Hobart’s first separated cycleway plans released

The City of Hobart has released plans for its first stretches of on-road separated cycleways on Campbell and Argyle streets.  

The proposal was put to the Hobart City Council on 16 December 2019, with the recommendation that it be released for public feedback before final designs are put to the council for a decision.

There are no firm dates yet for when you will get your chance to comment on the plans or when the final designs will go to council for a decision.

The Hobart Principal Bicycle Network plan nominates Campbell and Argyle streets for bicycle infrastructure. Since that plan was developed, the council’s city visioning and transport strategy consultations have returned strong community feedback for improved cycling infrastructure.

On-road separated cycleways are needed in Hobart to get people from the edges of the city through to where they want to go to for work, education, shopping, services and recreation or to just pass through.

Campbell Street will also be an important link for university staff, students and visitors as it contains the new performing arts school and medical sciences precinct and links to the creative arts school, Domain campus and proposed Melville Street campus.

What’s being proposed?

The main thrust of the plan is to create separated cycleways on Campbell Street between Brisbane and Davey streets and connecting separated cycleways between Campbell and Argyle streets on Bathurst and Liverpool streets. On Argyle Street a mix of separated cycleways and painted lanes are proposed with separation only proposed between Brisbane and Bathurst streets and between Macquarie and Davey streets.

To avoid traffic disruption, the cycleway plans opt to affect car parking instead of traffic flow. Streets with separated cycleways will have car parking next to the cycleway in off-peak hours, but in peak hours the parking bays will convert to a traffic lane.

Because this is the first separated on-road cycleway in Hobart, the City has decided to install bollard barriers on a painted buffer to see how the set-up works out, rather than installing more expensive concrete barrier separation straight away.

The plans indicate three bollards close together at the start and end of each car parking bay. The City could consider on-ground “armadillo” style or other lane separators cycleway if the consultation shows would-be riders would like more separation from parking and moving motor vehicles.

What could be improved in the draft plans?

  • The Campbell and Liverpool streets intersection is problematic because of the turning lane into Liverpool Street.

    Instead of the cycleway continuing straight through the intersection, the plans propose the separated cycleway ends and that the space the rider is occupying on the road becomes a turning lane for traffic. This means riders must cross over the turning traffic lane to be positioned in the next traffic lane. This is similar to the treatment used in the existing painted lanes along Argyle and Campbell streets. This can be a scary move for less confident riders to make and may turn some off riding the route. 

    Another option is to install a physical turning buffer from cars. This means traffic has to slow down to turn and riders have to slow down as they will have to veer right then straighten to cross the intersection. Turning buffers are a treatment used effectively in Dutch cities and are being trialled soon in East Melbourne at the intersection of Lansdowne and Albert streets, as this video demonstrates.

    There is also the problem of bike riders having to look out for cars as they enter the slip lane alongside the hospital. It would be more comfortable for riders if the separated cycleway continued alongside the footpath, however, the council has decided to trial a shared space slip lane for 12 months.
  • The City is still considering what to do in Argyle Street in the block between Collins and Liverpool as the operation of the hospital and car park complicates design.

    It has also proposed trialling a painted peak-hour bike lane in the block between Macquarie and Collins streets and a painted lane only in Liverpool and Bathurst streets. Although it is suggesting a separated lane for the block between Davey and Macquarie streets.

    This large break in the separated cycleway is a problem for the success of the Argyle Street corridor as most tentative riders will avoid it because of the lack of separation and conflict with vehicles coming in and out of the car park.

    If the council is not willing to make the difficult decisions about Argyle Street then it begs the question of whether it’s the right street for a cycling corridor. It's why the Tasmanian Bicycle Network plan for the city centre created a bi-directional cycleway on Campbell Street to avoid Argyle. 
  • The exended “kerb bulbing” at intersections throughout Hobart means the cycleways will end at intersections and push riders out into traffic lane instead of continuing their line through an intersection.

    There is the potential to create ramps up onto the footpath to help less confident riders navigate intersections via the pedestrian crossings instead of pushing them out into traffic.

  • The plans try to keep the cycleway to the left of the roadway on the Liverpool and Bathurst street connections. The problem with doing this on Bathurst Street is that riders then can’t easily head south on Campbell Street or access the new bridge over Brooker Avenue.

  • The report to council estimates the monetary value of lost parking revenue if the plan goes ahead but doesn’t estimate a monetary value for the economic, environmental and health benefits of getting more people riding instead of driving.

    Removing on-street parking and building a separated cycleway is likely to get more people riding which could improve health outcomes, reduce carbon emissions, reduce air pollution, improve traffic flows, and improve safety outcomes for bike riders. If parking is to be valued then so too should the outcomes of more people riding.

These plans are a big step by the City of Hobart towards achieving its city vision and transport strategy and bike riders will need to come out in strong support for the concept if the cycleways are to go ahead.

When the time comes for public comment we will share more information with you, including contact details for the council's aldermen and councillors.