Melbourne wants more people on bicycles

Melbourne City Council wants more commuters on bikes.

The Melbourne City Council will build key separated bicycle routes and advocate for slower traffic speeds in the central city to get more people on bikes, including the Bike Share scheme, the council says in its Transport Strategy Review.

Perth is due to get a 40kph speed limit in the city next month.

Melbourne council said a big barrier to cycling for many people was the perception that that riding on roads was not safe, which was likely to be a factor in the slow takeup of the State Government’s Bike Share scheme because many of the stations were in an area – the Hoddle Grid – where there were few separated bicycle lanes.

Its goal was to make Melbourne a cycling city. The municipality’s entire road network would be safe and attractive for cyclists of all ages. Bikes would become the transport of choice for private trips in the municipality, including for work, school, business and recreation.

Cycling could reduce loading on public transport services, infrastructure took up little space and was generally relatively cheap to implement. It also was environmentally benign.

For individuals, cycling was a cheap, healthy, environmentally benign, space efficient and socially stimulating form of private mobility.

The councils wanted the Bike Share scheme expanded in the city, into adjoining municipalities and integrated more with public transport by putting more bike stations at public transport nodes and connecting the Bike Share scheme to the State Government’s MYKI smart rider ticket system.  It also wanted bicycle parking at suburban train stations connected to the ticket system to make it easier for commuters to use, it said.

It supported the Bike Share scheme, launched by the RACV on behalf of the State Government in May last year, by providing bike station sites on council land. The scheme had more than 400 bicycles and 50 stations, mostly in the municipality. No major accidents had been reported.

The scheme had been operating successfully but not as well as other schemes around the world – fewer than one use per day per bike compared with up to 10 uses per day in others.

Melbourne already had the largest number of cyclists of any local government area in Victoria. In 2007, four per cent of trips to the city for all purposes were by bicycle. There had been significant increases in bicycle use since then.  Regular traffic counts showed that up to 10 per cent of  private vehicles on the road in the morning peak hour were bicycles, mostly heading into central Melbourne.

Cycling was Melbourne’s fastest growing transport mode. Growth was due to several factors including sharp rises in petrol price in 2006 and 2008, congestion on road and public transport and improvements in bicycle infrastructure. In some routes into the city, bicycle traffic in peak times was comparable with motor vehicle traffic.

The average distance cycled to and from the city was just under eight kilometres and,  within the city, just over five kilometres. As Melbourne intensified, cycling would play a greater role as more people lived within easy cycling distance to their destinations. The experience of international cities showed that the potential in Melbourne for cycling to cater for short trips is significant, if the cycling network was safe, direct, convenient, attractive and well connected.

Gaps in cycleway links from suburbs south of the city meant fewer people rode in from that direction.  It would work with councils to build an arterial bike network.

The council would convert more car parking bays on streets to bicycle parking because it increased local business’ trade and had strong community support.  In 2008, the council had converted two car parking spaces on Lygon Street to 16 bike parking spaces (eight hoops).  A review in 2010 found that retail spending generated had increased ignificantly. The use of footpath space for bike parking was not preferred in parts of the municipality, due to high pedestrian numbers and other preferred uses, such as kerb-side dining and open space.

It also would work to change planning regulations to increase long-term parking, such as for employees, and end-of-trip facilities such as showers.  The regulations for Melbourne city were the same as for councils right across the State.

The complete strategy document is at: http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/AboutCouncil/PlansandPublications/strategies/Documents/Transport_Strategy_Review_2011_Draft.pdf

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