New bike lanes set to be to be rolled out in East Melbourne

New bike lanes set to be to be rolled out in East Melbourne
Brendan Rees

New bike lanes will be created along a residential street in East Melbourne as part of a City of Melbourne initiative to improve road safety.

The council has gained approval from the Department of Transport in its proposal to lower the speed limit in Grey St from 50km/h to 40km/h.  

However, the approval is subject to a bike lane being installed on Grey St between Hoddle and Clarendon streets to narrow the road and promote a lower speed environment.  

The council also won approval to reduce the speed limit at nearby Hotham St, which would also require a bike lane.

Works to install the bike lanes are expected to kick-off in June this year. The plans do not include the removal of car parking spaces.

According to group president of the East Melbourne Group (EMG) Greg Bisinella, his group was supportive of the speed reduction and traffic calming measures, they expressed concerns the bike lanes would be “particularly functional”.

He said Grey St “banks straight into a major arterial [street]” being Hoddle St “and you can’t go there on a bike, so it doesn’t seem to make sense from that perspective.”

“Without saying we don’t want them; we just want to understand is there another method or is there another way,” Mr Bisinella said.

East Melbourne resident and cyclist Sadie, who did not wish to use her surname, said she wasn’t bothered whether Grey St had bike lanes, but believed the “reasons for opposing their installation are ridiculous and not grounded in evidence.”

“Council is required to narrow the streets to implement the 40km/h speed limit, so it seems like a no brainer to do this by adding bike lanes,” she said.

“It might encourage more residents to ride their bikes and it hopefully makes cars drive a little slower.”

“The letter we received showed that the lane will be painted on the road between the existing car parks and the remaining road.”

The proposal has sparked mixed reactions on social media with one saying it would be “very sad” if the streets would be narrowed and/or the median strips reduced.

Others commented there was “zero” consultation, while another wrote more quality bike lanes would invite “people who currently don’t ride their bike for a range of reasons to hop onto their two-wheels”.

In a statement, the EMG said it understood the Department of Transport would only put 40km/h limits on roads that are relatively narrow “because wider roads are too misleading/unfair to motorists”.

“The options were to create bike lanes or increase the median strip. Median strip changes would be expensive and would have to be paid for by the council and would take a long time to happen,” it said.

“The bike lanes are to be simple lines on the road to reduce the lane width for motorists – there are no concrete barriers planned.”

The roll out of the new speed limit is expected to occur in August.

The council recently wrote to the local community advising of the upcoming works, saying it was “committed to improving road safety in the municipality, particularly for vulnerable road users”.

“The installation of bicycle facilities along Grey St is included in the City of Melbourne’s capital works program with funding allocated as part of the 2021-22 budget,” it said. •

Picture: East Melbourne Group amenities convenor Jennifer Owen at Grey St where bikes will be installed.

Photo: Rebecca Broadhead.

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