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$30.5m bike lane project at St Kilda Rd gets under way

$30.5m bike lane project at St Kilda Rd gets under way
David Schout

A $30.5 million state government project to create separated kerbside bike lanes along St Kilda Rd has begun with works kicking off in Southbank.

The rollout, managed by Major Roads Project Victoria (MRPV), begun in late September and will be completed in several stages – with a section between Linlithgow Ave and Dorcas St under way.

MRPV will deliver wide, separated lanes along the kerb in the service lanes on both sides of most of St Kilda Rd, as well as bike markings, with additional bike priority at intersections.

Bicycle Network’s chief executive Alison McCormack was thrilled with the news, saying “we have waited an eternity for this project”.

“It is one of the most important commuter routes into the city, yet the infrastructure has been primitive, resulting in too many collisions and dooring incidents,” she said.

 

The new bike lanes are expected to improve the safety of 3500 cyclists by eliminating the risk of being struck by car doors or “dooring” and reducing the risk of crashes.

 

The state government hoped it would also encourage more people to take up cycling, therefore easing congestion on busy St Kilda Rd, reducing vehicle emissions, and freeing up public transport.

To complete stage one, crews will temporarily close a section of the outer traffic lanes in each direction on St Kilda Rd, between Linlithgow Ave and Dorcas St, with works expected to be completed by December.

MRPV noted there would be temporary bike lanes, reduced speed limits, reduced parking, and restricted access to loading zones while the works took place.

Southbank 3006 residents’ group vice-president Jannine Pattison welcomed the rollout saying, “anything that increases safety for cyclists the 3500 cyclists who use St Kilda Rd daily is a positive thing”.

“However, $30.5 million is a heck of a lot of money to spend on bike lanes whilst other road initiatives and traffic calming measures are begging for attention – roads which could see deadly outcomes if not addressed,” she said.

Southbank Residents’ Association president Tony Penna said his group also supported the project as “we’ve always ben advocate of trying to make the roads friendly for everyone”.

RACV’s general manager of mobility Elizabeth Kim said it supported the continued rollout of bike lanes, particularly given the increased uptake of bike riding over the past few years. 

 “RACV has been advocating for safer bicycle infrastructure for several years, including championing changes on St Kilda Rd,” she said.

“Balance is achieved when consideration is given to all forms of transport. Behaviour is also important - as bike riding becomes more popular, drivers need to remain vigilant of all road users and remember to keep enough distance and be patient to help prevent incidents”.

Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce spokesperson David Dowsey said while bicycle lanes improved cyclists’ safety and may encourage people to take up cycling, a balance needed to be struck.

“One lane of traffic can transport many people, but how often do you see a banked-up car lane and next to it is a bike lane with no-one in it?” he said.

MRPV program director Adrian Furner said they were working hard to reduce disruptions and would continue to work with the local community and key stakeholders “to ensure the best outcome for this important project”.

Meanwhile, the Department of Transport is ending its pop-up bike lane trial at Armstrong St and Nelson St in South Melbourne following community concerns of safety, amenity, and aesthetic impacts. Removal works are taking place from September 19 for up to three weeks. •

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