advocacy

Councillors' Ride of the Gateway Ward

On Saturday 30th March the BUG took Councillor Ogy Simic and Mayor Dick Gross for a ride around Gateway Ward to look at some bicycle infrastructure, both the problems and the good new things. Our route and list of issues is here.

Despite the chilly temperature, strong winds and looming grey clouds, we were lucky to get sunshine to ride in. Here we are starting at the Port Melbourne Rotunda.

Despite the chilly temperature, strong winds and looming grey clouds, we were lucky to get sunshine to ride in. Here we are starting at the Port Melbourne Rotunda.

We made an early stop on the Bay Trail at the Sandridge lifesaving club. Here, the trail diverts away from the waterfront and runs along Beacon Rd. We were concerned that the bus stop (below) is a hazard, as the advertising blocks sight lines, making it difficult for cyclists to see people waiting at the bus stop or oncoming cyclists.

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Next was a ride along Route 4 of the Integrated Transport Strategy (ITS), the Garden City extension. Beacon Rd needs an on-road protected route, especially through this roundabout—-

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Route 4 then becomes a shared path through the Garden City Reserve. Shared paths are not optimal (they are unpleasant for cyclists and pedestrians), and we hope no new shared paths will be constructed as part of this project. There is a short connection missing between Garden City and the Sandridge Trail.

On to the Sandridge Trail itself: we had a look at those irritating railing chicanes.

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Then over to Cecil and Moray Streets. We were impressed with the new separated path on the north end of Moray St, and the associated protected roundabouts. Hopefully all the new ITS routes are up to this standard.

On the protected bike lane on Moray St

On the protected bike lane on Moray St

All good things must come to an end! Moray St fizzles out when it crosses the border into the City of Melbourne, and our hours of sunshine were also up.

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Thanks to Ogy and Dick for your support for cycling; Pierre and Brendan for braving the weather and coming along; Simon for the photos; Dennis and Rochelle for keeping us on track; and Liz, Geraldine and Jo for the route planning and the admin support.

Update on the Integrated Transport Strategy

We reported before on the City of Port Phillip’s Integrated Transport Strategy. Impressively, it includes plans for 14 new separated, protected bike routes.

Planned protected bike routes

Planned protected bike routes

Port Phillip BUG met with the Mayor, Dick Gross, in February, to find out when these are going to happen.

Route 1 Moray St has already been implemented by the Melbourne Metro Project.

Route 2 Albert Rd— Kerferd Rd has been taken over by the State Government, in the form of the Shrine to Sea project. It’s being administered by Parks Victoria. We’ve participated in a consultation about this, but we’re not really sure what is going to happen and when.

Routes 3 and 6 are to be completed by 2021-2022. Route 3 is the Park St Link. We don’t know if any planning has started on this yet. Route 6 is Inkerman St. There are some plans for very minor upgrades at some intersections (not much more than green paint).

Planning has started on route 4 (Garden City link to Sandridge trail) but all that is publicly available so far are plans for a minor upgrade to the shared path.

Routes 1—13 are to be completed by 2028, with the remainder completed after that.

We will continue to monitor progress— even the best plans are useless if they’re not implemented!

Voting for cycling in the November state election?

In the lead up to the November election, the Port Phillip BUG sought meetings with local candidates.  We also surveyed the local candidates, with only two responses, from the Greens and Animal Justice Party. We’ve looked at their party policies— unfortunately while individual candidates may be supportive of cycling, their party may not be.

Therefore I’ve covered firstly the party policies, and secondly the individual candidates.

Also see the Bicycle Network’s analysis (I’ve used their scores),  and Yarra BUG’s podcast.

PARTY POLICIES

Australian Labor Party:  C+

If the past performance is a guide to future results, then there is not much to look forward to here:   the Labor government has been missing in action on making cycling safer and more accessible.   

The main initiative promised at the last election was the creation of a new body responsible for active transport.  Active Transport Victoria has produced very little— it seems to be little more than a handful of media releases and an email address ( activetransport@ecodev.vic.gov.au  if you’re interested in asking them what they’ve been doing the last couple of years)

We’ve seen a few new cycle routes, such as those under the new Skyrail (unfortunately these are shared routes— definitely not best practice, or comfortable for pedestrians OR cyclists).   But very little in the way of making sure our principal bicycle routes are safe, and many missed opportunities to upgrade bike routes when other road works are being undertaken. 

