As an adopted Melbournian and born again road cyclist, I always feel a bit twitchy when I read a heading on the front page of The Age that said something like “Melbourne’s worst streets for bike crashes”. This appeared in the Age on the 26th February, and immediately had me scratching my head and assessing this list.
But its this commentary that caught my eye:
“Five of the top 10 streets for crashes are in the City of Melbourne – St Kilda Road, Elizabeth Street, La Trobe Street, Collins Street and Swanston Street. Others in the top 10, including Chapel Street and Brunswick Street, mostly share the common trait of cyclists riding on busy streets beside parking spaces that have a high turnover of cars.”
The key common factor being the movement of motorists across where the bike riders are going, is creating these hazardous situations. That’s a fair point, it is a point that is also supported by the Strava Heat Map of Melbourne CBD.
The bright blue ‘lanes’ of Swanston St, St Kilda Rd, Latrobe St, the top ‘end’ parts of Collins and Elizabeth St at clearly heavy use cycling areas. Elizabeth St just baffles me as there is no cycling path, the same is true for most of Collins St. Why any cyclist would use these streets is just beyond me. Same goes with Chapel St and Sydney Road. It seems to me that a cyclist’s best survival strategy is to avoid these corridors.
Of all these streets, Latrobe St is by far the biggest disappointment. It’s really clear that the ‘so-called’ Copenhagen lane, hasn’t worked. That’s probably no surprise to commuter cyclists who use. It simply doesn’t cover the entire street and offers no protection to cyclists to motorists turning left.
So what’s the answer?? It is the unthinkable – remove all non-public transport and non-commercial vehicles from the CBD in the hours of 7.00-9.30 am and 16.00-19:00 pm and implement a London-style congestion zone for the period in between. Then build car parks outside the CBD and next to tram ways to house cars driven by commuting motorists. It makes no sense to keep supporting the use of cars in CBD.
So that’s my 2016 leap year anti-car rant. Until next time, stay safe.