Bicycle Network: Metro Routes
Inner: Swanston St
- Email me updates
- Melbourne City
Bicycles are part of a successful and bustling Swanston Street
Taxis hit rock bottom
3 October 2012. The menace to the bike riding public posed by Melbourne's out-of-control taxi fleet was highlighted this week when a yellow cab came to grief attempting to navigate the Swanston Street bike route.
Tens of thousands of tram passengers were delayed for hours while police, Yarra Trams officials and emergency services attempted to remove the intruder, which was blocking north-bound trams.
The cab appeared to have attempted to perform a skateboard trick along the edge bike track / tram track interface, but ended up belly down.
No vehicles are allowed in the tram stop blocks which alternate along Swanston Street.
And no cabs are supposed to be in any part of Swanston Street, unless it is a disability specific cab in the act of picking up or setting down a disabled passenger. (A temporary exception is being made for the hotel in Little Bourke during construction of the new Myer development)
Yet taxis are openly flouting the rules and flooding the street, putting riders at risk.
On weekdays, evenings and weekends illegal cab ranks are regularly formed along the street right alongside the parking signs forbidding their presence.
It is not so long ago that riders fought the battle against against tourist buses that were parking in Swanston Street despite being forbidden. It took the death of a rider to get them out.
The threat has reached its peak just as the City of Melbourne has almost completed the re-building of the street, with the opening of the final section in the RMIT precinct.
Increasing numbers of riders will be using Swanston now that works are completed and the warmer, longer days emerge.
Another key block unlocked
1 August 2012. The next stage of the Swanston Street makeover—the block from Collins to Flinders Lane— is open to bike traffic.
Retailer rush revives Swanston
11 July 2012. The progress of Swanston Street is turning heads and not only by the thousands of bikes, trams and pedestrians who flock to Swanston Street.
Now the real estate market is sitting up and taking note. The market is realising that wallets are far more likely to arrive by bike and foot along Swanston Street and the recent upgrades are helping to facilitiate this.
According to Colliers International retail manager Ben Tremellen, the improved streetscape is attracting better retial outlets and better proerty returns. "We are already getting a lot of calls inquiring about potential leases along Swanston St and other nearby parts of the CBD,'' Mr Tremellen said.
The $25.6 million upgrade to pedestrian, tram and cycling infrastructure on Swanston St will also see more leases popping up on the eastern side.
"The western side of the road has always attracted more foot traffic, but with safer access to the other side, shoppers will be more inclined to cross the street.
Currently, space leases for about $3000 a square metre on the west and $2500/sq m on the east.
"However, this gap is likely to narrow in years to come, forcing out many mum and dad operators to make way for national clothing brands and food outlets wanting to cash in on extra foot traffic,'' he said.
The full article in the Herlad Sun is available here.
Key block unlocked
2 July 2012. The next stage of the Swanston Street makeover—the block from Little Bourke Street to Bourke Street— is opened tomorrow morning for bike traffic.
Riders will again need to show care as pedestrians and tram travellers will inevitably be puzzled by the new tram stop arrangements and will wander onto the road area while getting their bearings.
Many city visitors have already experienced the similar designs at the stop outside the State Library so less confusion is expected this time around.
In addition the design has been refined and the introduction of the yellow demarcation line is expected to clarify for tram passengers where they should be waiting.
The council is emphasising that the bike lane is legally a road for bikes and that pedestrians cannot use it as a waiting area for trams.
Equally it must be stressed that bikes must stop when trams stop. These is an easy to understand rule for which there are no exceptions.
The City of Melbourne flyer is available here.
Next stop on the block
3 May 2012. The next step in the evolution of Swanstons Street starts this weekend with major tram works to renew the tram tracks and establish the foundations for a pair of accessible stops in Swanston Street between Franklin Street and A’Beckett Street.
Swanston Street will be closed from Victoria Street for the weekend.
Bike riders are advised to take alternative routes.
The City of Melbourne will continue streetscape improvement works on this section of the Swanston Street Redevelopment project with a range of improvements due for completion in September 2012.
Tram services will be changed.
More details on the disruption here.
Swanston's big squeeze begins
25 January 2012. Stage Two of the Swanston Street redesign project is about to start and it will be six months of pain as riding becomes impossible on Melbourne busiest bike street.
The redevelopment starts on 3 February and the street will be effectively blocked to through traffic. Bikes will have to be walked through the construction zones.
The works will be carried out in two locations; between Flinders Lane and Collins Street and between Bourke and Little Bourke Streets.
Riding on tram tracks or on the footpath would be folly. Not only could this bring down the wrath of the law, but law-breaking riders could find themselves facing additional difficulties in the event of a collision.
Elsewhere along the street, road rules continue to apply. Riders must obey traffic signals and give way to passengers boarding or alighting trams.
Regular rider travelling through the city should seek out other route options in order to avoid congestion and delay.
According to the City of Melbourne, since the first upgraded location was completed outside the State Library and Melbourne Central in November last year, it has been impressed with the patience and courtesy bike riders have demonstrated to pedestrians getting familiar with the new design.
There are a number of permanent changes to access to the street, which will remain in place after the works are completed.