In particular, plans for improving the key St Kilda Rd route have been put on ice.

New promises for this election:   Labor has promised to build separated cycle routes on St Kilda Rd.  While many local residents would prefer curbside lanes allowing them to safely access homes and workplaces, the plan for a cycle way in the centre of the road would be better than the current situation, and be particularly convenient for people travelling from the suburbs to the city.

Labor are also promising an upgrade of the trails network in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

Liberal Party:  C

Cycling doesn’t seem a priority for the Liberals:  they’ve announced a few tourism-related projects in regional Victoria, and they support minimum passing distance legislation, but there isn’t much else on offer.

More seriously, they would like to grade separate many road intersections.   This would be disastrous for cycling and walking— imagine the mess of St Kilda junction replicated across our city, for example at the intersection of Glen Huntly and Brighton Roads.    It could well be that conditions for cycling will decline under a Liberal government.

Greens:  A

The Greens’ policy includes a $250m commitment to cycling, which will cover (among other things) a 17km Elsternwick-to-Sydney Road separated cycling path, taking in St Kilda Rd and Swanson St on the way.  It is also promising that cycling infrastructure will be funded independently of road works.   

Animal Justice Party:

While the published policies are mostly about animals, in the response to our survey local AJP candidate Tamasin Ramsey said: On the basis of [our] values, we support creating dedicated and separated bike lanes. This gives equal consideration to cyclists, in an environment where cyclists are vulnerable to bike lanes that exist alongside moving traffic, that included a growing number of heavy and imposing vehicles. Supporting cycling is rational because it enhances human health (both physical and mental), engages people with their community, and often improves their engagement with the natural world, including appreciation of – and sensitivity to - other species. All of these factors contribute to the wellbeing of our neighbours and thereby support healthy neighbourhoods.

Now, to the candidates (this is not an exhaustive list— just the ones we were able to make contact with):

ALBERT PARK ELECTORATE

Martin Foley, LABOR (incumbent).   The BUG has met with him twice in last term of government, and while he is clearly interested in and supportive of cycling, we’ve seen very little follow up on the issues we’ve raised, with the notable exception of St Kilda Rd separated lanes.

Andrew Bond (Libs):   As a local councillor, he’s come along on a BUG ride to see local infrastructure issues.  He’s also personally supports the St Kilda Rd separated lanes (not matched by his party).  

Ogy Simic (Greens):  As a local councillor, Ogy has come along on our infrastructure rides and advocated for cycling improvements.  He’s sought out the BUG for comment on various issues and is a frequent bike rider himself.

Tamasin Ramsey (Animal Justice Party).   The AJP is not campaigning strongly on issues related to cycling, but Tamasin often commutes by bike and has a good understanding of the issues facing local cyclists.

BRIGHTON ELECTORATE

James Newbury (Liberals).  James was keen to meet with the BUG before the election.  He doesn’t have much experience cycling, although he does personally support the St Kilda Rd separated lanes project (not matched by his party) and seemed happy to listen to our concerns.  He has been a vocal supporter of a signalised pedestrian crossing of Glen Huntly Rd, at the canal.

Katherine Copsey (Greens).  As a local councillor, Katherine has been an advocate for cycling infrastructure, especially the St Kilda Rd separated lanes and other separated cycle ways, such as the Kerferd Rd improvements.   She has come along on both our infrastructure bike rides, and sought out BUG comment on various issues.   In her response to our survey, she writes: As an everyday cyclist myself I understand the difference dedicated bike infrastructure makes and am committed to advocacy and action so more people than ever can enjoy the freedom, fitness and fun of getting around safely by bike.

PRAHRAN ELECTORATE

Sam Hibbens (Greens), incumbent: In the last term of government Sam Hibbens was able to get the traffic flow on Union St changed, to allow cyclists to travel straight ahead. He had been an advocate for separated lanes on St Kilda Rd and improving safety on Chapel St.

Ogy Simic, Katherine Copsey and BUG members checking out Kerferd Rd.

Ogy Simic, Katherine Copsey and BUG members checking out Kerferd Rd.

