The City of Melbourne has announced it will fast track 40 kilometres of adaptable bicycle lanes across the city in a bid to reduce road traffic as the city emerges from Covid-19 stay-at-home measures.
There is a concern that as people returning to the office avoid public transport, city traffic congestion will increase to levels before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
The planned 40 kilometres bike lanes will instead give Melbourne residents safe riding space to take to bicycles or scooters as a clean, people-powered alternative form of transport.
With around a quarter of the city’s residents living within a 10 kilometre radius of work, the choice to ride or walk to work instead of driving is an easy one to make for many.
“Riding and walking have increased in popularity during the pandemic. As people return to the city they will want to travel in ways that allow them to maintain physical distance,” said Melbourne lord mayor Sally Capp in a statement.
“I look forward to seeing lots of Melbournians enjoying our city on bikes – as I do – especially those who’ve taken up riding as a way to stay fit and healthy during the pandemic,” she said.
Capp says that the bike tracks will be implemented in two stages, with the first 20 kilometres delivered through a $16 million investment from now until 2021.
The first of these will include:
- Exhibition Street stage one (Flinders Street to Bourke Street)
- Rathdowne Street (Victoria Street to Faraday Street)
- William Street (Dudley Street to Flinders Street)
- Abbotsford Street (Flemington Road to Queensberry Street)
- Swanston Street (around the University of Melbourne from Grattan Street to Cemetery Road).
“By fast-tracking the delivery of bike lanes on key routes, we’re creating streets that people can feel confident riding along, which in turn will free up space on our roads, buses, trams and trains,” says Capp.
The decision to prioritise the above routes stems from research showing the need to protect people from motor vehicles particularly in the centre of the city.
“These priority routes will better connect suburbs like Carlton, East Melbourne, North Melbourne, Brunswick and West Melbourne to the central city,” says Capp.
“This will complement the work we’re already doing on bicycle routes to the south of the city such as Kavanagh Street, Alexandra Avenue, Linlithgow Avenue and Southbank Boulevard.”
The entire plan has been earmarked in the City of Melbourne’s Transport Strategy 2030, which outlines a range of measures to make Melbourne more sustainable and liveable, with a goal to earning it the title of cycling capital city of Australia.
“We’ve seen other leading cities around the world such as Paris, London and Milan successfully integrate cycling as a key mode of transport to reduce congestion and accommodate growth,” said Transport portfolio Chair Councillor Nicolas Frances Gilley in a statement.
“Our first project will be to install 3.5 kilometres of protected bike lanes along Rathdowne and Exhibition streets. This is one of the most important routes for cycling to the city from the north, but is currently unsafe with sections of the street having no protected bike lanes.
“As well as creating physically separated bike lanes on Rathdowne Street, we will upgrade intersections further north along Canning Street. The works will be completed in stages over the coming months.
“We will use plastics, rubber and recycled materials than can be installed quickly so we can accelerate bike lane delivery. The infrastructure we install will be functional for years to come and can be progressively replaced with fixed lanes over time as required.”
The city says it can achieve the plan with minimal impact on parking thanks to the 200,000 plus off street and municipal parking places in the City of Melbourne.
Overall, the City of Melbourne says it will spend $41 million on transport initiatives in 2020-21, including investing $6.9 million to renew roadways.
Bridie Schmidt specialises in writing about new technology and how it can help solve the problems of carbon emissions and climate change. With a degree in Communications from Macquarie University, and 20 years experience in front end web development, she has freelanced as a web and graphic designer since 2001. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. You can email Bridie at [email protected].