Jun 182015

Update 18/6/2015

Between Russell and Exhibition the old trees have been removed and the kerb is being slightly altered.  We have seen the drawings and there will be no bike lane. This is despite Flinders Street being on the City of Melbourne’s long-term plan as a bicycle route.  Very long term plan, new trees and a new tram stop would be expected to last 40 years or more. No bicycle facilities.

Meanwhile about 8 months ago Council painted big “no cycling” signs on the southern footpath. So it’s illegal (always was) to ride on the footpath, and dangerous and uncomfortable to ride on the road.

We like trees

Original report – March 28/2012
The cars that park between these trees have semi-ringbarked them over the years, crashing into them while parking. Now they are due to be replaced, getting too old and decrepit. The trees run from Spring St to Russell St on the southern side of Flinders St, forming a uniform avenue. The City of Melbourne prefers to replace a whole avenue at one time, perhaps removing healthy trees, but to retain the uniformity, creating a more pleasing visual effect as the trees grow.

Now that the trees are due to be replaced, we have the opportunity to fix this part of Vicroad’s Principle Bike Network by installing some bike lanes.  The significance of this stretch is the connections that it makes.  Melbourne’s bike network suffers many disconnects where paths don’t link to paths and lanes don’t link to lanes.  This stretch connects existing lanes and paths including:

  • Spring St bike lanes
  • Wellington Parade shared path
  • Wellington Parade South bike lanes
  • Batman Avenue shared path (toll bridge)

A connection to St Kilda Rd and Swanston St is just one block further – more on how that connection will be possible when we launch our St Kilda Road Vision next week. With this connection, a safe through route would be created from the Yarra trail through to Docklands, via Swanston St and Latrobe St (new lanes are planned for Latrobe St within the next 12 months).

When the trees are replaced, the new trees can be planted in the footpath.  The car parking can be removed – it doesn’t include any vital functions like loading bays. Melbourne BUG proposes a two-way bike lane (similar to Fitzroy St St Kilda), with a 300mm kerb to keep the cars out.

Pedestrians will benefit, because at the moment the footpath here is a de facto shared path, as cyclists escape the hostile road environment.

Yarra Trams expects to install a platform stop somewhere in the block between Exhibition and Russell.  If this is installed mid-block it will make enough room at Russell St to give cars a right turn lane and a straight-ahead lane, while maintaining the two-way bike lane to the corner.

Eventually the whole of Flinders St needs bike lanes, as planned by Vicroads in the Principle Bike Network.  This is the first step but with immediate benefits.


 Posted by at 11:27 am
Jan 032014
Media: Courier Mail
Date: 4th December 2013
Headline: Cyclists backpedal on bad behaviour so State Government passes new safety legislation
Journalist: Damien Stannard Brittany Vonow
Yet another article that purports to talk about cycling but only references sport cycling. As if that were the definition of what cycling is.  Reading this article, you would assume that riding a bike is soley for the purpose of sport – racing and training.
Cycling is a wonderful sport, but that type of riding isn’t what is going to save our cities from gridlock and air pollution, save the earth from carbon dioxide pollution (global warming) and save us all time and money getting around. Changing the laws is, or should be, all about getting more people to use the bicycle to get around – safely.
So much else is wrong with this article. The strong implication is that cyclists only deserve respect if they “clean up their act” and “show respect”. How about similar calls for motorists to respect the people they regularly kill and injure? How about recognising that cyclists are given a road system and set of laws designed only to facilitate motor traffic, that doesn’t meet cyclists’ needs? How about discussing the fact that because of this dangerous and unfair system of roads, it’s often safer to break the law than to follow it?
 Posted by at 11:30 am
Dec 122013


This photograph was taken at 12:50pm on a weekday. If you bother to read the fine print on the parking signs – which the drivers of these vehicles didn’t do – you would know it is “no standing” at this time.

The original planning for Swanston St used the words “car free”.  This was later watered down, and when the design of the new tram stops was announced the plan was changed, with the spaces between the tram stops to be “looked at” once the tram stops were in.

That time has come.

The “spaces between the tram stops” are unsatisfactory for people riding bicycles as well as for trams.  Parked vehicles force bicycles into the path of trams, or else into the very restricted, unsafe space between, at risk of falling under the tram, especially if the parked vehicle opens a door onto the passing bike rider.  Trams are regularly delayed by bikes as the latter negotiate the hostile environment.  The extensive parking opportunities are too tempting for delivery and service vehicles and Council’s enforcement strategy has failed (attached photo was taken at 12:50pm on 10/12/2013, when there should be no motor vehicles  in Swanston St).

Streets should be “readable” at a glance, and enforcement in the absence of physical corroboration does not work as the evidence above shows.

