Submission: Keep building Protected bike lanes in City of Melbourne

June 5, 2022 at 5:28 pm Leave a comment

William street Protected bike lane (2021) Photo by Philip Mallis/Flickr, Creative Commons licensed.

City of Melbourne Future Melbourne committee will be considering a proposal to defer new protected bike lanes construction in the Hoddle grid for the next financial year at its meeting on 7 June 2022. Many Moreland residents cycle into the city and use the present cycling infrastructure, and to grow the numbers of people cycling now is not the time to stop building safe protected cycling infrastructure in the Melbourne CBD. The Climate Action Moreland submission is below.

Recent published peer review study focused on Melbourne by Pearson et al (2022) concluded: “Our results show the potential for substantial increases in cycling participation, but only when high-quality cycling infrastructure is provided.”(1) The recent IPCC 6th assessment report also highlights the importance of prioritising cycling and walking as part of urban solutions to reduce emissions and act on climate. See the Extend the Upfield Bike Path blog post.(2)

Update: in an email to those who made submissions, Cr Rohn Lepport explains that the deferral was needed as there are no major new protected bike lanes shovel ready within the Hoddle Grid, hence the prioritisation of Arden St, Macaulay Rd, Grattan St and Royal Pde lanes, while working on design and approval of further protected bike lane infrastructure in future years. The politics and process is little messy but a way forward was found by City of Melbourne. Read the full email at the end of this article.

Submission on Meeting No. 35, Agenda Item 6.9 Implementation Update: City of Melbourne Transport Strategy 2030 and Transport Program to Aid City Recovery and Reactivation

We would like to thank the City of Melbourne Future Melbourne Committee for the opportunity to make a submission on behalf of Climate Action Moreland for the many citizens of Moreland who cycle into the City of Melbourne CBD on a regular basis.

We would first like to acknowledge the substantial work that has been done by the City of Melbourne, particularly in the last two years, in accelerating cycling and active transport infrastructure in the Hoddle grid. Many Moreland citizens really appreciate the new protected cycle lanes that have made cycling around and through the city a much safer and more pleasant experience.

We also appreciate the City of Melbourne has done this work as part of addressing the climate emergency during the pandemic when the CBD had low numbers of workers and visitors.

Albert street Protected bike lane (2019)

Comments on specific points in Report to the Future Melbourne Committee Agenda item 6.9

Point 11, that “engagement with businesses included concern about the attractiveness of public transport and the cost of travel. Traffic congestion and the impact of new protected bike lanes were not identified as significant concerns for the businesses interviewed. In contrast, social and print media have criticised bike lanes as the key reason for traffic congestion in the CBD. The data does not support the claim that removing bike lanes would reduce congestion.”

We understand Council is under pressure to remove some protected cycling infrastructure by certain business lobbies, a campaign waged by sections of the media, and some trade union quarters. The stance of the Transport Workers Union appears to be particularly contradictory as they represent both motor vehicle delivery drivers and cycle delivery couriers. Protected cycle infrastructure assists in improving safety conditions for cycle couriers as well as other cyclists. The TWU speak of safety for their drivers, but what about the safety of the thousands of cyclists that cycle around Melbourne CBD? This should be of far greater consideration.

It is clear that other cities have successfully resolved vehicle deliveries and loading zones when there are protected cycling lanes. Solutions should be looked for from cities that are already far in advance of Melbourne. We trust the City of Melbourne Transport engineers can liaise with other cities to determine best practice solutions.

22.6. Endorses the deferral of further installation of new protected bike lanes in the Hoddle Grid during financial year 2022/2023, following two years of accelerated delivery.

We are against deferral of further installation of new protected bike lanes. As the Council is well aware, we are in a climate emergency and we really need to act quickly on climate solutions such as boosting behaviour change for transport mode shift to active transport.

We have attached a blog post from the Extend the Upfield Bike Path campaign (Attachment 1, see note 2) which details in 23 slides the importance of cycling as a climate solution for urban areas as detailed by Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte, the IPCC co-chair of Working Group I. This information details the importance of acting as fast as possible for improving active transport, particularly cycling, for urban areas as part of the solution to climate change. We think much of this applies to Melbourne.

There is also a very recently published peer review study focussed on Melbourne by Pearson et al (2022) that concluded: “Our results show the potential for substantial increases in cycling participation, but only when high-quality cycling infrastructure is provided.

The more protective cycling infrastructure that you install will increase the number of people motivated into coming into the city and around the city by bicycle and other forms of micro-mobility.

Protected bike lanes are also important for e-scooters to use, otherwise users of this transport mode are likely to use footpath space which will increase perceived risk and conflict with pedestrians. We note the report highlights successful e-scooter use since February 2022.

