Elizabeth Street team looks to separation

The Hobart City Council is set to consider its first on-road separated cycleway in a community proposal to install an uphill separated lane on Elizabeth Street between Melville and Warwick streets.

The proposal has been put together by the Project Action Team of local residents, students, business owners and other users of the area that was formed as part of the City of Hobart’s Elizabeth Street Retail Precinct upgrade.

The Project Action Team determines which streetscape improvement ideas it wants to pursue and puts them to the council for approval, within the available budget.

Its recommendations were put to the council’s Infrastructure Committee on Wednesday 19 June, and will now go to the next full council meeting.

If the full council approves the action team’s proposal then detailed plans will be drawn up for broader public consultation, with a separated uphill bike lane featuring.

The majority of councillors signed on to Bicycle Network's Top 5 pledge during the last election campaign, which included support for separated cycling facilities: Anna Reynolds, Bill Harvey, Mike Dutta, Holly Ewin, Jeff Briscoe, Peter Sexton and Helen Burnet.

Damon Thomas and Zelinda Sherlock didn't sign the Top 5 but released a policy supporting our plans for separated cycle paths in the city. Likewise, Tanya Denison didn't sign on but sent a letter of support for bicycle routes that put cyclists out of harm's way.

The Elizabeth Street action team is the third to put recommendations to the council, following on from teams in Lenah Valley and New Town, which had their proposals approved by council.

The action team’s recommendations include:

  • Ensure all current and new crossings are disability compliant and safe.
  • Create mid-block pedestrian crossings for each block.
  • Each crossing to have a creative element/different themes.
  • Reduce the amount of on street car parking spaces and review time limits, whilst maintaining integral car park accessibility for people with a disability, and maintaining loading space.
  • Encourage Metro and the State Government to implement electric buses
  • Reduce the speed limit to 30 km/h.
  • Provide protected and separated uphill (northerly direction) cycle lane.
  • Provide bicycle parking facilities.
  • Provide advance stop line (bike boxes) for bicycles at approaches to all intersection areas, spanning both lanes of traffic.
  • Provide level and directional footpath surfaces which consider the ease of movement for residents, business owners and visitors of all ages and abilities and parents with prams.
  • Provide attractive and consistent illumination of the footpaths throughout the street that is safe and pedestrian-friendly. Include feature and ambient lighting e.g. in seats, art, planters and bollards. Improve lighting under awnings and ensure lighting is in keeping with the character of the street. Integrate creative and innovative smart lighting into the design fabric that provides the responsive lighting solutions.
  • To create a consistent language for wayfinding and signage that incorporates innovative forms of physical and digital experiences to assist residents, business owners and visitors.
  • Include diverse vegetation in streetscape planting. A variety of colours, textures, scents and food plants. Include native vegetation.
  • Create visually attractive public open space within the existing street, for example: parklets; public lane ways (e.g. wall art); pop-up spaces for visual arts, trade and community information; sitting nodes; green spaces; play spaces.
  • Provide covered, all-weather bus stops that are visually appealing and functional.
  • Have functional furniture that is artistic and aesthetically pleasing; ergonomically-sound seating; near green spaces for shade and comfort; in areas of high pedestrian use (e.g. mid-block crossings); include water fountains for filling bottles and also welcoming dogs; include bike parking and a compressed air bike pump; include dog parking; use a variety of designs and styles – make it Tasmanian.
  • Engage with private landowners / developers regarding integrating their land/spaces into the streetscape and to enhance its character. For example: art, laneways, gardens/planting, remove fencing.
  • Design a big and bold place-marker installation for Midtown with line of sight from the city, incorporating greenery, using local artists and lighting that is future proofed and stylistically consistent with other Midtown elements.
  • Utilise existing spaces that are currently ‘boring’ to create new opportunities for the display of cultural indigenous artworks in the public space – both permanent and temporary – by local artists.
  • Create a space that is flexible and amenable to support a range of activations on the street including festivals, events, pop up spaces for public art (physical and digital), food and beverage, cultural installations or entertainment. This can be a permanent space or temporary space achieved by closing the street.
  • To maintain the heritage character of the streetscape.
  • To ensure private developers contribute to the unique identity of the street.
  • Create space for outdoor dining, food trading, selling and consumption activities.
  • Create opportunities for dedicated areas along the street that promote playful engaging activities and opportunities for creative and musical arts for all ages.

How would the lane work along the street?

A few strategies and reports have identified Elizabeth Street as an active transport corridor:

  • Gehl report on Hobart identified the street as a potential walking and cycling street with only slow-moving traffic
  • Infrastructure Tasmania Hobart Transport Vision removes private motor vehicles from the street to transform it into a cycling–walking–public transport corridor (featured image).
  • RACT Hobart Mobility Vision also removes private vehicles from the street and includes bi-directional separated cycleways
  • Tasmania Bicycle Council's Hobart CBD Cycleways plan has an uphill protected bike lane on Elizabeth Street between Liverpool and Burnet streets.

While the streetscape improvement project only covers the blocks between Melville and Warwick streets, the council could decide to extend the lane over other adjoining blocks in time.

If the Infrastructure Tasmania and RACT visions got up and cars were removed from Elizabeth Street, then the separated cycleways would still be useful to separate riders from buses.

For Elizabeth Street to be an effective cycling corridor, the council would need to remove the bylaw that stops people being able to ride through the mall. Riders currently must dismount rather than just being asked to slow down through the mall during daytime hours.