Give bikes more space, says new plan

Our roads should be deliberately redesigned to give more space to bikes, public transport and walking, Infrastructure Victoria has recommended.

Ambitious initiatives suggested include protecting cycleways, gradually installing tramway barriers, widening footpaths, or replacing parking with better bus and tram stops or ‘pocket parks’.

Infrastructure Victoria (IV) is the independent agency that prepares 30-year infrastructure plans for the state, and its recommendations carry considerable authority as they are free from political meddling. It has just updated the 30-year strategy to cover 2021-2051.

The agency says too many cars cause congestion. "Resolving this requires a more deliberate approach to designing and using roads, beyond simply funneling maximum traffic along them.

"Roads should instead prioritise space to better reflect their desired movement functions.

"Combining road and place management recognises that road space is valuable, finite and must be safely managed for all – not just vehicles," IV says.

IV has continued with its strong support for a prioritised rollout of bike infrastructure recommending that in the next 10 years the government prioritise and significantly progress developing a continuous network of high quality, safer cycling corridors in Melbourne, Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong, including separated cycle ways and more storage at train stations and activity centres.

And in the next five years, immediate priorities include connections within and between central Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, and connections to the Monash, La Trobe and Sunshine National Employment and Innovation Clusters.

"A network of high-quality cycling links, including separated cycle ways, are a prerequisite to building a safer, more connected and lower stress cycling culture,” IV says.

"Faster increases in cycling occur in cities that have:

  • Expanded and improved bike lanes and paths
  • Introduced traffic calming measures and bicycle storage
  • Improved integration with public transport
  • Implemented bike sharing, training programs, and promotional events.

"Low stress cycling networks have lower traffic speeds, more physical separation from other vehicles, car parking and other hazards, direct routes, and no gaps in the cycling network.

"Over the next five years, the Victorian Government should prioritise connections with high potential for cycling for trips from Richmond, Carlton, North Melbourne, and South Yarra to the central city, including allowing access through and around the Hoddle grid."

The report also recommends reducing inner Melbourne's congestion by further reforming parking pricing.

It says there is too much street parking, it is prices too cheaply, and is is taking up space that should be available to other modes such as bikes.

It suggests that in the next five years, the government consider extending the Melbourne Congestion Levy to on-street parking and supporting a trial of demand-responsive pricing for inner Melbourne on-street parking.

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