Melbourne will get a massive—and fast—upgrade to bike facilities as 40km of bike routes is rushed into construction in response to the COVID-19 impact.
Lord Mayor Sally Capp announced the dramatic boost, following the Council's adoption of a budget crafted to transform the city and accelerate its recovery from the economic impact of the epidemic.
Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the City of Melbourne will deliver adaptable bike lanes that can be constructed and installed more quickly to provide more space for people riding bikes.
"Riding and walking have increased in popularity during the pandemic. As people return to the city they will want to travel in ways that allow them to maintain physical distance," the Lord Mayor said.
"I look forward to seeing lots of Melburnians enjoying our city on bikes – as I do – especially those who've taken up riding as a way to stay fit and healthy during the pandemic.
"We will fast-track the delivery of 40 kilometres of bike lanes to enable more people to cycle safely into the city. These will be built in two stages, with the first 20 kilometres delivered in 2020-21, through a $16 million investment.
The speed of the rollout is unprecedented, with planning and design already racing ahead.
There are multiple individual projects in the package, some of which will be done in six months rather than a typical four years.
The lanes will be upgraded in two stages, with the first 20 kilometres delivered in 2020-21 at a cost of $16 million.
The first priority roads to be upgraded will include:
- Exhibition Street stage one (Flinders Street to Bourke Street)
- Rathdowne Street (Victoria Street to Faraday Street)
- William Street (Dudley Street to Flinders Street)
- Abbotsford Street (Flemington Road to Queensberry Street)
- Swanston Street (around the University of Melbourne from Grattan Street to Cemetery Road).
Lord mayor Sally Capp said a key element of the council's approach was the desire to create bicycle lanes that people felt comfortable riding on.
"Our research shows that it's essential to create physical protection from motor vehicles to encourage more people to ride in the central city.
To achieve this fast, initial rollout, the city will utilise, adaptable, lightweight infrastructure that can be altered and upgraded in later stages.
For example, for separated, kerb-side bikes lanes the separator can be a combination of separator islands and painted chevrons that can be changed and repositioned cheaply and quickly depending on conditions.
Transport Portfolio Chair Councillor Frances Gilley said that the lanes would be installed as quickly as possible.
"We will use plastics, rubber and recycled materials that can be installed quickly so we can accelerate bike lane delivery. The infrastructure we install will be functional for years to come and can be progressively replaced with fixed lanes over time as required."
All of the changes have previously been outlined in the City’s 2030 transport strategy, which sets out a 10-year roadmap for Melbourne to become a premier cycling city, and have been subject to extensive consultation and scrutiny.
Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richards congratulated the City for the intensive efforts it has made to accelerate the rollout of these important projects in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
“The Lord Mayor and councillors have shown what can be achieved if you have a sense of urgency and the commitment to deliver benefits to the community.
“We hope that other councils and governments across Australia are inspired to keep this roll-out rolling so that people have options to get to work and education on a bike at a time when other options are limited."
Through our Pedalling to a better normal plan, Bicycle Network has been calling for all three levels of government to invest in and build pop up, adaptable bike lanes. Today's news is a welcome announcement and sets a strong example for councils and governments across Australia to follow.