copp

Park St-- an eloquent plea to Port Phillip Council

An address to Port Phillip Council by Middle Park resident, and public health expert, Dr Claudia Marck, 18/9.

I’m Claudia Marck and I’ve been a resident of Port Phillip for over 10 years.
However I grew up in the Netherlands where, just like 43% of the population, I cycled daily from a young age so I’m a confident cyclist and know what good cycling infrastructure looks like.
I cycle almost daily from Middle Park to my work at Melbourne University. It keeps me fit and active. It’s an efficient and cost-effective method of getting to and from work as it’s faster and cheaper than public transport or driving. I should mention, I do also drive a car when I have to.
As a public health academic, I’m well aware of the range of health benefits of active transport. In Australia 55% of adults don’t reach recommended physical activity levels and two thirds of adults and one quarter of young people are overweight. This is a major cause of chronic disease. I can also touch on the climate emergency but others have done that already tonight. So I think the benefits of promoting cycling is overwhelming. Getting more people on bikes also clears up the road for people who have to drive because of disability or other reasons.
In terms of behaviour change, science is clear that behaviour that is learned early in life is more likely to stick. So wouldn’t it be great to get kids and young people cycling to school and help them reach recommended physical activity levels and prevent overweight and associated chronic disease. For students to cycle to universities and TAFE. For people like us to cycle to work and the supermarket and not having to take the car to the gym. The biggest problem at the moment is that it’s simply unsafe to do so.
I’ll get to my point now, I’d like to ask that you prioritise safe cycling infrastructure. What does that mean? It means bike lanes that you would feel comfortable letting young kids cycle on. This means a bike lane that is physically separated from the foot path from parked cars and most importantly, physically separated from the road. If there is no physical barrier, it means cars, taxis, Ubers, delivery vans and trucks will use bike lanes as an overtaking lane, pick up spot, loading zone or swerve into when they’re looking at their phone. This is a reality for me every single day. I get cut off, pushed into the traffic by parked cars pulling out, get doored, have to go onto the road because it’s blocked etc. This doesn’t happen on bike lanes with physical barriers.

As a driver, I also prefer a physically separated bike lane, as it can be scary overtaking cyclists on narrow roads.
So in conclusion, a safe network of connected bike lanes should be priority for a healthy and active community. I hope you can find a way to prioritise a continuous separated bike lane on Park St as part of the domain precinct master plan.

More on Park St

First post on Park St is here.

We are continuing to argue for completely separated and safe bike lanes on Park St. The draft masterplan shows separated lanes east of Kings Way, and painted lanes between car parking and moving vehicles west of Kings Way.

In August the BUG met with Port Phillip Mayor Dick Gross and council officers, who said that while active transport was being “prioritised” on this route, they did not want to lose a number of car parking places, particularly the ones in front of the properties on the north side of Park St, between Law St and Kings Way which do not have off-street parking from Park St (there is however rear lane access). The properties on the south side of the street have off-street parking.

Council’s masterplan prioritises on-street car parking here

Council’s masterplan prioritises on-street car parking here

While there is currently a lot of room on this section of Park St, the plan is for new tram tracks to be installed, as part of the Melbourne Metro project. With the new tram tracks, there will still be sufficient room for completely separated bike lanes: this is a matter of priorities.

Council plans to build the separated lanes on the east end in FY 2019/2020. The new tram tracks are not expected to be built for another 5 years or so, when Melbourne Metro is finished.

We are advocating that when council builds the east end separated lanes this year, they mark parking-protected lanes, with temporary flexible bollards, on the west end. This will allow people to connect the separated lanes on Moray St with the ones on Park St, at least for some years. Our submission is here.

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.

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).

Councillors' tour of the Lake Ward

On Tuesday 12th June we took Port Phillip Councillors Katherine Copsey, Andrew Bond, David Brand, Dick Gross and Ogy Simic on a tour of some interesting sites in the Lake Ward in Port Phillip. (Councillor Tim Baxter and Albert Park MP Martin Foley sent their apologies.)  Lake Ward covers St Kilda, Albert Park, and Middle Park.   The handout with the route is here. I've added some of the extra things we noticed on the ride to the map below (in purple).

We started at St Kilda Town Hall.   The first thing we observed was the time it took for us to walk across the pedestrian crossing at Brighton Road.   These crossings seem optimised for cars, rather than pedestrians.    (A recent article describes this problem.)

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We headed up towards the Junction.   We briefly stopped at Inkerman St, where a single car parking place creates a pinch point in a merging zone.

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Going up the hill, we looked at how the St Kilda Rd separated bicycle lanes project can be fairly easily implemented as a Copenhagen lane on the edge of the road.   By contrast, the challenge of fitting protected lanes into the Junction are considerable.   However creating a safe way for people on bikes to get through this intersection will be crucial.

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We then headed down the bidirectional path on Fitzroy St.  This has been identified as one of the place where cyclists feel most unsafe in surveys by BikeSpot and VicRoads.   There is a protected lane for cyclists, but because drivers do not expect cyclists to be moving in a counterflow direction, they often fail to yield at intersections.   

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On the way we tried to use the council public bike pump outside Woolworths.  Unfortunately it deflated Councillor Bond's tyre!   Liz had a pump that we fixed the problem with.

A faulty bike pump.

A faulty bike pump.

Then on through the quiet back streets of West St Kilda to Middle Park shops, where we looked at the suboptimal crossing of Canterbury Rd at Armstrong St.   

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From Albert Park, we stopped at the intersection of Albert and Kerferd Rd.   The crossing here is yet another that doesn't allow sufficient time for pedestrians to cross.   There is some new marking for bicycles at this intersection, but the stretch under the tramway (travelling north) is still feels difficult for cyclist.  We looked at the option of converting the pedestrian underpass (just up Ferrars St) to a shared path, giving access to the service road on the north side of Albert Rd.

Looking out of the underpass.

Looking out of the underpass.

Council is planning to put separated cycle lanes on Kerferd Rd, after a trial in which they reduce the number of lanes to one.   

Kerferd Rd is very wide!

Kerferd Rd is very wide!

Our last stop was another parking place, outside Donovans on Marine Parade.   This parking place/loading zone forces on-road cyclists to merge with traffic, while creating a little door zone.   We note that as this is an accessible parking place (for people with a disabled permit) it may be of high utility and should be relocated rather than removed.

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Thanks to our councillors and council officer Kathleen Kemp for coming along.  Many thanks to Simon for the photographs.

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.

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.