This will in the long term, improve the experience of riders along the street, especially in peak periods.
Taxis, unless authorised, will not be permitted access to Swanston Street between Flinders Street and La Trobe Street, nor between A’Beckett Street and Franklin Street.
Authorised taxis, which must be wheelchair accessible, will be able to access Swanston Street during permitted access times to drop off or pick up a passenger with a disability.
Delivery vehicle access will be limited to authorised vehicles only, which will be able to access and park in signed areas for a maximum period of 30 minutes, seven days per week.
Permitted access times will be 9.30am to 12pm, 2pm to 4pm, and from 7pm to 7.30am. Access to Swanston Street won’t be permitted outside these times.
For more details see this pdf.
Pre-welding and preparation of lengths of tram rail will be carried out nightly from Sunday 29th January until Friday 3rd February, between 9.00PM to 6.00AM. The works will take place in two locations on the eastern side of Swanston Street - between Flinders Street and Flinders Lane (in front of St Paul’s Cathedral) and between Little Bourke Street and Lonsdale Street.
Approximately 100 metres of the southbound kerbside lane will be fenced off to allow for the lengths of rail to be welded and moved safely.
Major tram track works
Significant dust and noise will be produced as concrete saw cutting teams move along the worksite from February 4. Heavy excavators will start to break the road surface to allow for the removal of the existing tram tracks.
This work is very noisy and dusty and will continue throughout Saturday until approximately 6.00PM. Once the old tracks have been removed, construction of the new tracks and accessible stops will begin.
Tram track works are scheduled to be completed by approximately 5.00AM on Monday 6th February.
The entire $25.6M redevelopment project will be completed by the end of 2012.
The project focuses on four locations – outside the City Square, Bourke Street Mall, State Library and Franklin Street/RMIT. Each location will include the following designed improvements:
- universally-accessible tram stops
- paving and kerb design to support safer cycling
- new lighting
- new street furniture
- bluestone paving.
Stage One, State Library, was completed in November 2011.
Stay behind the yellow line!
30 November 2011. Absent-minded pedestrians have been given a reminder about straying onto the bike path at the new Swanston Street tram stops.
As the City of Melbourne fine-tunes the design and adds the finishing touches, a yellow line has appeared with the aim of alerting pedestrians to stay comfortably away from the passing bike traffic.
And to make matters doubly clear, new bike logos have been stencilled on to the bike lane in front of the tram stop.
In an innovative 90 degree twist, these logos face the pedestrians rather than the traffic.
Since the opening the block-length new design, the first of four such blocks, there has been concern that tram passengers would unthinkingly meander along the bike path while waiting at the stop.
Although no collisions or conflict have been reported, the additional measures have been taken so we all understand out place in the world.
Smooth launch for Swanston
28 November 2011. The first stage of the new car-free Swanston Street went live on Moday with nary a hitch.
City of Melbourne contractors miraculously completed the final touches on the block between Latrobe and Little Lonsdale Streets in time for the first commuters to roll their bikes through.
The new arrangements seemed to surprise some commuters on foot and bike, but they seemed to quickly work out who belonged where. There will surely be some uncertainty in through the coming weeks as people ajust, but overall the City of Melbourne should be feeling pleased with itself.
There was a time when each new piece of civic infrastructure with provision for bikes would be greated with howls of mock outrage. The calm that surrounds this opening may signal that a new maturity is at large in the city.
Swanston Street unplugged
23 November 2011. The first stage of the new car-free Swanston Street goes live next Monday.
City of Melbourne contractors are going hammer and tongs to get the final stones laid and street furniture aligned on the block between Latrobe and Little Lonsdale Streets.
From Monday morning the whole block will be a stage on which the new dance of bikes, pedestrians and trams will receive its premiere performance.
First day nerves are expected as the dramatis personae steer their way through the new, initially strange, streetscape.
But the uncertainty should not last for long. The new layout provides a clearly delineated path for bike riders free from the risk of parked vehicles.
Some road users will inevitably be bamboozled and may loose the plot. Riders should be on the lookout for pedestrians who have missed their cue and enter unexpectedly from stage left.
For their part bike riders will have to strictly adhere to the playright's directions regarding stopping behind trams at tram stops: stop before passing the rear of the tram; don't proceed if the tram doors are open or a pedestrian is entering or crossing the road between the tram tracks and the far left side of the road; and if the coast is clear and the doors are closed, trundle through at no more than 10 kilometres per hour.
Riders should remain alert to the reality that the remainder of Swanston Street, with its many risks and vehicles, will stay as it is until next year.
Two more blocksâ€”Bourke Street to Little Bourke and Collins Street to Flinders Laneâ€”will get the same treatment, starting on 3 February 2012. Another (less elaborate) Super-Stop will be built in the Franklin to A'Beckett Street block starting 20 April 2012.
There will be on-going construction along the street until about October 2012.
It is important to note that other changes to street management will also take place from February, with new access rules for delivery vans and taxis. (The whole street will not actually be totally car free.)
Bicycle Network Victoria will bring you all the details early next year.
Count shows transformation timely
30 May 2011. A 24 hour count on the eve of the massive Swanston Street transformation has confirmed the remarkable popularity of the street with bike riders.
