New bike lanes will be “another disaster in the making”

New bike lanes will be “another disaster in the making”
Brendan Rees

A Carlton resident has raised concerns over a City of Melbourne plan to install protected bike lanes along Grattan St, saying “it’s got debacle written all over it.”

The council has begun preparatory works to create 1.8-metre-wide kerbside protected bike lanes between Bouverie and Rathdowne streets with the rollout scheduled for March/April.

However, resident Tim Swain said reducing two traffic lanes to one in each direction on Grattan St to make way for the new bike lanes opened a range of safety and congestion issues.

“I’m not anti-bike lanes all, but Carlton already has many such lanes and to install additional protected bike lanes at a significant cost in a major residential, commercial, educational, and medical street seems totally unnecessary,” he said.

According to the council, the new bike lanes “are part of a continued program to deliver a network of protected bike lanes across the city, in partnership with the Victorian Government.”

“Grattan St is a key route identified in Council’s Transport Strategy 2030 and will help connect busy bike lanes on Rathdowne St and Canning St to key destinations such as University of Melbourne and hospital precinct,” a letter from the council to residents said.

It is understood works for the new bike lanes will take about six weeks to be installed.

The council said most existing on-street parking spaces would be kept but in “some instances” a parking space may need to be removed on the approach to driveways, laneways, or intersections to “help improve sight lines between bike riders and motorists turning into and out of side flowing.”

Under the plans, bus stops will “likely be maintained” next to the footpath but this will require cyclists to ride around buses.

New hook turns on approaches to “most intersections” would also be installed “to ensure that one through lane of traffic keeps flowing.”


But Mr Swain said, "It's going to add enormously to congestion and safety," adding you are taking traffic away from what is currently a very widely used road for basically very few cyclists. 


“The other issue we face in Rathdowne St, and which will occur in Grattan St, is the issues around future rubbish bin collection. The council now engages staff in Rathdowne St to pull bins from the kerb into the one traffic lane for collection by Citywide rubbish trucks … this will be compounded in Grattan St.”

“Also, how will emergency vehicles navigate a busy street when there is just one lane in either direction?” 

“In my view, it is another disaster in the making.”

According to the council, part of Grattan St from Rathdowne and Drummond streets are listed under the World Heritage Environs Area and “given the international heritage significance of this precinct, officers have sought independent heritage advice that has been considered in the design process.”

To retain the heritage significance, the council said the existing bluestone “pitcher channel” (gutters) from Drummond St to Rathdowne St would be lifted and relaid  while double chevron bike lanes (to assist people to ride outside the “car dooring zone”) are proposed to be installed westbound from Rathdowne St to Drummond St.

A Victorian Automotive Chamber of Commerce spokesperson said, “Solving Melbourne’s mobility issues requires a multi-pronged approach, and bicycles play a part in a good outcome.”

But the spokesperson added, “at any one time, if one were to look at a bike lane alongside a road what you would see is a small smattering of bicycles traveling freely next to a road with a long line of stationary cars on it.”

An AusCycling spokesperson said protected bike lanes were essential for people to be safe and feel safe while riding their bikes.

Bicycle Network said building safer places for people to ride was a key step in “any modern city’s development.”

RACV general manager of mobility Elizabeth Kim said evidence had shown that dedicated bike lanes and paths helped make cycling “a feasible, affordable and sustainable transport option for many.” •


Image: Resident Tim Swain has expressed concerns about new protected bike lanes to be rolled out in Grattan St, Carlton. Picture: Brendan Rees.

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