Melbourne BUG’s proposal is to widen the footpath in some sections and narrow it in others. Where the footpath is wider, about 2m should be left as a bike lane, too narrow to permit parking at any time. To provide parking bays, the footpath would move in sufficiently to allow for a small number of loading zones, which could be used for 17 hours out of 24.

While we wait for this to be implemented, Clearways should be introduced along the entire length of Swanson St to make it easier for drivers to understand there are 7 hours out of 24 when they may not park in Swanston St.

 Posted by at 4:46 pm
Dec 102013

Update 24/12/2013

Council has informed Melbourne BUG that their proposal to continue the bicycle lane to the intersection was refused by the State Government (through Vicroads), with the following justification (Council’s statements are in italics, our responses are in bold font).

The likely impacts of the proposed Melbourne BUG treatment are outlined below.
Less green time for cyclists: the proposal would require extensive changes to the traffic signals at this intersection. Because cyclists and turning traffic would need to be time separated under the proposal, there would be significantly less green traffic signal time for cyclists. Therefore cyclists would have longer wait times and may be tempted to ignore the signals.
Less green time for pedestrians: the proposal would also require fully controlled left turns, thus potentially reducing pedestrian green times, and leading to longer waits and longer queues for left turn vehicles in Elizabeth Street.  
The additional time offered by the current design is only useful if you are prepared to ride, or walk across the intersection at the same time as cars are turning. Bikes are very efficient at moving through an intersection, a given number of people on bikes can traverse an intersection much more quickly than the same number of cars.
Limited road space: given the width of Elizabeth Street between the existing kerbs, we could not provide a bicycle lane, a physically separated island, a turn lane and two through lanes at appropriate widths. Providing narrower lanes or a narrower physical separator may compromise safety.
Given the width of Elizabeth Street at this point, it is a telling indication of the Victorian Government’s priorities to hear that there would be insufficient width to provide a safe bicycle lane.
Intersection capacity and efficiency: given the impacts outlined above, the proposal would reduce the efficiency and capacity of the intersection (how many vehicles / bicycles would pass through during each green cycle).
It’s all about facilitating people driving their cars to work. Morning peak is when the left turning cars are a congestion problem.
The current Elizabeth Street design has been utilised in other areas of the City of Melbourne, and has been found to be effective.  The turning motorists will cross the bicycle lane when entering the turn lane and safety at this potential conflict point is managed through green cycle lane pavement.  Cyclists and motorists should of course approach the conflict area with awareness and share the road.
Do you find this type of treatment effective? Do you feel safe?
The approved design removes the conflict between angle parking (and reversing vehicles) and cyclists and therefore offers a major improvement to cyclist safety over the existing conditions.
The kerbside lane, as far as it goes, is a major improvement, and is supported by Melbourne BUG.
As with all other bicycle installations, the City of Melbourne will monitor the safety and effectiveness of the Elizabeth Street physically-separated bicycle lanes and any safety issues arising from the treatment will be discussed with VicRoads
Be sure to report any crashes to Council.  Police also, but they are unlikely to record any crashes unless somebody is taken to hospital.

Original Post 10/12/2013

Elizabeth Street proposed "separated" bike lane design

Above is the graphic describing the proposed “kerbside” bikelane in Elizabeth St. These lanes will run on both sides of Elizabeth Street between the Haymarket roundabout and Queensberry Street.  You can see that bikes will emerge from behind the parked cars, immediately into the path of left-turning cars.  The cars have a green arrow for part of the cycle, so they are expecting to have absolute right-of-way and won’t be slowing down. The cars won’t see bikes coming down the hill, until they come out in front of them.

Melbourne BUG’s proposal, given to Council at an early stage, was to keep the bikelane kerbside all the way to the stop line. Left-turning cars and straight-ahead bikes can be separated in time and space by using the traffic light cycle. There is a turning phase already in use here, when cars turn right from Queensberry into Elizabeth, exiting the City, and left turning cars coming towards the City down Elizabeth St get a green left-turn arrow. During this phase, bikes would get a red light (stopping straight-ahead movement but still allowing left turns into the Queensberry St bike lane). During the straight-ahead green light in Elizabeth St, left-turning cars would get a red arrow under the BUG’s proposal, making it safe for cyclists to go straight ahead.

The type of design proposed by Melbourne BUG is standard in the Netherlands, and is increasingly in use in Copenhagen.

The design proposed by the City of Melbourne undermines the purpose of the protected bike lane. Why does the protection run out where it is needed most, at the intersection?

Answer, the City of Melbourne doesn’t believe in its own Transport Strategy.

For example, page 50 of the Transport Strategy includes “Traditionally, traffic growth has been met by allocating more space to cars often at the expense of trams, buses, pedestrians and cycling…the municipality’s road network needs to be optimised for the more space-efficient modes, including dedicated lanes for trams, bus priority lanes, bicycles lanes, wider pedestrian footpaths, safer and more comfortable level access tram stops and significantly better priority for space efficient vehicles at traffic lights especially trams, buses and pedestrians.

