for the development of the Principal Bike Network, Melbourne’s network plan.

It means that safety issues we face every day will continue to be unaddressed, and new cyclists will continue to be discouraged.

In coming weeks, the Victorian Bicycle User Groups and Bicycle Victoria will working to reverse this short sighted decision.

We’ve got some actions in the pipeline, including a rally, that we’ll let you know of shortly (if you haven’t already, please follow us on Twitter, ‘like’ us on Facebook, or sign up to our mailing list).

And we also want to know your ideas. We’re particularly interested ideas for events or actions that are a bit more creative, entertaining and fun. Or if you have any special skills you can contribute.

Please let us know in the comments.

 Posted by at 8:21 am
May 112012
 

The City of Melbourne has published its draft budget for 2012/13. It includes a substantial increase in funding for bicycle projects: at $5.6M it’s about 4 times larger than last year. Thanks particularly to councillor Cathy Oke for piloting this budget increase and to all the councillors for supporting it.

The money will be spent on some significant projects including La Trobe St bike lanes, Elizabeth St (Victoria to Haymarket), a proper lane (although only in one direction) over Princes Bridge, bringing the Cecil Street lanes through up to Clarendon Street, and peak hour bike lanes in Exhibition St (these will connect the Yarra trail, via the shared path over the toll bridge, up Exhibition to join the new La Trobe St lanes). More detail is yet to be obtained on these projects, so watch this space.

The City’s press release is at www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/AboutCouncil/MediaReleases/Pages/Draftbudgetenhancesconnectedcity.aspx

 Posted by at 12:32 am
May 072012
 

Have Your Say

Melbourne City Council is asking you to choose one of four options for bike lanes along the full length of Latrobe Street. The options include two kerbside separated lanes and two other options which place the bike lane between parked cars and moving traffic. Whatever design is chosen will be used for the entire length of the street, from Spring Street to Spencer Street, linking to the existing lanes on the bridge down to Docklands.

HAVE YOUR SAY: You can have your say by filling out their survey. You can view details of the options here.

Which option should I go for?

Melbourne BUG supports Option 2

We know that a feeling of being unsafe is a major deterrent to riding in the Melbourne CBD. In 2008, 5 out of 10 cyclists indicated they felt unsafe cycling in the city of Melbourne. We believe that option 2 is the safest and the most likely to encourage more timid riders, as well as protecting existing riders.

Option 2 is for separated kerbside lanes on the inside of parked cars. These are similar to Swanston Street north of Victoria Street going up towards Victoria University. There is a wide, raised area between parked cars and bikes, giving plenty of room for car doors to open without going anywhere near you as you ride by. Car passengers step out onto this buffer, which is also wide enough for wheelchairs and prams, without impinging on the bike lane. The lane is wide enough for two bikes to ride side-by-side or for overtaking.

The Swanston Street north lanes have been successful in increasing bike trips and lowering the crash rate.

HAVE YOUR SAY: To support our recommended option, fill out the survey. and select option 2.

What are the other options?

Options 3 and 4 – unseparated bike lanes (green paint), similar to Queensberry Street

Options 3 and 4 are unseparated bike lanes on the outside of parked cars. Because they offer no separation from fast cars, they are less safe and more intimidating for potential cyclists. They place bicycles on the traffic side of parked cars, where they are vulnerable to dooring but also incursions into the bike lane by fast-moving traffic.

The highest quality lanes of this type are in Queensberry Street, but as you can see here, motor vehicles frequently use the wide bike lane as a spare traffic lane, often travelling a whole block in the bike lane, or double parking there. They look to the driver just like a traffic lane.

Option 1 – two-tiered footpath

Option 1 is a raised footpath which places you slightly lower than the pedestrians and just higher than the cars. Option 1 is OK, but more difficult and expensive to engineer than Option 2, so we believe it is less likely to be used widely. Option 1 is also less well separated from pedestrians and the car door zone, and less obvious to passengers getting in their cars. This may mean it is more likely to be obstructed.

Option 2b – narrowing the footpath to maintain a car lane

In the longer consultation paper, option 2 has been divided into 2a and 2b. In the survey, option 2a and 2b are both covered by option 2. We understand the council didn’t separate 2a and 2b in the consultation because they wanted to keep it simple and avoid confusing people.

Option 2b spends an extra $12 million dollars to narrow the already crowded footpath, reducing pedestrian space in order to maintain two car lanes and facilitate fast cars. Latrobe Street is not congested and this will encourage high speeds, which are dangerous for all road users, especially in the crowded CBD. It will also make for a less pleasant urban environment.

We’ll be telling the council that we don’t want 2b, and we also expect walking and public transport groups to. If you select option 2, you can also make a comment in the survey telling the council you want 2a, not 2b.

Where can I find out more?

You can view details about the options here.

Melbourne Times article on Melbourne, Yarra and Darebin councils all with projects for separated bike lanes.

 Posted by at 7:35 am
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.