About 4412 riders cruised the street in a 24 hour period one day in March. This compares to 2400 riders counted over 24 hours in 2003, the last time a 24 hour count was done.
This amounts to an 84% increase in traffic over the eight year period.
The data shows that redesign of the street this year is not a day too soon. The new street arrangement is vastly superior in catering for public transport, pedestrian and bike travellers.
Swanston, linking with St.Kilda Road and the Main Yarra Trail in the south, and to the university precinct in the north, is Australia's busiest bike street.
The growth is remarkable given that commercial vehicle parking has been permitted in the street, creating conflict and risk.
Bicycle Network Victoria undertook the count to establish a baseline for rider numbers prior to the makeover of the major transport spine, which starts this weekend.
The most recent count was made by filming all traffic at the Collins and Swanston Street intersections, and then counting the bikes on playback.
The count data shows that more people ride southbound in the morning and northbound in the evening.
The peak period clusters clearly show its popularity with commuters. (see graph; click on it to see high resolution version).
Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said this week that he was setting ambitious targets for increasing bike travel to the cityâ€”a 50 per cent annual growth. He wants to hit 10,000 bikes daily into the city within two years.
Bicycle Network Victoria CEO, Harry Barber said that Melbourne's leaders had realised that in order to maintain its strong economic performance the city had to reduce congestion and improve access to the people who used the city.
"The Swanston Street development is the first step in a new phase of city transformation that will greatly improve the amenity and access.
"Bikes and public transport priority will improve Melbourne's access and amenity enormously, boosting commerce and retailing while other Australian capitals choke on congestion," Mr Barber said.
Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said the ambitious project would ensure Swanston Street’s place as one of the city’s great streets.
“We’ve been planning for the redevelopment of Swanston Street since February last year and I’m pleased that we are transforming it into the great civic space of Melbourne for the future.
“It’s taken us a while to get here but in a year’s time we’ll be looking out on a completely different Swanston Street. A street that will be one of the great boulevards of the world.”
Works to block street
Riders should realize that the project involves intensive engineering and building works as the tram tracks and street is realigned.
Although Swanston Street remains open to bikes during the project, the works zones will be closed off, requiring riders to walk their bikes around the construction areas.
Swanston rebirth looms
5 May 2011. The long-stalled redevelopment of Swanston Street is about to start.
The Lord Mayor Robert Doyle announced that the controversialâ€”but inevitableâ€”reshaping of the street to improve life for shoppers, riders and tram passengers will get rolling in two weeks.
The project involves lowering the level of the tram tracks, installing bike lanes and delineating the space for pedestrians, bikes and trams.
Cars, trucks and buses are excluded, except for emergency vehicles.
The $25.6M project will be done in stages over a number of years, starting at LaTrobe Street.
Four massive trams stops will be built along Swanston where the footpath will extend across the road and the bike path will rise to the same level.
The first stage will start at the intersection of LaTrobe and Little Lonsdale Streets with work to lower the tram tracks starting on the night of 20 May.
The first site for works will be located between Latrobe and Lt Lonsdale Streets due for completion at the end of 2011.
Cyclists will have 24 hour access to Swanston Street, except between Latrobe Street to Little Lonsdale Street where cyclist will need to walk their bikes along the footpath during stage 1.
The tram track lowering for the whole of the first block will be completed on the first weekend. Then the council contractors will work on the rest of the construction in the block.
Yarra Trams will also relay the tracks at the Bourke and Swanston intersection on the same weekend, taking advantage of the street closure.
Trams and bus services will be changed and re-routed at the weekend
For more information relating to the project.
Zebra tracks for Swanston Street
27 January 2010. The final plan for the new Swanston Street, released today, will have a 2m wide ‘designated bike space’ indicated by zebra-crossing style stripes of black and white stone.
The plan, which has been endorsed by the full Council as expected, will trigger a major upgrade of Swanston Street through the construction of four block length bicycle, pedestrian and tram zones.
In these zones footpath kerbs will be extended to the edge of the tram lines where the trams will run in a lowered section of road.
Construction will take place over the next three years outside RMIT at Franklin Street near the City Baths, the State Library, and south of Bourke and Collins Streets, extending the car-free section of the street a further block to the north.
Private motor vehicles will be banned from the four sections and over the two years of the proposed construction other users such as service vehicles, Night Rider buses, taxis and horse drawn carriages will be relocated.
The final stage of the project scheduled for 2013 will be to infill the sections of Swanston Street between the four initial sites.
Bicycle Network Victoria supports the physical concepts in the proposal as well as the changes to the rules in the use of the street. The Councils media release is here and the full report (careful - a massive 70M download) is here.
The details of this project will be monitored closely. For example riders will want to be assured that the surface roughness of the stone used in the bike space is appropriate.
If this approach is judged successful it is likely that it would be replicated in other locations with high pedestrian, tram and bicycle use.
The adoption of this project would mark the end of Bicycle Network Victoria's most recent campaign to secure a high quality, high volume bike route along Swanston Street.