The City’s “Road Safety Plan” states on page 25 “…the City of Melbourne proposes a city where people take priority over the flow of traffic.” and “…the City of Melbourne clearly prioritises pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, particularly within the central city as having a key role in the future prosperity, liveability and sustainability of the city. On this basis…vulnerable road users should be supported by the physical environment…”

In practice, not so much.

Please write to Cr Cathy Oke, chair of Council’s transport committee and ask for the BUG’s safer design to be implemented.

Cr Cathy Oke
Phone: 03 9658 9086

City of Melbourne
GPO Box 1603
Melbourne VIC 3001

 Posted by at 5:05 pm
Nov 242013

While we are enjoying the new inbound lane on Princes Bridge, and the somewhat flawed outbound kerbside lane south of the bridge, the remainder of this project, budgeted for in last year’s council budget remains to be completed.

Currently when riding outbound over Princes Bridge, you have a choice of the ridiculously narrow “lane” with cars passing a few centimetres away, or using the “separated footpath”

Here’s the footpath on a recent Saturday afternoon:


The final part of this overdue project needs to be completed as soon as possible.  The City of Melbourne councillors decided to wait for the trial of the inbound lane to be completed before proceeding.  That trial was a complete success and Council voted unanimously to make it permanent. Vicroads approved all parts of the project earlier this year, there are no obstacles to completing the project immediately.

By the way, here’s what is wrong with the kerbside lane running outbound beyond the bridge:


 Posted by at 10:20 pm
Nov 242013

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.


 Posted by at 9:49 pm
Nov 012013

Along its length, Lorimer St, Fishermens Bend, is poorly served with inconsistent, part-time, stop-and-start bike lanes and shared footpaths.  Lorimer St leads to an area earmarked for intensive residential development and incorporation into the Capital City Zone, so let's hope that a quality bicycle route will link it to the City in future. At the moment it is a shambles.  There is also a nearby recreational cycling route along the Yarra River – one of the problems with this is the lack of connections between the two routes – once on the river path it's difficult to access a particular point on Lorimer Street.

The shared footpath becomes unsuitable for bikes at this point.  Actually it's unsuitable to begin with.



But there is an onroad path in the same area as well as two lanes for motor vehicles.


but another few meters along, the onroad lane disappears and a shared footpath starts.


In the other direction, the bike lane disappears into the car parking:


But only for 22 hours a day:

We haven't been to see how well observed the clearway is, but chances are you would be dodging illegally parked vehicles if you tried to use the part-time "bike lane".


 Posted by at 4:41 pm
Sep 062013

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.

 Posted by at 9:33 am
Aug 012013

Cr Foster (ALP member,  4-wheel driving inner suburban resident) has moved the following motion at the City of Melbourne's Future Melbourne committee meeting to be held 5:30pm Tuesday 6th August.


That the Future Melbourne Committee requests management to undertake the following:
1. present a report to the Committee meeting on 10 September 2013 on the status of Princes Bridge/St Kilda
Rd bike lanes including an assessment of community concerns relating to congestion and public safety and
any proposed remedy by management to address such matters; and
2. deferral of any further works on the bike lanes until the matter has been considered at the Committee
Following commencement of installation works on the Princes Bridge/St Kilda Rd bike lanes, significant
community concern has been expressed in relation to traffic congestion, travel time delays and public safety.
In light of increased community concern, it is proposed that an update briefing be provided on the status of
works including a Council officer assessment of the community concerns being raised.
It is important that this update and assessment be provided in a public forum to allow the community to be
better informed on the status and proposed solutions to any problems.
Until this information is presented to Committee, it is proposed that any further works on the bike lanes be
Moved: Cr Foster

Cr Foster is prepared to align with the RACV, the Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Herald Sun to oppose completion of the St Kilda Road bike lanes. He is calling for a "briefing" despite having received a briefing this week, in which he was told that the new lanes were not causing a blow-out in travel times, the same number of cars are getting through the Flinders St lights as before and the traffic flows are as predicted by the modelling carried out as part of planning the project.

Cr Foster is grandstanding to make himself better known in the electorate, with a view to furthering his political career.  We need to show him that underminding valuable projects to make cycling safer and more attractive will have the opposite effect and make him unelectable in this community.  The best way to do this is to make a submission to Council opposing his motion. It's easy, just send an email to

Your submission is powerful, all councillors are handed the public submissions before the meeting and have them in front of them when the item is considered.

 Posted by at 4:35 pm
May 302013

We hope you will make a submission to the Council on this year's budget. To help get you started, we've outlined the BUG's ideas below.

Submissions close at 5pm Friday 7 June. If you want to speak at the meeting to consider the budget on Tuesday 18 June at 5.30pm, you can request to do so in your submission. More information about the budget is here, make a submission here.