Andrew Bond checking out the infrastructure on Fitzroy St

Andrew Bond checking out the infrastructure on Fitzroy St

Responsibility for election comment taken by Julie Clutterbuck, 93 Spray St Elwood.

Victorian State Election: candidate survey

We have an election coming up in November!

Port Phillip BUG has sent a survey to our local candidates (seats of Albert Park, Brighton, and Prahran, and the upper house Southern Metropolitan division). The questions are:

  • Separated cycles lanes are the safest option for cyclists. Will you (and your party) support separated cycle lanes on St Kilda Rd and prioritise installation by 2021?

  • There are many VicRoads controlled roads that are part of the Principal Bicycle Network. Will you (and your party) support VicRoads upgrading the routes in your seat to separated bicycle lanes?

  • Please provide a link to your cycling policy.

  • If you gain office, are there any actions you plan to take, in addition to your party policy, to get more people cycling, more often, and more safely? (Incumbents: you may include actions you've taken over the last term of office).

We’ll post responses here as we receive them. (If you are a candidate and haven’t received a survey, email portphillipbug@gmail.com and we’ll send you the link).

Port Phillip Council's new Transport Strategy: a massive leap forward

The Move Connect Live Integrated Transport Strategy rightly emphasises Active Transport, and backs this up with strategic and ambitions plans for action.

At the heart of the cycling strategy is a plan to build separated cycle lanes along 11 cycling corridors, with plans for 3 more after 2028.   

Proposed cycling corridors.   Original map  here.

Proposed cycling corridors.   Original map here.

This is excellent:  we've seen cycling strategies come and go with mealy-mouthed "action items" focussing on "encouraging behaviour change"  but study after study has shown that the single best way to substantially increase the number of people cycling is to protect them from heavier vehicles.

In the absence of protected lanes, the proportion of trips taken by bike is likely to remain under 3%, undertaken mainly by committed enthusiasts.       By building a network of separated lanes, cities like Seville and London have massively boosted their cycling rates.   Separated lanes also result in higher cycling rates among women, children, and the elderly.

The network proposed is reasonably comprehensive, although Fisherman's Bend seems rather under-served.   

Of course the success of this policy will be in the implementation, but comparing this strategy to our neighbouring councils shows that City of Port Phillip is light years ahead:  Glen Eira's recent Integrated Transport Strategy could come up with no better than to "plan and design a pilot cycle corridor improvement project with a protected cycleway to encourage an increase in cycling"; similarly, Stonnington's cycling strategy has a lot of auditing, liaising, encouraging participation, and "investigating opportunities", but the only plan for actual provision of safe cycling routes is improving some existing off-road trails.  Well done CoPP!

The strategy is not perfect.   Omissions include:

  • Fisherman's Bend needs to be included in the cycle network.
  • The following roads should be included in the network, for construction post-2028 if necessary:  Glen Huntly Road; Glen Eira Rd east of Brighton Rd.
  • The signalised crossing of the Elwood Canal with Glen Huntly Road has already been supported by Council, and should appear on either in the pedestrian or cycling section of the plan.
  • The off-road shared/cycle paths form important commuter links,  and should be included in the map to give a full picture.  These include the cycle lanes in Albert Park, the Sandridge cycle trail, and the Elwood Canal.  (The Bay trail is included.)
  • Route 9, labelled as Acland St/Mitford St/Beach St, seems to be mapped to Selwyn Avenue, rather than Beach St.
  • Route 7,  Sandringham Line/ Westbury St - Ripponlea to Windsor, should include connection to Glen Eira.  There is already a well used route to Glen Huntly Rd on both sides of the railway line east of the railway line, but there needs to be a safe crossing of Hotham St.   This route could include a contraflow lane on Lyndon St, which is currently one-way.

Otherwise, an excellent step forward.   

I encourage filling in the survey (before 30th July) to show your support (and identify any other gaps).

Sandridge Trail

The Sandridge rail trail is a shared use path that connects Station Pier in Port Melbourne and City Road, just south of the CBD.   It's a pleasant and convenient route, but it falls short of being a high quality off-road route. 

Interactive map is  here.

Interactive map is here.

This path is well used by people cycling and walking.  