This particular campaign was triggered by the election in December 2008 of Lord Mayor Robert Doyle who promised before his election to reintroduce private motor vehicles into Swanston Street. This proposal met with strong opposition from the wider community and from bike riders in particular. A great job was done by all our members who wrote in support of bike access to the Street and participated in the public forums and consultations.
Today the Lord Mayor said that Swanston Street had been his ‘road to Damascus’ and that ‘he had seen the light.’
At the press conference the Lord Mayor said ‘No city in the world wants to bring more cars into its centre.’ And noted that ‘there has been a huge increase in people cycling into the city’.
Swanston Street design options revealed
22 October 2009. Today the Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, released four conceptual design options for what he called the ‘rebirth’ of Swanston Street.
A full assessment of the options and the role bikes will have in the street must await a detailed evaluation, but a quick review shows that Option C, called the 'Orleans' option, is highly promising.
It relies on a clear delineation of spaces for trams, bikes and pedestrians.
Readers may remember that in the last round the Council picked Option 6 – one of the options that removed private motor vehicles from the street.
The next stepâ€”which the Lord Mayor outlined todayâ€”is for the Council to decide which variation on Option 6 it prefers.
Two of the options have a distinct platform for tram passengers with the bike route between the platform and the street trees. The other two options show the tram passenger shelters under the street trees and indicate a zone to be used in one direction by bike riders and vehicles and crossed by tram passengers.
The Lord Mayor was adamant that private motor vehicles would be banned from the street under all the options: "We want to give the street to the people who use it most," he said and referred specifically to tram passengers, pedestrians and bike riders "who are growing year by year".
The plan is to for Council to pick the preferred option in December and begin construction of the State Library block between LaTrobe and Little Lonsdale in 2010.
Crossed wires makes riders cross [updated]
6 October 2009. A lengthy investigation has revealed the cause of the bizarre re-sequencing of the bike signals outside Flinders Street Station: it was crossed wires apparently.
VicRoads, which coordinates the signals, believes it has traced the cause of the mix-up to a wiring fault.
Bike riders have been assured that the previous sequencing will be restored as soon as possible.
It was originally suspected that the changes had resulted from a failed attempt to fine tune the lights at the busy crossing.
A source at Melbourne City Council has provided an alternative version.
The changes were well intentioned, in that they were responding to concerns that pedestrians were at danger of being struck by cyclists as cyclists had a green light up until the instant before the pedestrian walk is displayed.
To eliminate this problem they disconnected the bicycle display at the pedestrian crossing. Unfortunately the changes have led to a frustrating long delay for cyclists, which is compounded by cars now storing at the stop line at the same time as 15 to 20 cyclists are waiting at this location.
This then creates merging and safety problems for motorists and cyclists as some motorists attempt to enter the kerbside lane to turn left into Flinders Street.
VicRoads are now reprogramming the controller to allow the bicycle display to run during the two phases that allows tram, pedestrian and vehicle movements to move out of Swanston Street (south).
This job should be completed within the next week or so and should alleviate all pedestrian and cyclist concerns.
In the dark over lights change
23 September 2009. There has been a puzzling change to the bike traffic signal sequencing outside Flinders Street station, and so far no-one is owning up to the bungle.
Suddenly, without explanation, the long-proven sequence at the complicated intersection was re-programmed, confusing pedestrians and drivers, and creating a hazard for riders on what was previously a predictable if busy crossing point.
Riders immediately deluged our office with reports on the morning the changes were first noticed, pointing out the problems with the new sequence and predicting that the risks of collisions would increase.
Bicycle Network Victoria contacted VicRoads and the City of Melbourne, hoping to find out what had happened. Why was the change made? By whom? Was it permanent? Had the problems been anticipated or where they an unintended consequence? What steps were being taken to correct the problem?
Now, many days later, there has yet to be any response.
The signals are still stuck on their inexplicable sequence.
This week the problems escalated when a member of the Victorian Police Bicycle Squad was 'nearly cleaned up' at the crossing.
Maybe this incident will focus some attention on the problem.
Cars out, bikes in for new Swanston spine
1 July 2009. The community has spoken and the direction of the Swanston Street redevelopment is clear: cars are demoted and bikes, trams and pedestrians are promoted.
Melbourne City's extensive consultation on the future of Swanston Street has concluded with a resounding win for Melbourne's bike community, which rebelled against a last-minute political play to force bikes out of the CBD's primary bike route.
At its 30 June meeting the council received a report on the public consultations which showed that the community overwhelmingly supported the bike-accommodating Option 6, or variations on itâ€”â€”the same option backed by Bicycle Network Victoria and Melbourne's bike fraternity.
An inter-agency steering group will now be established to pursue the principle design directions outlined in Option 6.
This option effectively removes motor vehicles from the street, dedicates a lane to bikes, and widens footpaths. It advocates improving the safety and speed of tram services through faster boarding via raised platforms and removing the conflicts between people boarding trams and vehicles trying to pass trams.
According to the report, people wanted a Swanston Street which was safe and encouraged sustainable transport.
The council will now undertake parking and traffic studies, pedestrian counts, freight options and concept plans.
Its 2009/10 draft budget includes the provision of $500,000 for the development of schematic design and documentation.
