Traders and residents unhappy as City of Port Phillip approves plans for new South Melbourne bike lane
The City of Port Phillip has faced a community backlash as it ploughs ahead with a plan to build a protected bike plan in South Melbourne.
Residents and businesses are concerned that a proposal to remove 12 parking spaces to make way for a temporary pop-up protected bike lane on Park St between Moray St and Kings Way would have a “significant impact”.
But proponent Deputy Mayor Tim Baxter argued the safety of cyclists was paramount and should not be sacrificed “for the convenience of a location of parking right outside your own dwelling.”
“One of the best ways to reduce the amount of cars that are competing for those car parks is to encourage bike riding and to keep them safe,” he said at the council’s May 4 meeting which saw councillors vote six to three in favour of the proposal.
“I do not think that it is the council’s job to ensure that everyone can park directly outside their own home. It’s literally not possible.”
“We have a very dense municipality and as we grow denser it’s honestly living in a fantasy land to expect that you can always do that.”
According to Dr Peter Bone, whose submission on the proposal was read out at the meeting, the plan “does not satisfy the concerns of petitioners”, arguing the loss of parking was an “enormous and unfair loss.”
“It’s such a scarce resource for a burdened community, particularly when it could be mitigated by implementing a more modern design,” his submission said.
The proposal comes after councillors endorsed at their meeting in September 2021 a number of routes for consideration into the Department of Transport’s (DoT) Pop-up Bike Lane program, including the temporary protected bike lane between Moray St and Kings Way.
According to DoT, the pop-up bike lanes use temporary infrastructure and would be in place for 12-18 months and will be removed, or, if successful, may be converted to permanent routes.
A council report said DoT had confirmed the inclusion of the bike lane with a funding grant estimated at $170,000 and construction scheduled between May and June this year.
Under the plans, 12 parking spaces would be removed including two childcare permit zone parking spaces on the south side near Kings Way, which the council said were redundant because the childcare was currently not active.
In addressing this impact to the community, the council said the design would be adjusted to replace four taxi-zone parking spaces with short-term public parking spaces that could also be used for long-term parking by residential permit holders.
A further six existing long-term paid parking spaces adjacent to Eastern Road Reserve would also become short-term public parking spaces that could be used for long-term parking by residential permit holders.
The council meeting also heard that it had made improved changes to the design in response to a community petition that was tabled with the council – with the possibility of an additional car park being gained as the project was delivered.
However, local business owner Davinder Bedi, who has run Bedi’s Indian Restaurant at Park St for 38 years, told Southbank News the removal of parking spaces would be “detrimental to the businesses” in the area.
Mr Bedi said while he understood bike lanes had economic benefits and reduced traffic congestion, it should not be “at our expense.”
“I’m getting no benefit from it,” he said if parking spaces were taken away for customers.
This is not just today; this has been happening for the past 30 years – they keep on reducing the hours of parking.
“My business used to have 120 people every day and now it is 20, it’s all because of this [parking], it has gradually kept on going down.”
South Melbourne resident Joe Leong urged the council to rethink the proposed design as it appeared it had planned “to go ahead with the project at all costs” and “ignoring our feedback.”
“The point is that the majority of car spaces is taken away from Park St near Kings Way and the replacement car parks are all located at the Eastern Rd end of Park St, two to three blocks away,” he told the meeting.
“We urge the council to talk to us before going ahead with a project.”
During the council debate, Cr Rhonda Clark said she could not support a proposal that would result in the “continual loss of car parks” and “ignore the significant impact this has on our residents.”
“It’s our residents who pay our rates. It’s the residents who choose to live in our municipality we support, and they expect us to look after their basic requirements,” she said.
The project also forms part of the council’s Park St Streetscape Improvement project.
New bike lane opens alongside The Tan
A new bike lane connecting the Yarra Trail and Linlithgow Avenue has opened for cyclists.
The one-way, kerb-high lane will see inbound cyclists travel between motorists on Alexandra Avenue and walkers/runners on The Tan Track.
At 2.5 metres wide, the new lane is repurposed from a nature strip between The Tan and Alexandra Avenue.
Existing trees on the nature strip will now serve as a buffer between cyclists and those on foot.
The new lane will allow inbound cyclists crossing Alexandra Avenue immediately Swan Street Bridge to move straight to a bike lane rather than onto The Tan •
Caption: Davinder Bedi, who has run Bedi’s Indian Restaurant at Park St for 38 years, said the removal of parking spaces would be “detrimental” to businesses in the area. Photo: Murray Enders.