st kilda road separated bike lanes
St Kilda Road is one of the busiest bike routes in Melbourne, and the most direct route into the CBD from the south-east. It is also a hot spot for collisions with car doors.
This makes it an obvious place to put in protected bike lanes. This is supported by the City of Port Phillip, the RACV, the Bicycle Network, and others.
In 2014, the City of Port Phillip released a proposal for separated lanes from Linlithgow Avenue, Southbank to Carlisle Street, St Kilda. The scheme was evaluated by transport consultants GHD to cost $12 million dollars, with a net positive benefit cost ratio.
In August 2015, the Andrews government announced $305,000 to be spent by VicRoads on a study of the feasibility of separated lanes, due to report back by the end of 2015.
A year went by.
In the meantime, a collaboration between Crowdspot and community bike advocates The Squeaky Wheel and funded by the TAC asked bicycle users to use an interactive map to mark places in Melbourne that they felt unsafe cycling on. Unsurprisingly, the results showed that St Kilda Road had two of the top 10 perceived unsafe places.
This project documented the difficulties riders along St Kilda Road encountered. The comments had two main themes: the risk of crashes caused by open car doors: "Woah! Almost car-doored!"...." dangerous with the risk of doorings and cars, particularly taxis, suddenly pulling across the bike lane unsafely"; and also the particularly dangerous intersections: "Fear of cars rushing the intersection, not noticing bike".... "Cars etc. have to cross the dedicated cycling lane. I’ve been run into by a van at this point."
In late August 2016, VicRoads came up with... a consultation process that involved road users putting dots on an interactive map and writing comments about how they felt about their experiences. Duplicating work that had already ably been done by the BikeSpot project, and certainly not "investigating how the operation of the road network, including cars and trams, will be affected if service lanes were modified to accommodate protected bicycle lanes."
In April 2017 we became aware that VicRoads had put together a proposal for separated lanes located directly alongside the tram lines, in the centre of the road. This hasn't been released to the community yet.
- Progress on this project has been slow to non-existent. Announced dates for consultations, business cases and finished proposals have been repeatedly not met.
- The Melbourne Metro project, which will create havoc in the Domain for several years, has been used as an excuse for lack of progress. This seems like a poor excuse. This doesn't stop us getting the lanes in other areas. Furthermore, we should be planning the area around the Domain now, so all the new infrastructure in this area works together.
- Our preferred option is a curbside, protected lane.
- We have concerns about the proposed lanes in the centre of the road. St Kilda Road is not only a transport corridor, it is a destination itself, with major residential and employment locations along its length. It is not clear whether bike riders with mid-block destinations will be expected to complete their journeys either using the footpath (very undesirable, given the impact on pedestrians) or cycle unprotected along the curb (or worse, a curb side parking lane).
A centre of the road cycle path is not in the expected and intuitive position, which may to a significant number of cyclists choosing to cycle on-road as before. This is the experience in other non-curbside protected lanes (North Road median lane, Fitzroy St bi-directional lane). This is a poor outcome for both the safety of those cyclists, and for people driving, who will no longer benefit from 100% separation from cyclists.
Putting the bike lane between the extremely busy tram route (one tram per minute!) and the central line of cars seems like an unpleasant cycling experience. Where do cyclists pull over if they need to stop?
bug advocacy history
In 2016 we participated in community consultations
- In March 2017, concerned about the lack of progress on the project, we met with VicRoads. Outcome: to be seen.
- In July 2017 we met with local MP Martin Foley to express our concern about lack of progress on the project. Mr. Foley suggested that a practical way forward was to begin building the uncontroversial southern section between Carlisle St and the junction, where curbside Copenhagen lanes are proposed. Outcome: nothing so far.
- In November 2017 we wrote to Minister for Roads, Luke Donnellan, about the lack of progress on this project.
- In December 2017 we made a submission regarding the draft plans for the Domain Precinct, part of the Metro Tunnel project. In short: while there has been no public consultation on the preferred route for the bike lanes, the approach taken by the designers (which is supposed to allow for either Copenhagen or central lanes) is appropriate.