United front on bikes in Swanston
8 May 2009. Victoria's major transport interest groups have combined to oppose moves to shut bikes out of Swanston Street.
The groups have joined Bicycle Network Victoria in arguing for enhanced facilities for bikes, public transport and pedestrians in the street, with motor traffic kept out.
The text of the joint statement to the City of Melbourne review:
Swanston St closed to through traffic
Swanston Street should have no through traffic, improved pedestrian access
to trams and bicycle lanes, according to the Road User Collaborative, which
has considered the seven redevelopment plans put forward by the City of
The Road User Collaborative is made up of the key transport stakeholders
including RACV, Bicycle Network Victoria, Victorian Transport Association, Yarra
Trams, the Bus Association of Victoria, Victorian Motorcyclists Union,
Connex Melbourne, and the Victorian Taxi Association.
RACV’s general manager public policy Brian Negus said none of the seven
design options that were suggested to redevelop Swanston Street, between
Flinders Street and Franklin Street provided the ideal outcome.
“The closest option put forward by the City of Melbourne to achieve these
outcomes is Option Six but we are suggesting that there needs to be better
separation for cyclists and fully accessible tram stops incorporated as well
as considerable enhancement to urban design, streetscape and local
businesses,” Mr Negus said.
The Road User Collaborative has suggested that a redeveloped Swanston Street
• Be a street mall dedicated to shopping, entertainment and dining.
Pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users should be encouraged and
all through traffic prohibited.
• Only allow deliveries after hours, with limited designated times during
the day to serve immediate businesses such as restaurants.
• Only have wheelchair accessible taxis that have permits and only when
picking up or setting down wheelchair-bound passengers should be allowed.
Provision to be made for other taxis in appropriate intersecting streets.
• Maintain access for the Nightrider bus service as well as limited permit
access for tourist buses picking up or setting down passengers at hotels,
but review these arrangements in future.
Mr Negus said the Road User Collaborative believed that modifying Swanston
Street would also create the opportunity develop a Central Melbourne City
“With Bourke Street already a proper mall, with no through traffic, the Road
User Collaborative believes there is a strong case to broaden the mall
concept to two neighbouring streets that carry high amounts of pedestrians,
public transport users and cyclists,” he said.
“These streets are Swanston Street, with the treatment outlined above, and
Elizabeth Street between Bourke and Flinders Street with the same approach.
“The Central Melbourne City Mall precinct encompassing these three streets
would enhance central Melbourne for the benefit of the entire community and
especially for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users,” Mr Negus
Swanston Street: last call for input
7 May 2009. Bicycle Network Victoria has made its formal submission to the Swanston Street consultation, and so should you: submissions close tomorrow, Friday 8 May.
According to the City of Melbourne there has been a massive response to its seven options on the future of the street, and bike riders have made their position on Option 7 (bikes locked out) very clear.
During the consultation period Bicycle Network Victoria has analysed the options closely in conjunction with other key transport interests, with a view to arriving at a powerful, common position.
Those involved in discussions have included the RACV, Victorian Transport Association, Yarra Trams, Connex Melbourne, Victorian Taxi Association, Victorian Motorcyclists Union and the Bus Association of Victoria.
A united position has been reached and will be announced publicly soon. Details will appear on this page at that time.
Essentially, Bicycle Network Victoria has favoured Option 6, with modifications.
Clearly there is no reason for motor traffic in Swanston Street. The street is in reality a (mostly) car-free shopping precinct with a strong public transit and bike component.
Deliveries and servicing during peak business and transport hours conflicts with the purpose of the street and should be time restricted and time allocated.
Taxis are not required in the street because of easy availability nearby. Only wheelchair accessible taxis under strict conditions should be permitted. Strict controls on buses should be continued.
Finally, a workable level of separation for bike traffic is essential.
Modifying Swanston Street will create the opportunity for expanding on the success of the Bourke Street Mall and open the way for similar improvements to Elizabeth Street.
Bus move completed
24 April 2009. During this week a number of coaches loading passengers in Swanston Street or preparing to load have been moved on by the City of Melbourne. This is to be expected as the coach operators and drivers learn the new rules and realise that the City is serious about moving them out of Swanston Street. Regular riders might like to take a note with time, location and number plates of any coaches that you see loading in Swanston Street. IF you see a particular vehicle or the same company appears in the same place on more than one occasion send us a message with that information and we will ask the City to follow it up with the operator.
22 April 2009. The harrowing morning peak hour squeeze between the trams and the tourist buses is now history, following the successful relocation of the buses to the Federation Square precinct.
Swanston Street is now largely free-flowing for bike commuters, and showing again that with the right management this route is a great option for riding into and through the central activities district.
It is paradoxical that at the very time the potential of the street as a bike route is again highlighted, Melbourne City is contemplating shutting it off to riders. (Make sure you have your say on the future of Swanston Street. Here is the online consultation form)
Now that the bus problem has abated other issues are more obvious and require attention.
Service and delivery vehicles are essential to the businesses along the street, however their presence in peak hour, when loading and unloading is obstructing riders, must be questioned.
And taxi drivers parked near the Cathedral appear to have colonized the bike lane as a rest and recreation promenade, forcing riders into the path of trams.
