integrated transport strategy

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.

Paint is not protection--- Park St Link

City of Port Phillip has released the first designs for the Park St Link, Route 3 on the planned network of protected bike lanes in the Integrated Transport Strategy (ITS). These designs are part of the Domain Masterplan, now open for consultation, until 14th August 2019.

The Park St Link is a short section connecting St Kilda Road (with its future separated lanes) at Anzac station, and Moray St (Route 3 of the ITS, which has been built as separated lanes to the north, and only “buffered” lanes to the south).

Substantial changes are proposed here, with a new tram line down the street, as well as some street closures.

Context: Park St Link (marked 3) connects St Kilda Rd with Moray St. Full map  here.

Context: Park St Link (marked 3) connects St Kilda Rd with Moray St. Full map here.

The eastern section between St Kilda Road and King’s Way shows a completely separated lane, protected from vehicle movements by some kind of curb. The intersection with the minor cross-street, Wells Street, has been dealt with by building up the curbs at the entrance, indicating that the cycle lane and footpath are to have precedence.

St Kilda Road to King’s Way separated lanes

St Kilda Road to King’s Way separated lanes

However the western end of the route, from King’s Way to Heather St, is what the council calls “protected”— that is, it is a green-painted lane with car parking on the left, and vehicles to the right. The “protection” is supposed to be provided by a painted buffer on both sides. Paint will not protect people on bikes from vehicles intruding into the bike lanes. Moreover, a non-separated lane does not provide the high level of safety required to encourage vulnerable or risk-averse potential cyclists.

King’s Way to Moray Street— a non-separated lane.

King’s Way to Moray Street— a non-separated lane.

There is no apparent physical reason why such a mediocre treatment has been proposed here, rather than a Copenhagen style lane with car parking between the bike lane and the vehicle lane. There are very few driveways, with much of the section adjacent to parkland.

Based on the treatment of Moray St, the additional space requirements for a separated cycle lane are as little as 0.5m; however if required, the new tram lanes could be slightly off-set, allowing car parking on one side (as a Copenhagen lane) but not the other.

The closure of Eastern Road is commendable, with extra open space created. There is also a very short section of separated lane between Heather St and Moray St.

On the whole, this treatment fails to achieve its own stated outcome of “A safe, on-road separated bike lane to connect to other bike riding routes, including St Kilda Road, Moray Street and beyond“ (Draft Public Realm Masterplan, page 26).

It also fails to respond to the community, who said:

• Park Street to St Kilda Road is a critical connection for bike riders and needs to be closely considered.

• Big supporter of the separated bike path – following similar models like the ones used in the Netherlands.

• Separated bike path to help improve safety.

(Documented in the Domain Precinct Design Response Community Engagement Report.)

You can respond to the draft plans here—please copy your response to portphillipbug@gmail.com, so we can include your concerns when we meet with councillors. The Port Phillip BUG has also made a submission on behalf of our members.

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!

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).