Melbourne councils unite to get congestion levy money for bikes

Melbourne cyclists for 350Climate Action

The three powerful inner metropolitan municipalities, Melbourne, Yarra and Port Phillip, got together this week to get more money for bicycle infrastructure from the congestion levy on car parks in the inner city suburbs, Bicycle Network Victoria reported (10 April 2014).

Two priorities are bicycle parking and end-of-trip facilities.

The State Government has collected the levy and returned 9 per cent of it to the City of Melbourne, which has spent it on projects such as the Swanston St redevelopment and the La Trobe St bike lanes.

The government previously has announced a major expansion of the area subject to the levy and intends to raise the tax rate.

The purpose of the levy is to encourage the development of sustainable transport and it is expected to being in about $120.8 million a year.

It was introduced in 2006 to pay for alternative transport systems to car congestion, such as public transport and bicycles.

The levy in central Melbourne is being lifted $1300 per car space including short and long term spaces. In the peripheral districts it will be $950.

The fact that the three councils acted together, even arranging to have the resolution adopted on the same evening at each council, is almost unprecedented and indicates the importance that the councils attach to the bike infrastructure funding issue, BNV said.

State budget allocations are slipping behind what is needed to match the growth in bike riding, it said.

Melbourne’s bike commuter boom was placing desperate pressure on bike parking facilities in the city and had highlighted the need to update the requirements for bike parking and end-of-trip facilities.

Victoria’s planning provisions for bike parking were outstanding for their day but such was the growth in riding to work that they now were woefully inadequate.

Many of the recent office buildings erected in Melbourne had bike parking that greatly exceeds the minimum standards as the developers and tenants realised that more and more workers would be arriving by bike.

If these developments had stuck to the legal minimum, the bike parking situation could have been even more desperate, BNV said.

Because of the lack of parking in many older, and even some more recent developments, bikes that should be parked in proper facilities were spilling out into the streets.

Street racks that should be available to visitors and shoppers were instead being tied up all day by city workers.

This was a particular problem for staff in shops. While the major corporates have been looking after their staff with good facilities on the big office buildings, the rapidly expanding retail industry was treating its workforce with disdain, forcing them to lock their bikes on the street, BNV said.

Melbourne city had been working hard to find more spaces for bike racks on the street but options were limited. Police were concerned at the rise in theft of bikes in the city.  Bikes locked up all day on the street were more likely to become a target of thieves, it said.

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