Bike budget insufficient to achieve Bicycle Plan

The City of Melbourne has cut its bike budget to $2.55 million (under half of the $5.6 million allocated in the 2012-13 budget). If the City of Melbourne is to become a "cycling city", a far greater budget commitment is required. At this rate, the City will not achieve its Bicycle Plan without significant catch-up in later budgets.

As a capital city council, a destination and thoroughfare for more than 800 000 Victorians daily, the City is more important to Melbourne bike riders than any other council area. Despite this central importance, it remains a more car-dominated, intimidating road environment for cyclists than other inner city councils the City of Moreland, the City of Yarra, or the City of Port Phillip. At the city’s last survey, 50 per cent of cyclists said they felt unsafe riding in the area.

Melbourne BUG recommends that this year’s budget be increased to at least $5.6 million, to match last year’s.

Concerns about proposed bike projects

Aside from the $400 000 for bike parking, Melbourne BUG has concerns about the proposed projects in this year’s budget:

$1.5 million for green paint and rumble strips in William Street

This project is inadequate and locks in failure. Such a busy street needs physically separated lanes. We would prefer that the funds be put aside rather than wasted in this way.

$300 000 for upgraded bike lanes in Neill Street

This is a quiet street with hardly any traffic that does not need any bike lanes. It is also a steep hill (inbound) and outbound it is difficult for bikes to turn right from Rathdowne St, so in both directions it is not the first choice for a bike route. Council is wasting funds on Neill St because of their obsession with keeping bicycles out of the Carlton Gardens.  Paths in the Carlton Gardens are wide and even in the morning peak are mostly very lightly used. There is plenty of space for a bike lane connecting Canning St to the new La Trobe St lanes, which also need to connect to Albert St. Council has no solution for bikes heading to Spring St from Canning St at the moment.

Bike parking

Money is allocated for bike parking, which is great, but there is no way for riders to have input into choice of new locations and the City of Melbourne’s process for determining these is opaque. Melbourne BUG recommends that the City of Melbourne set up a public input process for prioritising new parking.


Unlike the 2012-13 budget papers, this year’s Budget and Annual Plan does not include a capital works list. Melbourne BUG obtained this information about the projects from a City of Melbourne press release, indicating that they have already been decided on. Neither Melbourne BUG nor the broader community have been consulted about these projects.

Alternative capital works program

Melbourne BUG has a number of alternative suggestions about how this year’s budget money could be spent. The BUG does not have the resourcing to cost these alternative projects, so we err on the side of suggesting too much. The available budget can then determine what goes into the capital works program.

  • A high priority is to bring the Albert St lanes to Spring St and to treat Spring St to join it to LaTrobe St (1 block) with kerbside separated lanes, probably involving a clearway to keep 2 car lanes open, as this will become a bus route very soon.
  • Kerbside, separated lanes in William St, preferably from Flinders St to Flemington Rd.
  • Join Canning St to Albert St and Spring St. The current shared footpath is dangerous and unpleasant for all users, the intersection with Nicholson and Victoria is a disgrace, and Nicholson St from Victoria St to Bourke St is also very bad.
  • Join Port Melbourne and Cecil St lanes to northbank of Yarra by building off-road lanes on the west side of Clarendon St. N.B. both Spencer St and Flinders St are part of the bike network proposed in the Council's long-term bike strategy, they are both part of Vicroads principal bike network and the link along Clarendon St will integrate in the future with these, but in the short term allows access to the Yarra River paths.
  • LaTrobe St – Swanston intersection improvement. Two of the most high-profile bike route in Melbourne meet here. Yet the LaTrobe lanes disappear completely going east. Since traffic turning left into Swanston would have only Lt LaTrobe St or A Beckett St to go to, some minor modifications like making Swanston St one-way between A Beckett and LaTrobe could mean a big improvement for bikes while having little effect on other traffic movements.
  • Make a start on St Kilda Rd by completing and releasing the draft master plan for St Kilda Rd, and include high quality lanes from Southbank Bvd all the way to St Kilda Junction (which itself needs bike treatment but outside the scope of CoM).
  • Investigate safe, separated bike lanes in Flinders St between Spring St and Swanston St. Data shows a high number of bicycle movements there despite the hostile road environment, and observation shows many of these are using the footpath. Building a gantry over the railway void for pedestrians is one alternative that would integrate with any future development of the rail yards air-space.
  • High quality lanes in Grattan St, not shared with buses, from Flemington Road to Rathdowne St and with a safe interface into Carlton Street.
  • Flemington Rd and Royal Pde need physically separated lanes. Like St Kilda Rd, these are declared (State) roads and Council needs to propose safe treatments for all three wide boulevards, with a view to action in future years.
 Posted by at 2:47 pm