For these reasons we think the Committee should reject recommendation 22.6 deferral of new protected bike lanes.

22.7. Endorses prioritised delivery of protected bike lanes outside the Hoddle Grid to high value routes including Arden Street, Macaulay Road and Royal Parade during financial year 2022/2023.

We appreciate that high cycling routes into the Hoddle grid need improvement with Protected bike lanes. For many Moreland residents, Royal Parade is a particularly important route to improve. 

We support recommendation 22.7 for prioritised delivery of protected bike lanes on high value routes into the Hoddle Grid and CBD.

22.8. Note the above endorsements will still allow the continued delivery of protected bike lanes per the Transport Strategy 2030 and accelerated commitments made in response to both the Climate and Biodiversity Emergency and COVID-19 pandemic.

We appreciate this affirmation of continued delivery of protected bike lanes as per the Transport Strategy 2030, but are unclear what this would mean if recommendation 22.6 is adopted.

John Englart
Convenor of and on behalf of Climate Action Moreland

About Climate Action Moreland 

Climate Action Moreland are just regular people from Brunswick, Coburg, Fawkner, Pascoe Vale and Glenroy – wanting action on climate change. We have been active as a local community group since 2007. We’re a non-profit group that is community based and not affiliated with any political party. We have monthly meetings to which any member of the community is welcome to attend. The group has a non-hierarchical structure, and decisions are reached democratically. 

We do climate advocacy work in our local municipality and at local government, state government, Federal government and International levels. Our Convenor has attended 4 UNFCCC climate conferences as an NGO observer.

We have had a focus on sustainable transport to reduce transport emissions since 2015.

Reference:


Update 8 June: Result of Future of Melbourne Meeting:

The following email was sent to those who put in submissions by Councillor Lepport. It explains that the deferral was needed as there are no major new protected bike lanes shovel ready within the Hoddle Grid, hence the prioritisation of Arden St, Macaulay Rd, Grattan St and Royal Pde lanes, while working on design and approval of further protected bike lane infrastructure in future years.

“Thank you for sharing your written submission on the future of the City’s bike lanes program with councillors.

“Tonight’s 4 ½ hour Council meeting was an extraordinary democratic exercise, and a big old political mess, but ultimately an important moment for the future of transport policy in Melbourne.

“I’ve counted 1,028 submissions in favour of continuing the bike rollout, and just 10 against. There were two hours of incredibly powerful speeches from Melbourne’s cycling community. Thank you for being part of this extraordinary moment.

“The conclusion of the night was something of an anti-climax, which I will attempt to explain.

“Council is on track to deliver more protected bike lanes in 2022-23 than in any year to date. We’re on track to deliver more than 10km in the space of one year, including the completion of Arden St, Macaulay Rd, Grattan St and Royal Pde.

“These projects are shovel ready, either approved by the Department of Transport or at the final stages of approval. Arden St and Macaulay Rd will start at the end of this month. It takes a long time (too long) to get detailed designs through the Department and approved.

“The truth of the matter is that there are no new bike lane projects for Hoddle Grid streets close to Department of Transport sign-off, so for 22/23 we will build the projects that are ready to go, outside the Grid. I have fought hard for every cent in the bike lanes budget, and every cent is still there.

“Everything fell apart last Thursday with the publication of a Council meeting report that included a recommendation for a ‘deferral’ of new bike lanes in the Hoddle Grid for a year. Perhaps this was an idea to sell the non-delivery of new bike lanes in the Hoddle Grid for one year as a positive, to placate some media commentators and business lobbyists; if so, it was too clever by half. The ‘deferral’ recommendation was completely unsupported by the actual data and analysis in the report.

“The Age headline (“No more new bike lanes for CBD after council cops complaints”) didn’t help, and outrage followed – as well as a record number of written submissions.

“The recommendation and media generated the perception that Council has a raft of Hoddle Grid projects ready to go and for political reasons Council should ‘defer’ them. That just isn’t the case; our shovel-ready projects are currently outside the Grid.

“I had two options: vote against the recommendation (which in my judgment would have been passed by a majority), or try to use the opportunity to rebuild a political consensus for how we will restart bike lanes in the Hoddle Grid. I chose the latter.

“To that end, Councillors negotiated a new motion. I have included it at the end of this email, warts and all. The Hoddle Grid pause is for a year, but I’ve made it clear that this is ‘only’ to be one year, restarting July 2023, and we will use 2022-23 to complete design, consultation and attain approval for new separated bicycle lanes on Flinders Street.

“As someone who has battled for new Hoddle Grid projects for my entire time on Council (I first secured majority support for Exhibition St in 2018), I know that these moments are difficult. That 10 out of 11 Councillors have now expressed public support for Flinders St and committed funds to complete design is significant. I fought to include Flinders Street in the negotiated motion because I know it’s a big ask, and because it should be built before Metro Tunnel works are concluded and Flinders Street is reopened to traffic in both directions.

