Climate Push for bike lane trial on Sydney Road Brunswick

August 16, 2019 at 12:42 pm 1 comment

Sydney Road Option 3 bicycle lanes (Source: VicRoads)

Moreland Council will be submitting a submission to the Department of Transport for a 6 month separated bike lane trial on Sydney Road between Glenlyon Road and Brunswick Road. An important reason driving this is the need to ramp up the use of sustainable transport on Sydney road to address transport emissions, to encourage mode shift away from car use to public transport and active transport in the City of Moreland.

At the August Moreland Council meeting Council debated proposals for the VicRoads Sydney Road Improvement project and the officer recommendation for a submission to the Department of Transport advocating Option 3 with separated bike paths and increased space for pedestrians.

An article in The Age detailed the VicRoads proposals and ran a poll to assess which one readers preferred: of 4547 votes, 57 per cent preferred the VicRoads option 3 for separated bike lanes.

This was a passionate debate by Councillors both for and opposing the officer recommendation resolution which proposed in-principle support for Option 3 from the June/July 2019 Department of Transport consultation.

A trial is needed to assess impacts of physically separated bicycle lanes including: creation of Enhanced placemaking with parklets and extra footpath dining and trading opportunities; Removal of on-street car parking; Relocation of loading and drop-off/pick-up points to side streets; Additional disabled parking in adjacent side streets; Measures for supporting local businesses during this period; Increases in bicycle traffic on Sydney Road; Consultation with the traders impacted by the trial between Brunswick and Glenlyon Roads; impact on traffic on surrounding local roads and Melville and Lygon street.

Sydney Road needs to change due to several factors, including redesign to accomodate disability friendly tram superstops, ensuring the safety of increased cyclists who use the road to visit businesses along it’s length, and the need for behaviour change and mode shift of people to drive less and use sustainable transport, the need to create the shopping strip as a vibrant space pleasant for pedestrians and cyclists and people to visit and transact there business there.

Moreland Council conducted it’s own survey of visitors to Sydney road to assess how people travelled there, the perceptions by traders of how people arrived, and how much money people spent on their visit along with other comments. Read the report (PDF 4.8MB)

Perceptions versus reality odf people visiting Sydney Road

Greens MP for Brunswick Tim Read also conducted a survey in early 2019 of nearly 900 cyclists that use the Upfield Corridor, both the Upfield bike path and Sydney Road. Key findings from the report included:

  • More than 4 out of 5 cyclists surveyed feel “unsafe or very unsafe” on Sydney Road.
  • More than 3 out of 5 cyclists had been abused by a driver or pedestrian on Sydney Road.
  • 2 out of 5 cyclists had seen or experienced a car dooring on Sydney Road.
  • 1 in 5 surveyed had witnessed a rider being hit by a car.
  • Nearly all riders surveyed (83% of females, 80% of males) said they would ride more often on Sydney Road if it had protected bike lanes.

Addressing the elephant in the room: Climate Emergency

Towards the end of the debate the mayor suggested two small amendments, which were incorporated with the agreement of the mover and seconder. In an unusual practice, The Mayor addressed a question to a regular member of the gallery: John Englart, the Convenor of Climate Action Moreland, and asked “can you tell me how many council or government groups have now declared a climate emergency?”

“I think it is over 1000, globally” was John’s response.

The Mayor then articulated the reason we need to redesign Sydney Road, naming the climate crisis we are in, that we need to take action commensurate with this being a climate emergency. A climate emergency that Moreland Council unanimously declared in September 2018.

Mayor Cr Abboud invokes climate emergency as the reason dto improve sustainable transport and trial cycling lanes on Sydney Road

“For me there is an elephant in this room.” said Mayor, Cr Natalie Abboud.

“There is the fact that this Council has done a couple of things, which is what has got us to this position.

“The first thing that we did is we developed a Council Plan at the start of the four year term, and one of the priorities of the council plan was to create mode shift in the city. That means people out of cars. What we know is that 9,000 people drive up and 8,000 people drive down, probably one to a car. If you put those people in any other mode of transport out of a car, it is a more efficient way to travel. The emissions are lower, they move better down the corridor, it’s easier….I pass cars on a bicycle.

“Now it is very Important that we acknowledge that not everyone is going to get out of a car. This is not what this is about, but there are people like me who can get out of a car. If we make cycling easier by removing car parks, more people will ride. I am quite sure of that. It’s cheaper, there are a billion different reasons why it’s better.

“The other thing this council did, unanimously, is to declare a climate emergency.

“The Council has recognised that we are in a climate emergency, and we are trying to pretend we are in some kind of bubble where we can just go on with business as usual.

“The businesses that are tanking, and my own business that is down from time to time. But that is happening because people are saying: ‘You know what? Maybe I don’t need to consume things like this anymore. Maybe I need to buy things differently, maybe I need to buy things that are second hand, maybe I don’t need to spend $70k on a wedding, maybe I should try to think about being more sustainable.’

“This is a very important part of the policies and principles that I was elected on. There are people in this room who used to say things like we need more sustainable transport on Sydney Road who seem to have changed their mind over cars, which is something I don’t understand.

“So while I understand the concerns of the community and of the traders, I think the traders need support anyway, because the street is tanking, there are heaps of empty shops on the street.

“If we go on business as usual, what’s to say you don’t go broke, or I don’t go broke? We need a different solution.

“This looked at creating place, extending footpaths, making places for people to sit, better access for people, not one to a car to get on to the street, to do their business and then go somewhere else.

“I have no qualms about supporting this officer recommendation, which is just for a 6 month trial. Its had amendments combined into it that cover some of the detail of what we need to know from the trial and whom we need to protect. I hope Cr Kavanagh and other Councillors will support the amended motion.”

The Mayor’s comments need to be listened to, and taken account of in improving sustainable transport on Sydney Road as part of the transformations by Moreland Council including on Cooling the Upfield Corridor (see our submission), and setting a zero community emissions by 2040 target.

It was a tied vote for the amended substantive motion. The Mayor used her casting vote to pass the motion.

Cycling Detour proposed for Sydney Road due to Level Crossing Removal in Coburg

While the separated bike lane trial in Brunswick was the focus of the debate, the motion also contained advocacy for temporary separated bike path for use as a detour when the Upfield Bike path is closed for several months due to the level crossing removal. This may entail creating a safe dedicated lane on Sydney Road from Bell street to Moreland Road to ensure the safety of cyclists during the disruption due to the level crossing removal. Drivers and traders need to realise that this is a necessary temporary disruption due to the closure of an important arterial cycling route.

The motion further stipulated that the Brunswick trial and the Level Crossing Removal Project detour route should not commence at the same time.

So the final result of the motion is that Moreland Council will make a submission to the Department of Transport in favour of a limited trial of the Option 3 that Vicroads proposed: “Raised tram stops with continuous protected bicycle lane, extended widened footpaths and removal of parking in sections with protected bicycle lane.”

Negotiations with the State Government and Department of Transport on transforming Sydney Road are only starting. These changes need to be undertaken to reduce transport emissions and create a more liveable, sustainable shopping environment.

Entry filed under: Climate Emergency, cycling, Moreland Council, public transport, transport. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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