The new tram stops were installed last weekend. Stand by for a review of the alterations to the segregated bicycle lanes adjacent. Here is Vicroads notice.
Points to note. The 1000mm separation kerbing will be replaced with 300mm kerbing where the bike lane passes the two new super-stops. This was one of the two options CityCyclist presented to Council when these works went before Council committee. I had previously suggested these to Vicroads and been ignored – Vicroads was going to give us 300mm of paint only. Luckily it's a City of Melbourne road and Vicroads were only running the planning part of the project then passing it over to CoM for actioning. Congrats to City of Melbourne and Manager Engineering Services Geoff Robinson in particular for including the proposal in his presentation to Council and recommending it.
City of Melbourne to consider the tram stop proposal at their "Future Melbourne" committee meeting Tuesday 5/4/2011 5pm, Council Meeting room, Town Hall administration building.
VicRoads Proposal: to remove all safety zone stops and replace with 2 platform stops. This part of Swanston St has Melbourne's first segregated,
From a cycling perspective this proposal reduces the quality of the
existing lanes considerably. Alongside the new stops, the segregating
barrier is to be removed and replaced with a 300mm buffer including a rumble strip. Cars approaching the tram stop will be directed left (towards the bike lane) and we hope they will turn right again before crossing the rumble strip, to run close alongside the platform stop. VicRoads received 14 objections from cyclists to the removal of the barrier.
If you would like to speak to the Committee, you must submit by email before midday on Tuesday, and indicate that you want to speak. See http://bit.ly/h7srzh
VicRoads Tram & Bus Unit developed the plans and ran the consultation,
although it is a CoM road. Options that City Cyclist put to VicRoads were:
Proposal: put the "Copenhagen" back into the Swanston St "Copenhagen" lanes. In Copenhagen, most bicycle lanes are grade separated from cars, but without the raised, kerbed buffer shown in the photo. There is (often) no separation between the bike lane and cars, except for a single kerb that marks the difference in height (grade) between the car lane and the bike lane. Vicroads' current proposal is to remove the buffer zone, alongside the proposed platform tram stops, so that separation between bikes and cars will be by a painted line only. At the entrance to the tram stop, cars will have to move left to avoid the tram stop, thus pointing them into the bike lane. Proposed solution: put the "Copenhagen" back into the Swanston St bike lanes, and introduce a raised kerb, with the bike path halfway up to footpath grade. The ramp on and off could be long, so as to be hardly noticable (this will help with drainage also, which could be an issue).
After only a couple of years, these lanes are to be chopped up to accommodate bigger (platform) tram stops. This is unfortunate but there is not room to retain the kerbed separation along with the larger tram stops. The segregated lanes will continue as at present, between the tram stops. The number of tram stops in this section is also to be reduced to two. Note this is a separate project to the super stops and pedestrianisation of Swanston St further south in the CBD (Central Business District).
On road parking will be removed alongside the new tram stops, so there will be no buffer of parked cars between the bike lane and the moving motor traffic. Instead the plan — at this stage not finalised — is to provide a 300mm buffer, using some sort of delineator and/or paint, possibly similar to those used in Glenlyon Rd Brunswick. The width of the bike lane would not be reduced according to the draft design. A buffer of 300mm is narrower than that alongside the Albert St lanes and a lot narrower than the buffer zone on the Queensberry St lanes where they cross this section of Swanston St. Note however that there are no car doors to contend with.
At this stage City Cyclist does not have dates or any means for you to give feedback on the project, but watch this space, and sign up for updates below.
From Victoria Parade up to Grattan st, Melbourne City Council installed "Copenhagen" lanes in 2008. These high quality bicycle lanes are between the footpath and parked cars, separated from the parking by a narrow raised barrier. Most lanes in Copenhagen do not have this separating barrier, but instead have the bike lane raised (above grade) relative to the car lanes, but not up to the height of the footpath. So the Swanston St lanes are closer to Dutch bike lanes, which have a barrier between the bikes and the cars.
This is the first attempt at physical separation of on-road bike lanes in Melbourne. There has been some criticism but the lanes seem to work well. One lane of traffic was removed to create the space for the lanes, but at intersections alongside tram "safety" zones there are two lanes of traffic and the physical barrier disappears. This may actually make those intersections safer, as the bikes and cars can see each other and turning movements are more obvious. The least safe points are probably the crossovers of the separated lanes at driveways and minor side roads.
There is safety, and then there are perceptions of safety. On the whole, perceived safety is the greatest factor retarding cycling in Melbourne (as in most places in the world). Therefore, the Swanston St lanes are positive, as they increase perceived safety. Whether actual safety is increased or diminished is yet to be known, however anything that encourages more cycling increases safety (safety in numbers).
A study in Copenhagen found that their (grade-separated) lanes were safer when parking was retained, presumably because removal of parking causes more turning movements as cars have to park on the side roads. It is the turning movements that create most of the danger, while other dangers are diminished. This indicates that having parked cars on the outside of the bike lane is not a negative for safety in practice.
The Swanston St lanes are wide enough for two bicycles abreast, which allows overtaking (very important on the hill section).