Monday, February 15, 2010

Swanston Street redevelopment

I posted previously about how the Melbourne public supports a car free Swanston Street. The plans remove car parking and give cyclists a 2 meter wide bike lane next to the trams in both directions. The redevelopment will be completed by 2013 costing $25.6 million according to an article in The Age. The Council's media release says that the redevelopment of Swanston Street will have:
  • A 24-hour ban on all cars (excluding taxis and authorised vehicles) to be implemented during 2010
  • Taxis to be banned from mid-2012
  • Four new public spaces with disability-compliant tram stops
  • Tram tracks lowered and the bluestone and granite paving extended to the platform edge
  • Two metre wide bike lanes – road rules will apply, cyclists must give way to tram passengers
  • Service and delivery vehicles at restricted times in limited sections of the street
  • New and consistent lighting, additional trees, florals, artworks and public seating installed along the street
  • Additional pavement-based activity including outdoor cafes and innovative retail encouraged
  • It remain Melbourne’s premier civic parade street.
This is a big win for pedestrians and cyclists although the shared space for cyclists and tram passengers at the stops is likely to be a major conflict point and will need to be watched. Pedestrians are already used to keeping an eye out for cars but once they are removed from the street will they remember to look out for cyclists before crossing?

The proposal was to be presented to Council on 2 February but no news yet as to decisions. What is interesting about this is the Lord Mayor's admission that his original views on returning cars to Swanston Street were wrong. He calls it his 'road to Damascus' where he 'saw the light'. Part of his conversion could be thanks to meeting New York's Mayor Bloomberg and seeing how he has given some of the busiest intersections in New York to pedestrians and cyclists and in doing so reduced congestion. Paul Steely White commented that New York's example can convince other cities to look after pedestrians and cyclists. This proves him right.

From a visit in 2008 I would say that cyclists and pedestrians on St Kilda Road around Flinders Street Station would welcome a bit more space at the expense of cars. Bicycle Victoria confirms that this is one of the most popular routes and dangerous spots for cyclists in the city.

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