This path is well used by people cycling and walking.  

Shared path.   When I rode this path on a sunny morning it was well used by cyclists and people walking, particularly older people.   Shared paths are not ideal.  People walking dislike cyclists riding past at moderate cycling speeds (20km/hr), while enforcing a "code of conduct" for pedestrians (e.g requiring that they stay left at all times, avoid walking in groups, and strictly controlling small children and dogs) destroys the pleasure of the walk.   On the other hand, requiring cyclists to ride at slow speeds while passing pedestrians decreases the utility of this as a transport route.    The best practice here would be to create separate paths for walking and cycling, where space allows.

Path loses priority at Bridge St.

Path loses priority at Bridge St.

No crossing at Bridge St.   This needs either a zebra crossing (raised) or a signalised crossing with bike/pedestrian priority.   At the very least, it should have a "keep clear" zone to prevent vehicles from blocking the route while queuing (the gates of the tram crossing are just to the left of the view above).

I'm not sure what works are being done here at Ingles St-- hopefully a better crossing!

I'm not sure what works are being done here at Ingles St-- hopefully a better crossing!

Rails blocking the path.   At the tram depot, the path is blocked by yellow rails that are supposed to force cyclists to give way to trams leaving the depot.     These rails slow cyclists down and are extremely difficult (if not impossible) for people towing trailers, or riding long wheelbase bikes, or riding trikes.    A better solution would be to have gates that close when trams approach, leaving the path unimpeded at all other times.

At the first tram depot crossing.

At the first tram depot crossing.

At the second depot crossing. This gentleman told me that he'd recently slipped and fell on the tram tracks.

At the second depot crossing. This gentleman told me that he'd recently slipped and fell on the tram tracks.

Poor connection to the city.   The trail just ends at City Road, with no clear safe connection across the river to the CBD.

Almost at the city, but not quite!

Almost at the city, but not quite!

Canal Ward update

Some good news:  Following our bike tour and Ed Cook's petition, Port Phillip Council has supported a crossing with signals on Glen Huntly Rd.    Moreover, they have contributed $50000 towards the cost.  The remaining cost will need to come from VicRoads, and council has written to the roads minister Luke Donnellan requesting this. 

Furthermore, the list of comments and sites was given to Council's Transport Safety Engineering Team.   Here is the list of their responses.

As we have become accustomed to, VicRoads seems to be the biggest hold up, with many comments along the lines of "We'll ask VicRoads if they can do this".   

It's also worrying that they consider a 1.5m wide bike lane (on Brighton Rd) sufficient to avoid the door zone--- Austroads guidance is that on a 60kph road, there should be a buffer of 1-1.5m between cyclists and passing trucks.   So it seems that we can be buffered from the doors, OR the trucks, but not both!

Thanks to everyone who helped.  The Lake Ward tour will be coming up in June.

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Councillors' tour of bike infrastructure in the Canal Ward

On Thursday 8th March we took Councillors Katherine Copsey, Tim Baxter and Dick Gross for a tour around the Canal Ward to look at the infrastructure that makes riding a joy... or a nightmare.  (Handout with map and site descriptions here.)

 

It was a beautiful day for a ride!

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We observed the absence of a safe crossing on the Canal path at Glen Huntly Road.

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And discussed the promised counter-flow bike lane on Blessington St--- when will this happen?

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Thanks to our hard-working councillors Dick, Katherine and Tim, and to Simon for the photos, and to our volunteers Georgie and Rochelle for keeping everyone on track.  

We'll tour the Lakeside and Gateway wards later this year.

The case for Glen Eira Road/Neerim Road as a "safe cycling route"

... in response to Glen Eira's Draft Integrated Transport Strategy

(This is a little out of our council area, but it's my commute so I thought I'd respond.)

Glen Eira Council is currently seeking community feedback on their Integrated Transport Strategy.

The document has some good aspirations, including a shift to 50% active transport modes (public transport, cycling, walking).  However the proposed actions are too feeble to deliver them.

The most glaring absence to me was the absence of Glen Eira Rd/Neerim Rd from the proposed network of "safe cycling streets". 

