You might not know this path exists, even if you are in the area, as there is no way-finding (signs) to point it out. It runs from the end of Harbour Esplanade, near the Webb Bridge, going towards the City, ending in the Flinders Street extension.
You might use it after coming south along Harbour Esplanade to get to Flinders St or you can cross Flinders St and reach the (relatively) new Seafarers Bridge across the river into the Melbourne Exhibition Centre and beyond.
This path was overgrown and hard to get by, so Melbourne BUG contacted the City of Melbourne and asked for the vegetation to be pruned. We didn’t hear back but recently noted that the offending vegetation has been suitably disciplined so it’s now easy to use this useful link.
Media: The Age
Date: 5th September 2013
Headline: More people are riding their bikes to work than last year
Journalist: Marnie Banger
The article is about a count done annually by Bicycle Victoria in Swanston St, for one hour in the morning. This year it showed an increase, as it did last year – compared to each preceding year and an increase in the proportion of women. The Age then asked for comments from Cycling Victoria and proceded to discuss sport cycling, with examples from sport cycling clubs of women who race.
As Pip Carroll from The Squeaky Wheel remarked when speaking at a recent Melbourne Writers Festival event, the cultural perception of cycling is that it is a sport, done with special equipment and special clothing.
But the intersection of Swanston and Bourke Streets isn't a good place for racing, and it's hardly the place to look for sport cyclists. It's a good place to see people getting around on bikes. Not racing, just getting about.
With the approval of the 2013-2014 budget, the City of Melbourne has proven to be a sprinter rather than the grand tour winner it aspires to be. Melbourne Bicycle User Group argues that this approach is inadequate to realise the goal of council's Bicycle Plan, namely to get Melbourne on the map as a real cycling city and promote cycling as a sustainable way of transportation.
Just two years ago, Melbourne was only the second city in the world to receive the "Bike city" qualification from the International Cycling Union UCI, after Copenhagen. The award recognised both the improvements made to cycling infrastructure as well as the long-term commitment to promote cycling as a sustainable means of transportation. A couple of days later, Cadel Evans became the first Australian to win the Tour de France. Adding to the general excitement about cycling in Melbourne, the City of Melbourne developed the Bicycle Plan, outlining ambitious infrastructure improvements over the period until 2016, with the goal that “In a cycling city, riders of all ages and abilities need to feel safe and comfortable”. In its Plan, the City aimed to get more people riding, by building infrastructure that felt safe for everyone, not just the young and fearless. Council was dreaming of victory in the grand tour that was about to take off, visualising world class infrastructure in LaTrobe St and on Princess Bridge, which would persuade current would-be cyclists to enjoy a regular ride to work, the shops or entertainment activities in the city.
Fast forward to last month’s council meeting. Was the euphoria in 2011 just a sugar high, or the result of using some fancy performance enhancing substance? Sure enough, the chevron-separated lanes in Clarendon St (East Melbourne) are a joy to ride, and the separated lanes on LaTrobe St are a great development that make riding there a vastly less hostile experience. Unfortunately, the good vibe didn’t seem to last. Despite being a great improvement, the LaTrobe St separated lanes disappear at every intersection – just where they are most needed – and the Princes Bridge lanes have been watered down to a one-way three-months trial lane. Planned lanes in Elizabeth St, north of Victoria St, have failed to materialise.
Judging from the approved budget and associated capital works, one can only conclude that the determination to make Melbourne truly globally competitive on the sustainable transport scale has faded. Like a procycling sponsor getting back on his feet after being confronted with a positive test of one of his riders, council is looking confused and risk averse with a budget that is less than half of last year’s.
The proposed $2.65M budget for cycling infrastructure will be insufficient to meet even the projects outlined in the Bicycle Plan unless there is a marked increase in future years. And future budget increases seem most unlikely in the current climate of reduced expenditure at all levels of government. The funds that have been allocated are not being wisely spent with this year's capital works either failing to address high priority issues or being inadequate solutions that will have little positive effect on increasing the cycling population.
The main infrastructure project proposed, William St, is a prime example of an opportunity gone to waste. Surely one could expect a top-of-the-line infrastructure upgrade for a road featuring on the Principal Bike Network and being marked as a Bike Priority Route? Apparently not; instead of physically separated lanes, a few buckets of green paint are supposed to shower that feeling of safety and security upon “riders of all ages and abilities”, as the council's bicycle plan so wonderfully puts it.
The especially sad part is that separated lanes in William St are both feasible and much less intrusive on car space than in other CBD roads, since it is too narrow for two full car lanes anyway. By putting on only green paint, council is falling short of the necessary effort to bring William St up to international best practice. Queensberry St has demonstrated how green paint (and rumble strips) will not keep cars out of the bicycle lane in busy streets with fast moving traffic including trucks like William St. In choosing the cheap and ineffective option, the City of Melbourne is acting like a sprinter who puts his hands in the air to cry victory 100 metres before the finish, only to be beaten on the line.
A second infrastructure project in the budget, the proposed treatment of Neill St (Carlton), is an example of useless spending. Council is proposing to spend $300K to install chevron-separated bike lanes in this quiet residential street, apparently in an attempt to provide a road-based link between the popular Canning St bike lane and others beyond the Carlton Gardens. Instead of riding along Canning St to Carlton St, cyclists are expected instead to embrace the Neill St-Rathdowne St route with 700 metres of painted lanes as their only protection from traffic moving at up to 60 kph and its non-existent protection for northbound access into Neill St. Our alternative for spending the $300K: upgrade the Carlton St / Grattan St intersection to facilitate safe crossing.
Concluding, this budget presents a big risk of City of Melbourne not achieving the goals of its transport strategy, and is sending a bad signal about its commitment to make Melbourne a true cycling city. Rather than making the flow of the 2011 award and Australian tour victory work for them and setting up a long term strategy to get to the top of the general classification of bike friendly cities, they have demonstrated a lack of stamina and endurance to achieve that ambitious goal.