As plans for the future of Swanston Street are debated, with any changes some time in the future, day-to-day management of the road space should not be neglected.
Time for riders to speak out
9 April 2009. It is time for riders to speak out against the bike ban and for a better Swanston Street. The 'consultation' period has now begun on the seven options that have been put forward by the Council for public consideration.
We didn't like the way Option 7 the bike ban option was added at the last minute. (Read our view on the process).
Whether we like it or not, a bike ban is now a possibility. We are asking riders to respond to the consultation in two ways:
Please oppose the Option 7 bike ban. (Read our detailed view on this option.)
Please support one of the other Options. They all include a dedicated bike lane. Some however bring motor vehicle traffic back and one - Option 6 - turns the street into a bike, tram and pedestrian only street. We will be supporting Option 6.
We have put together a page that has our view on the left and the Council documents on the right. We suggest you read this before having your say.
If you know your view now, here is the Melbourne City online consultation form
Council loses focus on Swanston future
24 March 2009. The City of Melbourne has thrown seven options into the air as it begins to plan the redevelopment of Swanston Street. Incredibly, one option is to ban bikes.
The City originally developed six options to put to the Council meeting on March 31. But moments before a press conference to announce the redevelopment concept, the seventh 'nuclear' optionâ€”no bikes in the streetâ€”was added.
Bicycle Network Victoria is mystified how the 'no-bikes' option came to be added to the review without any supporting documentation, data or analysis. No rationale for the option was proffered.
Bicycle Network Victoria was involved in consultation during January and February and this option was not evaluated at that time.
Bike riders' confidence in the Council's ability to manage this complex issue is being severely tested.
A complex network of bike commuter routes to the city has evolved in recent years to make Swanston Street Australia's busiest on-road bike thoroughfare. The clock cannot be turned back.
All the evidence available to the Council would suggest that rather than resist that momentum, and shut bikes out, the Council should continue to improve the design of Swanston Street for the three main user categories â€” trams, bikes and pedestrians.
The original six options contain some strong ideas that are worth persisting with.
Deal done on Swanston Street tour buses
26 February 2009. Following protracted negotiations Federation Square management and the tour bus operators have reached agreement and the buses will be out of Swanston Street at the beginning of April.
They will now be based adjacent to the Russell Street extension. Bicycle Network Victoria CEO Harry Barber welcomed the move: "The bike riding community appreciates that the City of Melbourne has honoured its commitment to free Swanston Street of the tourist coaches', he said.
"This was a complex and difficult problem to resolve and took great persistence by the council and the other parties to achieve this final, satisfactory result.
"The new facility in the Federation Square precinct can be operating by the beginning of April, which is critically important.
"The other locations suggested as alternatives were not practicable or achievable in the time available.
"The way is now clear for city businesses to plan with confidence and maximise the opportunities created by this move.
"Bike riders are to be congratulated for the enthusiasm and fairness with which they pursued this campaign for Swanston Street to its conclusion."
Swanston Street Ultimatum on buses
17 December 2008. New Lord Mayor Robert Doyle has given tour bus operators a March 31 deadline to quit the street.
At its first meeting this week the new Melbourne City Council threatened to banish the buses to the Siberia of Southern Cross Station if they could not reach a deal to make their home at Federation Square.
At its meeting on Tuesday 30 September 2008 the previous Council requested the City of Melbourne administration and tour bus operators work with Federation Square Management to permanently relocate the tourist buses to Federation Square.
Federation Square will continue to be explored because of its close links to Flinders Street Station, its safety level and because it provides ready access for tourists to events, cafes and restaurants at Federation Square and to Melbourne’s world-class tourist attractions, Lord Mayor Doyle said.
The City of Melbourne has sought to undertake a series of traffic alterations and infrastructure works in Flinders Street adjacent to Federation Square – however, negotiations to secure the site and the complex infrastructure works have continued to delay the project.
"The purpose-built bus terminus at Southern Cross Station will also now be considered as a new and very viable option," the Lord Mayor said.
"Melbourne’s city centre is continually shifting as Docklands continues to develop and grow into one the city’s most vibrant precinctsâ€”and Southern Cross Station is already considered a ‘transport hub’ for tourists visiting from Victoria, interstate and overseas."
"The City of Melbourne will work closely with the tour bus operators to expedite the relocation process, to ensure the 31 March deadline is met and to assist them in mitigating any impact on their business or customers," he said.
Swanston Street tourist buses to linger longer
19 November 2008. The plan to move the tourist buses out of Swanston Street next week has struck a hurdle and faces further lengthy delays.
The buses are to move to Federation Square but the date of the move is now up in the air.
The commercial entity that runs Federation Square, Federation Square Pty Ltd, has apparently agreed to host the tourist base and the buses, yet the agreement has still to be finalised only days from the proposed move date on November 24, which can no longer be met.
Negotiations between the bus operators and Federation Square will continue over the next few weeks.
The parties are remaining tight-lipped on the sticking point in the negotiations.
As soon as agreement is reached, Melbourne City will embark on a series of traffic alterations and infrastructure works in Flinders Street. The kerb in Flinders Street will be indented for bus parking and changes to tram pole positions will be required
Whether these changes will have an impact on bike riders and bike parking in Flinders Street is yet to be revealed.