Draft "safe cycling streets"

Draft "safe cycling streets"

The Glen Eira Rd/Neerim Rd route ought to be included, because:

*There is a very large distance (2.7km) between the nearest east-west routes, Inkerman Rd to the north and Dover St to the south,  which would require a deviation of several kilometres for some cyclists.   Since the most suitable trips for mode switching to cycling are those trips under 5km, this is a large distance.

*This route was part of the Principal Bicycle Network.   It is already a well-used route, as shown by the Strava heat map below, demonstrating the need for a cycling route here.

* Glen Eira road is eminently suited for a main cycling route:  it is very wide, has no tram tracks, and even with fully separated lanes, could still fit a lane of parking along one of the sides of the road.  

* Neerim Rd is currently very narrow, with bikes forced to take the car lane.  Removing parking along this lane to allow a bike lane would increase traffic flow for cars.

* This route has many schools along it (Ripponlea Primary School, Caulfield Grammer, Shelford, Glen Eira, Mt Scopus etc) with poor provision for safe cycling for the students.  It's not clear how the 'Safe School Zones' will work for these schools with no east-west "safe cycling routes" closer than a kilometer away.

*While ideally a completely protected cycling route (as described in the strategy) would be ideal here,  a significant improvement could be made by merely removing parking, or even by removing parking during peak hours.   In this way it would be easy to stage the introduction of improved cycling facilities.  

Make comments on the Glen Eira Integrated Cycling Strategy here

This route is well used.

This route is well used.

We need a crossing where the canal path meets Glen Huntly Road

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At this point, the canal bike path is cut by a busy road, and is difficult for vulnerable users to cross.    There is a crossing 40 or so metres down the road, staffed by a crossing guard during school times.  This is great when it is staffed, but of no use outside those times.   

This problem is recognised by CoPP:  in 2012, the Sustainable Transport Plan stated:

Issue: Elwood Canal is a major attractor of pedestrian movements however there is no formal pedestrian crossing provision at the entrance to Elwood Canal on Glen Huntly Road

Proposed solution:  Design and construct new pedestrian operated signals along Glen Huntly Road near to the entrances to the Elwood Canal path.   


When we met with VicRoads in May 2017, we found that VicRoads "recognises the importance of providing a signalised pedestrian operation near Elwood Canal and Elwood Primary School on Glen Huntly Rd.  In consultation with the City of Port Phillip, VicRoads has developed a proposal to provide a pedestrian operated signal at this location. This proposal will be reviewed for funding consideration in a future program."

We also raised this issue with local MP Martin Foley in August 2017 but have not heard anything from him on this.  

Update 6/3/18:  one of the parents at Elwood Primary School has started a change.org petition to council.

Advocacy success: Union St, crossing of Punt Road

This happened a while ago, but we are very excited that the Union St crossing east of Punt Road (heading westbound) now allows bicycles (only) to continue straight ahead!  This came about from a bike ride we led MP Sam Hibbens (Prahran electorate includes St Kilda East) on.  He took it to the Road Safety Minister and VicRoads made these infrastructure changes.  It enables cyclists from Balaclava, East St Kilda, Windsor and Prahran to ride Westbound along Union Street and directly connect with St Kilda Road – avoiding chaotic St Kilda Junction, one of the worst parts of St Kilda Road.  Tell your friends, and let us know what you think!

Submission on Draft Domain Precinct Plan

Metro Tunnel is asking for comment on the Draft Domain Precinct Plan.

The Port Phillip Bicycle Users Group supports the proposed design for cycle facilities shown in the draft design.   

There are two proposed locations for separated cycle lanes on St Kilda Rd--- either centrally located, or at the edges of the road, Copenhagen style.

There has been no public consultation as yet on these options.

The Bicycle Network supports the centrally located lanes.

However, the Port Phillip BUG would like to see both options fully modelled and go to public consultation.   We are concerned that the central option treats the cycle lanes as a freeway, good for commuters from the suburbs accessing the city, but neglects many people who have midblock destinations along the length of the road.   

The Domain station proposal shows Copenhagen style lanes, but states that the design is also compatible with centrally located lanes.

While the location of the lanes is still uncertain, it would be prudent to make certain that centrally located lanes are compatible, by providing alternate plans showing the central lanes.

We also request that VicRoads not waste any more time and promptly hold consultations on both options.