Major upgrade for vital Richmond route

Elizabeth Street Richmond—the continuation of the major Albert Street east-west connection into Melbourne’s CBD—is set for a big upgrade.

The City of Yarra this week decided to proceed with a trial of protected bike lanes along the busy route between Hoddle Street and Church Street.

The trial will last a year and will test possible road configurations and treatments along the street, which varies in width and adjacent land uses.

If all goes well in terms of both engineering solutions and community support, the change will be made permanent as part of a re-sheet of the road tarmac, which is nearing end of life.

This will mean a protected route from Church Street to the CBD, as Albert Street already has protected lanes.

The upgrade would also be welcome by people who access the route from north of Victoria Street and use the Lennox Street-Nicholson Street connection.

Work is expected to start on the first stages of the trial around April-May. Work will take no more than a month.

The permanent treatment will require budget allocations in future years.

An illustration with potential changes to a section of Elizabeth Street in Richmond.

The report to council said that travel demand in Yarra is rising rapidly as a result of population growth and there is a pressing need to deliver transport projects that respond to this as efficiently and effectively as possible.

"Cycling has a high level of priority in City of Yarra policy documents with Elizabeth Street being an important local east/west road and also a key cycle route”, the report said.

"However, it currently provides a hostile and intimidating environment for cyclists due to narrow bike lanes that place cyclists between parked car doors and large volumes of moving traffic.

"There is a long standing commitment to delivering a protected bike lane facility on Elizabeth Street in the Bike Strategy Refresh 2016. In the 2019/2020 budget resolution, Council committed $400,000 for the delivery of protected bike lanes on Elizabeth Street in 2019/20.”

Yarra City also has plans for significant tree plantings in Elizabeth Street as part of its Urban Forrest Strategy, so the two projects could be coordinated.

"Delivering transport projects of significance that align with adopted policy is very challenging as it requires the reallocation of busy, highly contested street space which is a sensitive topic in the community,” the report says.

"The Wellington Street protected bike lane project cost $4.5m and took Council nearly ten years to deliver with 11 separate supporting reports tabled for decision makers as part of this process.

"Contention around possible impacts, and a general divergence of views on various aspects of the project, contributed to the significant amount of time it took to plan for the project before any works could be delivered.

"In response to the lessons learnt from Wellington Street, the broader challenges around project delivery and the constrained budget situation, officers propose that an ‘iterative trial’ approach is used to deliver protected bike lanes on Elizabeth Street."

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