The City is still developing a schedule for the works, so a date for the bus move from Swanston Street is still not known. But the complexity of the infrastructure works, and the slow pace of negotiations, seems to indicate that a date several months into 2009 in most likely.
The Federation Square location is favoured by the Council and the bus operators because of its proximity to Flinders Street station, safety factors, and access to facilities for tourists.
Bus relocation switches direction
3 October 2008. The City of Melbourne has switched its preferred temporary tourist bus relocation site to Federation Square.
Previously it had announced a move to St Kilda Road, across from the Arts Centre. Now, subject to agreement from Federation Square management, the Russell Street Extension will be the new home.
There will be no change to the deadline on the move date.
The latest council statement:
The City of Melbourne, in partnership with tour bus companies and Federation Square management, will work together to determine if the Russell Street extension (at the rear of Federation Square) is a feasible location for tour bus parking in the CBD.
At its meeting on Tuesday 30 September 2008, Council requested the City of Melbourne administration and tour bus operators prepare a business case within two weeks for Federation Square management’s consideration.
Council agreed that subject to negotiations with Federation Square management, the City of Melbourne and the bus companies would progress planning towards relocating to the western side of Russell Street between La Trobe and Victoria Streets (adjacent to the Old Melbourne Gaol) as a fall-back position.
The previously imposed eight-week relocation period remains, all buses will be moved from Swanston Street to an agreed location by 24 November 2008.
The agreed interim location will remain in place until the completion of the Southern Cross 2 Tower building in Bourke Street where the buses will have a permanent facility, in line with the July 2007 Planning Committee resolution. It is anticipated the Southern Cross 2 Tower development will be completed by mid 2009
Swanston Street bus bloat to linger eight weeks
23 September 2008. The decision to finally rid Swanston Street of the tour buses was rapid, but regrettably, the execution will be prolonged.
Lord Mayor John So has now publicly committed to the move (see release below), but not until November 24.
Although this is far from ideal, it seems to be the best that the Council can achieve, given the complexity of the issue.
The key will be the quality of the traffic management during the next two months.
Since last year the buses have supposedly been subject to a traffic management plan designed to control their movements and reduce risks to bike riders. We understand that there is evidence that suggests that this protocol was flouted.
The Council and the bus operators cannot afford to be anything less than stringent in the management of the buses during the wait until the move to St Kilda Road.
Furthermore, it is time that the Council took a good, hard look at the commercial vehicle parking along Swanston in peak periods. As many riders can attest these vehicles have been increasingly hazardous to navigate through, and have significantly contributed to the Swanston Street anxiety.
The possibility of a peak hour cleaway zone should be put on the table for consideration.
Statement from Lord Mayor John So:
Swanston Street tour buses to be relocated by November 24
“The City of Melbourne today met with Melbourne’s tour bus operators to establish a date by which they will move from Swanston Street to an alternate CBD location.
It was agreed by 24 November that Melbourne’s tour bus terminal will temporarily relocate to the east side of St Kilda Road, south of Princes Bridge (adjacent to Alexandra Gardens).
This interim measure will remain in place until the completion of the Southern Cross 2 Tower building in Bourke Street where the buses will have a permanent facility, in line with the July 2007 Planning Committee resolution. It is anticipated the Southern Cross 2 Tower development will be completed by mid 2009.
Under the conditions of the tourist bus permit arrangements, the City of Melbourne was obligated to give operators a practical timeframe within which to move from Swanston Street or make alternate arrangements.
Tour bus operators today agreed to the eight week period and were also given the opportunity to propose an alternative location to the St Kilda Road terminus. The City of Melbourne will consider any alternate proposals put forward by the bus companies, providing these meet all safety requirements and can be implemented and fully operational within the imposed eight-week timeframe.
The City of Melbourne will work closely with the tour bus operators to expedite the relocation process and to assist them in mitigating any impact on their business or customers as a result of the stops being moved.
Council will consider a report at its meeting next Tuesday 30 September, proposing a number of measures to assist this process including: constructing a temporary kiosk and toilet facilities at the interim St Kilda Road site, providing necessary signage to redirect customers from Swanston Street to St Kilda Road, and providing financial assistance to produce new marketing materials and updating customer information.
Coaches to move
19 September 08
The Melbourne City Council's Chief Executive Officer Kathy Alexander has given notice to the coaches that use Swanston Street that after "a reasonable notice period" they will have to move the base of operations to St Kilda Road, opposite the Arts Centre.
We have reviewed this section of road and recommended some changes to the City Council to facilitate rider movements past the new drop off zone.
19 September 08
The coach company involved in yesterday’s incident called this morning to express its regret and sadness at the incident yesterday and asked us to pass that on to the bike riding community.
It was disappointing to hear that company had decided to close down their call centre as they had received many abusive phone calls from people who identified themselves as cyclists and called the call centre staff ‘murderers’ and similar.
Neither Bicycle Network Victoria nor the coach company think that Bicycle Network Victoria members made these calls. Since they have occurred we want to say why we think these calls are inappropriate in this other similar situations.
