Archives for category: Bicycle

A 5.3-million-dollar bicycle bridge on the Federation Trail near Yarraville will close on Monday 16 July, 2018, to make way for the Andrews Government’s destructive West Gate Tunnel elevated tollway.

FedTrailBridge

The bicycle bridge, which provides the only safe route from Melbourne’s industrial west towards the Maribyrnong River Trail, was opened in 2014 before any whisper of the new tollway was known to the public.

The new road will widen the West Gate Freeway to 12 lanes, with some of those lanes taking the place of the new bicycle path. A realigned path connecting with the new bridge will not be open until 2022.

So what are your alternatives?

The first option is the route identified by the West Gate Tunnel project.

Official detour

This is the most direct detour, but the route through the West Gate Freeway interchange with Millers Road would be enough to deter even a determined bicyclist from ever travelling that way again.

The official detour also dumps bicyclists at the (soon to be) former city end of the Federation Trail. The trail is incomplete and bicyclists must find their own way once they have crossed the (soon to be closed) bridge, so it does not make sense to dump users of the trail in the middle of nowhere rather than provide a route to connect with the Maribyrnong River Trail.

Detour via Richards Court Overpass

FedTrailRichards

This detour (see here) utilises an overpass between Richards Court and Rosala Avenue. The map I have provided also guides users of this route towards the Maribyrning River Trail rather than dumping trail users at the end of an incomplete path.

For note, this route interacts with the West Gate Freeway via the overpass. Work on the freeway expansion may limit access at times. Also, this route utilises Blackshaws Road, which is not the most comfortable for bicycling, but the road is quieter than some of the busy trucking routes in the west.

Detour via Kororoit Creek Trail

FedTrailKororoit

This detour (see here) utilises the (incomplete) Kororoit Creek Trail from the Federation Trail to Blackshaws Road. The map I have provided also guides users of this route towards the Maribyrning River Trail rather than dumping trail users at the end of an incomplete path.

For note, this route interacts with the West Gate Freeway via an underpass along the Kororoit Creek Trail. Work on the freeway expansion may limit access at times. Also, this route utilises Blackshaws Road, which is not the most comfortable for bicycling, but the road is quieter than some of the busy trucking routes in the west.

Detour via Point Cook

FedTrailPointCook

This detour (see here) abandons the Federation Trail entirely and provides a route for those who want to cycle all the way from Werribee or Hoppers Crossing to the Maribyrnong River Trail. The route utilises a combination of roads and trails, including the Bay Trail through Altona. At 27.5 kilometres, it really could be quite a fun ride.

For note, this route utilises roads that have wide paths along the side, specifically Sneydes Road. These paths appear to be intended for shared use, however, few are actually signed that way. So I leave it up to you to choose whether to ride on the wide path or on the road.

Final thought

The West Gate Tunnel will actually complete the Federation Trail at the city end, so bicyclists will benefit eventually, however, it is still disappointing that so little foresight is applied to infrastructure planning in Victoria.

It is also disappointing that safe bicycle infrastructure is so often only provided alongside roadway expansion projects rather than as standalone initiatives aimed at promoting bicycling. This also means that cycleways are often only built beside new bypass roads, which is not where a commuter bicyclist is likely to want to ride. Homes are not on the bypass, neither are the shops, schools, employment. They are in town, with the people, and that is where a commuter bicyclist is likely to want to travel.

This post has been updated to reflect that the four-year-old bicycle bridge will not be demolished. Instead the path leading to it will be demolished and a new path connecting to the bridge will not be open until 2022.

Advertisements

As part of the Melbourne Metro Rail tunnel project, Moray Street in South Melbourne is being partially upgraded for bicyclists in compensation for closures on St Kilda Road, which runs parallel, due to the construction of the new Anzac Station.

The bicycle upgrades to Moray Street include physically separated bicycle lanes, wider painted bicycle lanes, and the installation of pedestrian and bicyclist priority features to the existing roundabouts at Coventry Street and Dorcas Street.

Moray Street and Dorcas Street

The new roundabouts include ‘wombat’ crossings (raised zebra crossings) that are fairly common on roundabouts in busy pedestrian areas. The difference with these wombat crossings is the bicycle lanes added on the roundabout side.

