“This is not binary”: City of Melbourne revises bike lane rollout

“This is not binary”: City of Melbourne revises bike lane rollout
Sean Car

City of Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp has called out “binary” debates surrounding transport in the city, declaring “everyone is welcome” to Melbourne, as the council called time on its accelerated bike lane rollout last month.

Cr Capp made the comments at the Future Melbourne Committee (FMC) meeting on April 23 where a majority of councillors endorsed an updated Cycling and Micromobility Infrastructure Program.

Following the adoption of its 2030 Transport Strategy in 2020, the council set an ambitious target of constructing 44 kilometres of new bike lanes by June 2024 – a goal that has fallen short by more than 23 kilometres.

The report on April 23 noted that as at March 2024, 27.4 kilometres had been installed across the city, 18.7 kilometres of which the council said had been delivered under its accelerated program.

The remainder of new separated bike lanes have been provided through other council programs, including Turner and Graham streets in Fishermans Bend (2.1km), and a further 6.6km was installed along St Kilda Rd by the state government.

Councillors voted in support of “the cessation of the ‘accelerated program’” after the Department of Transport and Planning informed the council that it would no longer consider low-cost trial construction materials, opting instead for permanent solutions.

It also follows the state government’s April 4 announcement that the current e-scooter trial would be made permanent, and the council said this only reinforced the need for more physically separated lanes “to facilitate the safe movement of micromobility modes in addition to cycling”.

The report provided a rephased timeline on all current bike lane projects until 2026/27, with Grattan St, Arden St, Royal Parade, Abbotsford St, and Exhibition St (between Lonsdale and La Trobe streets) all next in the queue.


A map highlighting the council’s revised rollou


While speaking in support of the motion, Cr Rohan Leppert said it was a “bitter disappointment” that long-awaited bike lanes (or “riding lanes” which is now the preferred term to capture all modes of mobility) on Flinders St had been delayed.


I am exceptionally disappointed that we’re not progressing with Flinders St at this time,” Cr Leppert said, adding that “we really do need a bit more cooperation and love from the state government on this stuff.


Following the “pause” to the bike lane rollout in the Hoddle Grid in 2022, the council committed to bring forward other routes outside the CBD, however Cr Leppert said many were still awaiting the state government “to do their bit”.

“We’re actually going to need a bit more cooperation and speed from the state in order to do our bits, and the state needs to do their bits. This is an ongoing problem,” Cr Leppert said.

Evaluation of separated mobility lanes showed a reduction in the crash rate by 46 per cent, a 22 per cent increase in usage and an increase in the number of women riders from 24 per cent to 36 per cent, while 30 per cent of e-scooter trips reported as replacing a car trip and 84 per cent of e-scooter trips utilised mobility lanes.

Despite the positive results, long outspoken critic of the program Cr Roshena Campbell was alone in voting against the plan, arguing that the city’s traders was a critical voice that was being ignored in the debate.

“I speak to traders who tell me that bike lanes have made it harder for their customers to get in and for them to do business; I’ve spoken to those customers who tell me that when they’re serious about shopping in the city … they are coming in by car,” Cr Campbell said.

“If we make these bike lanes permanent, if we commit to rolling out more, we are ignoring a critical voice in this debate.”

The Lord Mayor responded by slamming “binary” discussions as unhelpful.

“Cr Campbell spoke of a message being received where some people feel that usually, if they’re coming from afar, that cars aren’t welcome. The message is, everyone’s welcome,” Cr Capp said.

“Let’s be clear: drivers of cars and vehicles still have the majority of space in our transport network. I’ll say it again: people who drive cars are welcome to our city; they have the majority of space available to them.”

“What the evidence and data shows us is that when we build riding lanes, people use them.”

“As leaders of the city, we have a responsibility to reflect the reality and that is a transport system that is able to welcome all modes of transport. This is about people.” •

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