First it is a rush to judgement. We need to wait for the Coroner’s report before we can understand what occurred. Sometimes even the Coroner struggles to piece the story together. The legal system will follow up if someone has broken the traffic regulations. We can watch this process to ensure that it is thorough and appropriate.
Second it is understandable but thoughtless to phone up and abuse people when you are upset. Opinions and emotions, we believe should be put in writing and as much as possible expressed in temperate language.
Third the response is disproportionate. This is not a case of a drink driving, hit and run. It is very sad and very unfortunate. What is even more upsetting is that it was preventable. But the coach company and staff are not ‘murderers’.
Fourth it undermines the culture we are trying to build around bike riding.
As riders we don’t like to be abused – we are legitimate road users. We recognise that not every rider all the time follows the rules or rides sensibly. We don’t like it when all bike riders are criticised when one person does something stupid or careless.
If that is how we want people to view us, then that is how we should view others.
I am sure members will agree with these views.
18 September 08 This morning a rider was killed in a collision that involved a coach as she rode south along Swanston St. A number of riders gathered at the site this evening in memory of her.
This is a very sad incident and we have been working today to see what we can do to prevent it happening again.
As you can see below there was an agreement struck with the coach operators in July last year. This included a traffic management plan not to store buses on Swanston but to use a just in time system that radioed a coach in to load. The plan included a commitment to move to the Southern Cross tower in Bourke Street when it was completed. Unfortunately this move to Bourke Street did not occur soon enough to prevent the fatal collision today.
We have asked the City Council to move the buses out of Swanston Street to an interim location until their new base is ready. We will report on their response.
We will also ask for the lane to be remarked past the Arts Centre near Princes Bridge where the lane is marked under a bus parking bay.
Riders may be wondering about the risk of using Swanston Street and the chance of being in a fatal collision while riding a bike. The TAC publish data on their Road Safety website.
For the first six months of this year there had been no fatalities in Victoria. However up until today there have been four, including the woman who was killed today. Last year six people were killed while riding their bikes and fourteen in 2006. The five year average is 8.
There are collisions from time to time on Swanston Street as there are many users. In general these have been more likely in the section from Princes Bridge to Flinders Street. This is one reason the bike lanes have been marked out in green.
However you might rate the route today, it will be better without the coaches.
Melbourne's cycling spine to flow
Jul 07 Melbourne City Council have resolved to move coaches from Swanston St to a new home on Bourke St. This is a great win for cyclists.
Riders should notice an immediate improvement as Council will develop an interim traffic management plan, in conjunction with the Tour Bus operators that limits the number of buses that use the current Swanston location at any one time, thereby improving the conditions for cyclists
Longer term Melbourne City Council will permanently relocate the tour bus stops to Bourke Street, south side, immediately west of Exhibition Street, adjacent to the Southern Cross 2 tower buildings, following completion of the second tower in approximately two years.
There has been a steady increase in the volume of cyclists using Swanston Street. The number of cyclists travelling north and south along Swanston Street, in 1999 between 7am and 7pm was 1,294. The same count performed in April this year (after the end of daylight savings) indicated 2,585 bicycles using Swanston Street, between Lt Bourke St and Bourke St.
You can thank them by email here
MCC votes to find a new home for Swanston St Coaches
Apr 07 Melbourne City Council voted unanimously to investigate a new location for the coaches that currently cause major problems for all users along Swanston St.
Swanston St carries the highest number of riders in Melbourne, making it the city's cycling spine, with a growth rate of 700% over the last 15 years. Carrying over 1,400 bikes in the 7-9am peak (that is an average of a bike every 5 seconds) and one tram per minute, there is a pressing need for adequate space for freely-flowing traffic.
Coaches also cause problems for trams and pedestrians due to the crowded roadspace and lack of clear sightlines. Yarra Trams have expressed their support for an alternate location.
We believe there are a number of alternate locations that could satisfy all stakeholders needs, making Swanston St a safer riding experience and help make Melbourne an even more attractive city to ride in.
Swanston Street has become a commercial vehicle carpark
Mar 07 Currently Swanston St is ugly. It is crowded most hours by commercial vehicle parking and tour buses. Pedestrians on the footpath are hemmed in by the large vehicles and their sightlines are obscured when crossing the road.
Cyclists are forced onto the tram tracks as they can't fit between the parked vehicles and the trams. Parking restrictions are not enforced and private vehicles flout the traffic management restrictions. The reintroduction of private motor vehicles would be a step backwards, not forward.
A first step would be to enforce the current restrictions on vehicle access and parking. The next step would be to find an alternative space for tour buses to park. Flinders St or opposite the Arts Centre are two options.
Tour buses and trucks should not be allowed to park on the city's spine. They blight the streetscape and obscure views to the Cathedral and the Shrine.
2004 Bicycles are part of a successful and bustling Swanston St. All around the world friendly, bustling streets like Swanston St are successful because they attract more people, who stay longer and spend more.
Trams, pedestrians and cyclists help make Swanston a successful street with a unique Melbourne flavour.
In 2003 the City of Melbourne considered changes to Swanston St - including reintroduction of cars and tram super stops. Bicycle Network Victoria prepared a position paper on the issue.