south melbourne

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, 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.