This positioning of the bicycle lanes is inspired by design from the Netherlands (video below), however, it is likely that simply adding a bike lane to the wombat crossings, rather than providing greater pedestrian and bicyclist separation, is due to a perceived need to provide infrastructure that motorists would find familiar.

What I like

Road User Hierarchy

The first feature to like of the new roundabouts is that they enforce the vulnerable road user hierarchy. That is, pedestrians are given priority over bicyclists and motorists, bicyclists are given priority over motorists. All road design, at least in city, suburban, and town areas, should attempt to enforce priority in this way.

Secondly, this general design is the only way that roundabouts can be incorporated into bicycle friendly corridors. One of the major reasons people do not ride a bicycle on the road is due to the lack of safe infrastructure. A new bicyclist is unlikely to willingly choose a route that forces them to merge with busy motor traffic, such as at roundabouts.

Thirdly, and personally, I like that I can just ride through these roundabouts rather than needing to constantly gauge traffic, merge, and stop in front of motorists who like to inch their cars forward, closer and closer. Of course, an individual should not sail blindly through these new roundabouts, but the pressure is greatly reduced.

What can be improved

These are the first attempt at bicycle priority roundabouts in Melbourne (and maybe Australia), so there is going to be room for improvement and the first suggestion I would make in that regard is greater pedestrian and bicyclist separation.

No pedestrian and bicyclist separation

These bicycle lanes have been placed on the footway on the corners of the intersection. You will see from the Netherlands video above that the bicycle lanes have been physically separated from pedestrians by raised traffic islands and kerbs. On Moray Street, possibly due to space constraints and the need for the bicycle lanes to be at the same height as the footpath to access the wombat crossings, the design easily allows for a pedestrian to wander onto the green paint.

Pedestrians cannot be blamed for wandering into the bicycle lanes, though, as this is a new design and there is literally nothing to stop them. With future roundabouts, a barrier between the bicycle lane and the footway should be included. This barrier could be planter boxes, seating, or other dual-purpose feature.

Harsh kerb ramp

The second improvement I would suggest is gentler kerb ramps on the bicycle lane. Harsh kerbs are, unfortunately, a continuing feature of bicycle infrastructure. It is unclear why gentler designs are not the first consideration. Harsh bumps are a bane to new bicyclists who are likely to have a sore bottom and, in this case, the kerbs may even cause confusion as the painted bicycle lanes leading towards the roundabout do not force a bicyclist onto the green strip.

This brings me to my third area for improvement. A new user approaching these roundabouts from a bicycle lane that is not physically separated from motor traffic may merge with traffic through the roundabouts as they are unaccustomed to being guided to the left. The kerb ramps add to this confusion as they may appear to be intended for accessible access to the footway, especially when joining Moray Street as pictured below. Protected lanes that physically guide bicyclists onto the bicycle lane around the roundabouts should be included in future projects.

Bicyclists are not clearly directed to onto the green strip

Further thoughts

Design that allows a person to choose to ride a bicycle rather than drive a car is design that is good for bicycling and motoring. It frees space in the motor lane as a person who does not need their car is given the choice to leave it at home. It also improves individual health and happiness, aides the economy, and encourages new bicycling which drives authorities to provide greater infrastructure.

With those points it is disappointing to see certain media already fuelling division by stoking community misunderstanding of the benefits of initiatives that allow a person to choose not to drive.

It is also disappointing that we have a supposedly progressive Government that is determined to run the state as though it is the 1980s. All around us Daniel Andrews is pushing ahead projects that will entrench car dependency and, in doing so, make traffic congestion worse. He scrapped bicycle improvements to St Kilda Road, ceased PTV’s incremental improvements to train timetables almost immediately upon taking office, is pressing ahead with construction of the most destructive road Melbourne will have ever seen, has shown that he is not against destroying suburban centres with enormous trenches, and has thrown out consideration of restricting vehicle use in Melbourne’s CBD despite the extreme inefficiencies the city currently suffers by the free use of motor vehicles on its congested streets.

But I have wandered off topic. These new roundabouts are a good start and I look forward to seeing them rolled out at other suitable locations.