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New bike lanes on St Kilda Rd, Princes Bridge complete

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David Schout

Cyclists travelling up St Kilda Rd and into the CBD can now do so separated from cars, after kerb-high barriers were installed along the key route.

One of Victoria’s most dangerous roads for cyclists and pedestrians, the physically separated lanes on St Kilda Rd between Linlithgow Avenue and Dorcas St were completed in late November and represent a big win for locals using pedal power. 

Further north, the new lanes on Princes Bridge — the key river crossing from Southbank into the CBD — was seen as equally important from advocates. 

Cyclists have been calling for separated lanes on the iconic bridge for years as drivers, in particular taxis, have often paid little attention to the previous “painted” lanes.

The new kerb-high barriers ensure the northbound lane can be exclusively used by cyclists. 

Nik Dow from the Melbourne Bicycle User Group said the long-awaited St Kilda lanes were “a very good standout of kerbside bike lanes — world’s best practice”, in an interview with Yarra Bicycle User Group Radio.

Chief executive of fellow cycling advocacy group Bicycle Network, Alison McCormack, has previously said they had “waited an eternity for this project”.

 

Around 3500 cyclists ride along St Kilda Rd daily, and the government said cyclists were more likely to be seriously injured by car-dooring (where a driver opens their door in front of an oncoming cyclist) on St Kilda Rd than anywhere else in Melbourne.

 

“We’re building new bike lanes to physically separate drivers and cyclists to make St Kilda Rd safer for all road users,” a government spokesperson said.

“We’re improving safety for the 3500 cyclists that currently use St Kilda Rd each day by reducing the risk of car doorings and the risk of crashes.”

Successful Labor candidate for Albert Park Nina Taylor, who comfortably prevailed in the November 26 state election after replacing 15-year MP Martin Foley, was a vocal supporter of the lanes.

While the rollout on St Kilda Rd, a thoroughfare on the eastern edge of Southbank, was managed by the state government, Princes Bridge works were carried out by the City of Melbourne, and Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the upgrades were crucial.

“Princes Bridge is an iconic Melbourne attraction, in the middle of one of the busiest cycling routes in our city,” Cr Capp told Southbank News.

“We’ve been working hard to improve the roadway, undertake important waterproofing and install a new set of bluestone lane separators for the northbound bicycle lane.”

“These upgrades will help to ensure this busy thoroughfare remains safe for all road users.”

Kerbside protected bike lanes separate bike riders from motor traffic, and the physical barriers have been proven to both increase the confidence of cyclists and improve the chances of getting people on two wheels.

The council’s 10-year Transport Strategy released in 2019 — which remains its guiding document on transport matters until 2030 and was backed by an independent review in late 2021 — noted that would-be cyclists are far more likely to jump on two wheels with protected lanes.

 

A survey completed for the report found that just 22 per cent of cyclists are confident riding alongside cars on a painted bike lane, while that number rose to 83 per cent with kerb-high separation.

 

The new separated cycling lanes are part of wider works on Princes Bridge, which also include a multi-million-dollar project to repair the bridge’s iconic bluestone.

The works, which the council allocated $4.1 million to in the 2022-23 budget, include cleaning existing bluestone blocks, resetting bluestone blocks that have shifted out of alignment, and general conservation works to ensure the longevity of the bridge. •

 

Photo caption 2: A kerb-high barrier was installed in early November (Picture: Twitter @michael_of_melb)

Photo caption 1: Taxi drivers often paid little attention to the previous ‘painted’ bike lanes on Princes Bridge (Picture: Twitter @JulieMilland)

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