Bicycles and the City of Melbourne’s 2030 Transport Strategy

The City of Melbourne Council has unanimously approved it's 10 year Transport Strategy which establishes a long-term vision for the all city commuters. 

Bicycle Network supports the transport strategy for its bold vision for bicycles, and all other transport modes.

With the state government being seemingly ambivalent about the role of bicycles in reducing congestion, it’s great to see the City of Melbourne be forward thinking and courageous in their transport strategy.

The strategy is set to make some bold targets, such as a reduction of 20 per cent of trips to the city completed by car, and a massive increase in the amount of protected bicycle lanes.

Here is what the transport strategy means for bicycles

Up to 90kms of new bike lanes to be created

The City of Melbourne (The City) knows that to create an environment for people to ride in, there needs to be safe place for people to ride.

The City has identified that most riders identify themselves as 'cautious' and  would travel by bike if the bicycle routes in the city were separated, and missing links completed.

Thousands of more people would ride to our city with more separated infrastructure. 

As part of the Strategy, The City will deliver 50kms of connected, physically protected bike lanes.

The first of these will be high priority routes within the Victorian Governments Strategic Cycling Corridors Strategy, such as the completion of St Kilda Road. 

The city also plans to work with the state government to deliver a further 40km of protected bicycle lanes.

The proposed map indicates new and much-needed separated bicycle lanes on keys routes like Exhibition Street, Elizabeth Street and Royal Parade. 

Working with the Victorian Government to lower speed limits in the city to 40km/h

Lowering speed limits is one of Bicycle Network’s core campaigns to reduce fatalities and injuries to riders. It is the cheapest, and easiest way to reduce pedestrian and bike rider fatalities.

When the speed limits were dropped to 40km/h in the Hoddle Grid in 2012, vehicle and pedestrian collisions declined approximately 37%.

The Transport Strategy indicates that these lower speeds should be extended to Canning and Drummond Streets, and a section of Lygon Street.

The city opted not to push for the 30km/h limit in the Hoddle Grid, instead opting for more consistent speed limits across the council.

We know that lowering the driving speed to 30km/h halves the likelihood of a pedestrian fatalities compared to 50km/h. We also know that these lower speeds have been implemented successfully in the City of Yarra

While Bicycle Network is disappointed to see this not make the final strategy, we are confident that the trial of 30km/h limit in the “little streets’ (Little Collins, Little Bourke, Little Lonsdale, Little La Trobe) will indicate the merit of having lower speeds in a liveable city, and that it will be rolled out on a wider scale.

Developing 'little' streets into "people-priority shared zones with lower speed limits"

Alongside having the speed limit dropped to 30 km/h, these ‘little’ streets will become people-priority zones by closing the areas off from cars at different times of the day to give pedestrian priority.

These liveable streets are designed to have the space reclaimed by pedestrians rather than motor vehicles.

Fast moving and through-traffic are not suitable for these ‘little’ streets and making these zones pedestrian-priority zones requires that vehicles give way to pedestrians.

While there is some confusion about shared zones in terms over who has right of way, the city plans to redefine them in a legal and practical sense as pedestrian priority zones.

Trial a protected intersection for bike riders in the city and install more if it is a success

People who ride bikes tend to feel more vulnerable at intersections, as they are often more open and other vehicles often turn across the space given to riders.

The transport strategy will deliver safer intersections for bike riders, by adopting design which continue the bicycle through the intersection and provide physical protection.

The plans also mention strategies such as advanced starts for bicycles, or bicycle signal phases, such as the green wave on Albert Street

The City plans to run trails which will be undertaken with the community and key stakeholders to inform future intersection design.

Support a review of the road rules to support safe and efficient cycling

The transport strategy supports a review of road rules that could be unnecessary for riders.

Bicycles are subject to the same road rules as vehicles, but travel slower, have a greater field of view and take up less space on the roads.

Some of the proposed rule changes include turning left on red or reviewing if cars should be able to drive in the bicycle lane 50m before an intersection. 

Less cars, more pedestrians and bicycles

The strategy also notes that approximately 43 per cent of the traffic in the city comes from through traffic, that is motorists driving through the city. The strategy still notes that car access to the city is required but the volume of through traffic must be reduced.

To reduce this strategies include: 

  • Traffic calming measures to reduce rat running which minimise local traffic, meaning quieter, safer streets. 
  • Moving drivers to other modes by creating safer places for people to ride, more cross-city rail lines, and orbital public transport.
  • Moving drivers to bypass routes such as Citylink or Wurundjeri Way

While the strategy has received some negative press for being "anti-car" Bicycle Network argues that the strategy simply equates of funding and priority of all modes shares, reducing the dominance that the car has had on the city for the last 100 years. 

Further elements of the strategy which aim to boost other modes include

  • Increasing the use of car share programs
  • Reviewing off-street parking policies 
  • Focusing land development around public transport
  • Increasing the congestion levy 

More space is to be given to pedestrians with wider footpaths, and to make walking in the city more attractive, The City plans to increasing light times for pedestrians, and remove many footpath obstacles that are currently in the CBD. 

These obstacles include bicycles and motorbikes, which the strategy plans to create new areas for individuals to park these space efficient vehicles. 

A positive step forward for a liveable city 

Many of the listed policies require funding, so Bicycle Network looks forward to seeing the Council's Budget to ensure that it has the funding to support the policies.

Furthermore, many of the policies, such as the extra 40 kilometres of bike lanes and plans require buy-in or work with the state government.

Bicycle Network looks forward to working with both levels of government to ensure that this bold transport plan comes to fruition. 

Bicycle Network commends the work of the council in putting this together. A progressive, inclusive transport strategy is the way to make Melbourne a liveable city, now and for the years to come. 

If you’d like to read the strategy in full click here