Infrastructure Victoria congestion
New plan to tackle congestion with bikes

Infrastructure Victoria has devised a new approach to tackle Melbourne’s congestion that includes expanding bike facilities in targeted suburbs.

The move is one of a number of initiatives that aim to better manage the demand for transport over the next five years by getting people to change modes, or time of travel, and by better use of existing infrastructure and selected investment in new infrastructure.

Research has found that there are areas of Melbourne with significant numbers of people who would consider changing their travel mode to a bike.

These areas overlap with routes that are heavily congested already, and have no further capacity for private vehicle use, and could be subject to the expansion of the car parking levy.

The selected routes are:

  • Trips to inner Melbourne and Parkville from Richmond
  • Trips to inner Melbourne and Parkville from Brunswick, Brunswick East and Brunswick West through Carlton
  • Trips to inner Melbourne and Parkville from South Yarra, Prahran, Windsor and Toorak
  • Trips to the Monash National Employment and Innovation Cluster from Clayton, Springvale, Oakleigh and Huntingdale
  • Trips to the La Trobe National Employment and Innovation Cluster from Preston, Reservoir and Heidelberg West

The paper says that international evidence shows that measures to support active transport can reduce demand for car use and public transport in key corridors at peak times.

“Active transport is also efficient – high-quality cycling infrastructure can accommodate 4,600 cyclists per hour compared to 1,900 cars,” the paper says.

“Active transport has strong potential to assist with managing transport demand as Melbourne grows, diverting people off roads and public transport and providing active transport users important benefits, including improved health."

The study used a new tool called the Melbourne Activity-Based Model to understand and forecast how people will travel in the future. Travel models that have been used to date have led governments to invest in transport projects that have increased traffic and congestion, the opposite of what was promised.

The model, based on work by Transport for London, shows that more than 204,000 trips on an average weekday in 2015 taken by car or public transport had the potential to have been walked or cycled into or back from inner Melbourne, and the seven employment clusters, in the morning and afternoon peak periods.

Inner Melbourne was the destination with the largest potential for additional active transport trips (87,900), followed by the Monash NEIC (43,400) and La Trobe NEIC (22,600).

Infrastructure Victoria (IV) also undertook community research into the impacts of road congestion on drivers, finding that reliable journey times were just as important as total travel time, and that people would change travel modes if the incentives were properly aligned.

Currently people have a strong incentive to drive because parking is free or subsidised. This means many people are using the highly inefficient private vehicle to commute—causing congestion—simply because car parking is under-priced or not priced at all.

Because artificially low parking prices are a strong factor in why people drive, IV recognises that parking pricing can be a useful demand management tool, discouraging people from driving in the congested inner suburbs.

It has recommended that the car parking levy, which has successfully reduced car parking demand in central Melbourne, be expanded to include Richmond, South Yarra, Windsor and Prahran to address travel time and reliability issues in these areas.

It also recommends that the government establish revenue sharing arrangements with each of the local councils covered by the levy to support the development of active transport alternatives in these areas of high demand.

You can read the full report here.