“We also need to work towards a cascading program of design, approval and delivery, so that we meet our 2030 bicycle network targets, including (especially!) in the Hoddle Grid. There is still Elizabeth, Spring, Bourke, Spencer and Franklin to come, but we will only get there if there is a confident majority support on Council. It’s all achievable, but only if majority support holds.

“So that’s how Council ended up voting for a one year ‘deferral’ inside the Hoddle Grid that didn’t really have the effect of deferring anything. The upshot is renewed political consensus, the mobilisation of cyclists who won’t tolerate Council straying from its 2030 targets ever again, and a more realistic plan to build more bike lanes, including in the Hoddle Grid – starting with Flinders St.

“I should add that the ‘deferral’ of new lanes in the Hoddle Grid in 2022-23 does not refer to the conversion of pop-up lanes to permanent lanes. These will continue! In 2022-23 we will build the >$2m streetscape upgrade for the Theatres precinct on Exhibition Street, between Lt Bourke and Lonsdale, at long last.

“Council also unanimously agreed to my motion to ask officers to bring forward recommendations for how and when Council should stage delivery of the Elizabeth Street Opportunities Plan, including its new physically separated bicycle lanes on Elizabeth Street. The motion will ensure the completion of a Future Streets Framework for the Hoddle Grid (a key element of our Transport Strategy 2030), to articulate a clear vision and transparent plan for all of our streets, and also seeks to properly review the Little Streets Transformations program rolled out during COVID, to make sure we’ve got our 20km/h Little Streets shared zones right.

“All up, this has been an enormous night for Hoddle Grid policy work, and overall I think a positive one. The optics have been shocking, the messaging misleading, the politics a mess… but I hope this is progress.

“That’s a bit of how the sausage is made. Thank you for writing to councillors, and for pushing Council back towards a path of sensible, economy-boosting, life-saving transport policy.

“Please continue to keep councillors accountable. There will be more wobbles. You can track progress by signing up to City of Melbourne meeting agendas, and please keep providing feedback on City of Melbourne protected bike lanes – this builds the evidence base for future projects.

With thanks,

Rohan

That the Future Melbourne Committee:

1. Notes the update on implementation of the City of Melbourne Transport Program to Aid City Recovery and Reactivation (refer Attachment 3 of the report from management)

2. Notes the findings of the Urbis study; Contribution of Different Modes of Transport to City Recovery (refer Attachment 4 of the report from management)

3. Notes the design improvements recently completed or upcoming in response to community feedback (refer Attachment 5 of the report from management)

4. Notes the further proposed changes to Exhibition Street to smooth traffic flow and provide access to adjacent businesses and destinations (refer Attachment 6 of the report from management)

5. Notes the analysis of options to smooth traffic flow on Queens Bridge Street and management’s intention to continue to investigate the option of a bus lane (refer Attachment 7 of the report from management)

6. Endorses the deferral of further installation of new protected bike lanes in the Hoddle Grid during financial year 2022/2023 only, following two years of accelerated delivery, and that during this time design work will continue, including detailed design for Flinders Street.

7. Endorses prioritised delivery of protected bike lanes outside the Hoddle Grid to high value routes including Arden Street, Macaulay Road and Royal Parade during financial year 2022/2023, noting that Arden Street and Macaulay Road as 2021/22 projects will commence as soon as practicable.

8. Notes that the two previous paragraphs will not result in any reduction in proposed budget for 2022/23, being $4m on the Cycle Infrastructure program plus any funds carried forward from 2021/22.

98. Notes the above endorsements will still allow the continued delivery of protected bike lanes per the Transport Strategy 2030, other than the State Government arterial road upgrades which will not be delivered at the current rate and accelerated commitments made in response to both the Climate and Biodiversity Emergency and COVID-19 pandemic.

10. Reiterates the ongoing commitment to ensuring that there are adequate loading zones within the Hoddle Grid, and that the conversion of car parking bays to safe loading zones where there is a demonstrated need will continue.

11. Notes that the installation of barriers between tram lanes and vehicular lanes, e.g. on Collins Street, has likely succeeded in changing driver behaviour but has also had an impact on traffic flows for all transport modes, and in order to understand these changes requests that management work with the Department of Transport to study and report on the impacts, to better inform future transport planning decisions by both levels of government.

Rohan Leppert | Councillor

Environment Portfolio Lead
Heritage Portfolio Lead
Planning and Sustainable Building Portfolios Deputy Lead

Entry filed under: cycling, news, submission, transport. Tags: , , , .

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