Media:

Age Editorial: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/editorial/boulevard-of-promising-dreams-20120401-1w6d2.html

Age Article: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/bike-riders-bid-for-carfree-zone-to-extend-into-st-kilda-road-20120329-1w16z.html

 Posted by at 10:46 pm
Mar 142012
 

We liked the idea of the stickers that go on rear-vision mirrors of cars, reminding drivers to check before opening their door. It came up as a winner in Bikefest’s Better By Bike competition, but something similar was done by Vicroads a few years earlier, then withdrawn. Vicroads explanation was that  “community interest waned”. But we didn’t notice any waning of interest amongst those who use bicycles to get around. Perhaps Vicroads did not see it as important to stimulate community interest.

Now the Victorian Government has announced stickers are back on the agenda, but is it just the easy way out?  The State Coroner recommended education and behaviour change campaigns after the death of James Cross due to a car dooring.  But the coroner also recommended putting the bike lanes on the kerbside, to the left of the parked cars, as we already have in Swanston St north of Victoria St; in Albert St East Melbourne; in Cecil St South Melbourne; and in Fitzroy St St Kilda.

Meanwhile, last night the Government moved to refer the Greens’ bill on dooring penalties to a Parliamentary Committee.  While this delays any increase in the dooring penalty, it does open the possibility for you to send your thoughts to the Committee and ask for safe, separated bike lanes outside the dooring zone.

The government’s press release does not mention any commitment to this type of bike lane, which experience has shown to be both safer and to attract more cycling trips.  In Melbourne, evidence for this comes from the oldest kerbside lanes, in Swanston St between Victoria Parade and Grattan St. There, the number of crashes involving bikes has stayed almost constant (one fewer in the three years after the lanes opened compared to the three years before), while the number of bike trips has approximately doubled (based on report to City of Melbourne by their engineering department).

At the coronial inquest, Vicroads professed their support for kerbside lanes, and they have funded some of those constructed on local roads (Vicroads administers “declared” roads while councils maintain the rest —  “local” roads). We have yet to see Vicroads build any kerbside lanes on declared roads however, which is where they are most needed — on busy roads with fast-moving traffic. Under Vicroads “smart roads” strategy, many declared roads will be prioritised for motor vehicles, with bicycles marginalised to back-streets. Watch out for the release of the revised “Principal Bike Network” which Vicroads is still preparing.

The Government’s proposed sticker campaign doesn’t even extend to providing stickers to all car owners – they have to come and get them.  So it is likely to be ineffective and will probably be quietly shelved by Vicroads when “community interest wanes”.

Don’t let the Government get away with this wishy-washy response to a serious problem.  Write Premier Ted Ballieu and tell him we need better bike lanes and more of them — fast.  Bike lanes that have a buffer between parked cars and bikes, and on busy roads, bike lanes that are to the left of parked cars.

Premier Ted Ballieu, 1 Treasury Place, Melbourne, VIC 3000
ted.baillieu@parliament.vic.gov.au

 Posted by at 10:52 am
Feb 292012
 

That was awesome! What now? 

The rally today was fantastic. There are some photos in the previous post. And we just published some more great ones here on the Melbourne BUG Flickr page!

This is only the beginning. There’s so much more we can do if we work together. As we mentioned today, Melbourne City Council are looking at the possibility of a separated bike lane down Latrobe street. When push comes to shove on this and other issues, we’ll need to fire up and make our voice heard!

Email the transport minister about the dooring bill

This afternoon the car dooring bill was deferred until next parliamentary sitting week, 13 March, while the government considers its position. More time to lobby them!

Write to Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Edward O’Donahue – edward.o’donohue@parliament.vic.gov.au. CC the Minister for Transport Terry Mulder – terence.mulder@parliament.vic.gov.au. Ask them to support the bill and give us some safe bike lanes too!

Other ways to make your voice heard on bike issues

1) Write to your local state MP or local council about your bike issue

If you have an idea for a bike improvement, or something you want fixed, we suggest you write to your local state MP, who you can find here. You might want to email your local council too – find them here.

2) Join the Melbourne Bicycle Users Group

The Melbourne BUG campaigns for better cycling conditions in the City of Melbourne, which includes CBD and surrounds (ie Docklands, South/North/West Melbourne, Carlton, etc). We are for anyone who uses the CBD, not just people who live here!

This is only a temporary website but we have a new website here and you can subscribe for updates. You can also follow us on Facebook here or Twitter here. You can also join our google group here.

3) Join or start a local Bicycle Users Group

You can find the local group in your area here (list is a bit out of date, but should still have useful info). Some groups are more active than others. If there doesn’t seem to be much happening in your area, why not consider start something yourself?

We want to hear your ideas. There was lots of talk today about ideas people have for working together to make Melbourne a bike city. What do you think? What are your ideas about how we can work together?

 Posted by at 8:37 am
Feb 292012
 

A huge thank you to every one who came to Gordon Reserve at lunchtime today, to get pushy for cycling safety.  It was a fantastic turnout and great to see so many friendly faces. We are keen to keep in touch!

Thanks to Greg Barber MLC, for giving us the run down on the Dooring Bill.  We are right behind this initiative, and hope that it can be the starting point for some positive action to make cycling safer for all Victorians.

Finally, thank you to all the BUG members and friends, who wrote ideas on serviettes, painted placards, told their friends, decorated their bikes, took photos, showed their support, distributed flyers and handed out lychees.  We could not have done it without you.

 Posted by at 7:19 am