Bicycle Network: Metro Routes
Inner: Elizabeth St - Albert St
This will become one of the main east west commuter routes from Church St and Lennox St in Richmond to the CBD. As it develops it will attract riders off the Yarra trail at Gipps Street for a more direct route.
Elizabeth St to get upgrade
3 April 2012 City of Yarra is busy improving the bike lanes along Elizabeth Street, Richmond. This is a popular east-west route feeds into Albert Street and links to the Lennox/Nicholson route to the iminent Gipps/Clarke Street Bridge.
The exisitng bike lanes are being reconfigured with a wide chevron to help separate the vehicles out of the bike lane. This location would be ideal to introduce either vibraline or some greater form of separation given the high rider volumes that this route already enjoys.
Council has also been working on a reconfiguration at the west (in) bound approach to Hoddle Street. Currently riders have to navigate left turning vehicles across the kerb side bike lane, whilst proceeding 'straight' into Albert St. This manouvre is exacerbated by the swurved nature of the crossing. Council is looking to place the left turn kerb side and the bike lane central to the single vehicle lane on the right. This will not only help to alleviate turning movement conflicts but also allow riders and vehicles to proceed into Albert Street in parallel, not conflict.
Albert St lanes continue to grow
16 June 2011. Another section of the Albert St lanes between Powlett and Clarendon Streets, heading inbound, has now been completed (see top pic at right).
Those on bicycles or in motor vehicles will welcome this change. The incomplete nature of the route was confusing to both. Monitoring of the initial lane installation revealed car drivers were confused by 'discovering' the new road configuration at the crest of the hill at the Clarendon St intersection. Riders will welcome the separation from motor vehicles whilst cycling up the hill and the improved continuity of the lanes.
This new section was first mooted by Lord Mayor Robert Doyle last year as a possible fix. His support of this and other bike projects has been a welcome change of heart.
Riders heading outbound will have also noted the completed lane alignment approaching the Hoddle St intersection (see bottom pic at right).
Bicycle Network Victoria will continue to push for the completion of this route, specifically the inbound gap between Hoddle and Powlett Streets, Macarthur to Nicholson Streets and getting an advance signal phase at the Hoddle St intersection.
Figures in - Albert St lanes a huge success
Council monitoring has shown that the Albert St bike lanes encourage cycling and increase the capacity of the road. According to council monitoring, bicycles represent 17% of total vehicles in the morning peak.
A City of Melbourne letter to residents dated 6 Jan 2011outlining the extension of the Albert St lanes, gave a 'general update' on the lanes. The update compared cyclists and motor vehicle movements before and after the installation of the Albert St separated kerbside running bike lanes.
Inbound cyclists volumes in the am peak hour had increased 45% since the introduction of the bike lanes to 211 cyclists per hour. This represents 17 percent of total vehicle travel during the am peak hour!
Outbound cyclist volumes had increased 187 percent during the pm peak period.
These increased cyclists volumes have been achieve without adverse effect on motor vehicle volumes or travel times. This contradicts claims that the new lanes hinder people in motor vehicles. Citybound traffic volumes had varied between 1,200 and 1,350 vehicles per hour while outbound volumes had increased from approx 1,100 to 1,350 vehicles per hour.
Travel times for motor vehicles had not increased during the peak periods when clearway restrictions operate. The most significant increase in inbound travel time had occurred at approximately 10am (parking restrictions finish at 9:30am) when the average travel time has increased by less than one minute. Hardly a hardship for those travelling by car.
Adjusting to Albert
1 February 2011. As the controversial Albert Street bike lane continues to attract new riders, all the road users of this key bike route into the city continue to adjust to the innovative kerb-side bike lane arrangement.
Car drivers were the first to express exasperation at the changes, and bike riders were not unanimous in their praise.
But as the months go by and the dust settles more riders are choosing Albert Street as their preferred access from the east and the north, and drivers appear to be accommodating the new road environment.
Melbourne City Council has patiently waited out the initial stir, and continues to monitor safety and behaviour along the street where the bike lane has been installed.
Cameras have been installed at a number of locations so that complete, and unchallengeable, documentation and analysis can be undertaken.
Naturally, because of the different lay-out of streets with kerb-side bike lanes, riders can't ride on them in the same way as they would ride down the middle of a street.
Riders should also be adjusting.
Firstly, pedestrians in Albert Street are often new to the area and have never before experienced the sophistication of a Copenhagen-style bike lane. So they step out on to them, without looking. (Actually they do this in Copenhagen too, but mostly they look first.)
As a rider you have to expect this, and plan for it. Speeds have to be slower, the bike bell has to be at the finger tips, and you should be braking whenever pedestrians wander near the bike zone, just in case.
You will have also noticed that there are frequent driveways and some intersections along the route. Regular users of the driveways and local streets are now familiar with the bike lanes and generally are looking for traffic in the bike lanes. But again, not all are familiar and occasionally a vehicle will lurch into view right across your path. Again, control your speed to account for this likelihood.
And heading east there is a noticeable down hill gradient that can easily accelerate a rider above their comfortable rate, so extra care is needed.
What about the risk of dooring? As this lane is between the footpath and the parked cars the chances of a typical crash with the drivers door is impossible. But passenger doors do open, if infrequently, and although there is a 750mm buffer to the bike lane, riders should never-the-less always be alert for the possibility of a passenger door opening.
The City of Melbourne has also made some adjustments, including the removal of some parking spots to improve sight lines. And in December it decided to extend the treatment, westbound, up the hill from Powlett to Clarendon Street.
It is clear that riders have been making wise judgements while riding Albert Street, as the predicted explosion of crashes has not happened.
But with many new riders taking advantage of the warmer whether to try out commuting to the city, calm and considerate riding is the order of the day on Albert Street.
Albert Street lanes may be extended
30 September 2010. The City of Melbourne's review of the Albert Street bike lane initiative has proposed extending the lanes to improve their visibility for other road users.
A special stakeholder meeting on 24 September, called by Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, was told that extending the lanes on the South side of Albert, eastward towards Simpson Street or Powlett Street, would result in improved recognition and orientation by drivers coming up the hill.
The meeting was held to discuss the findings of the road safety audit report commissioned by VicRoads.
Present at the meeting were representatives from RACV, VicRoads, DoT, VECCI, East Melbourne Group, Master Builders Association, Bicycle Network Victoria, TWU and Victoria Police.
"The second stakeholder meeting was not intended to arrive at the final solution; it was to discuss the findings of the independent road safety review," the Lord Mayor said.
"We established that more time was required to reflect on the review and have given our stakeholders the opportunity to come back to us with further questions or information they require over the next week.
"We will then hold a third meeting with stakeholders to look at the various options and determine a way forward.
"In the meantime we will continue to monitor and assess the way the new traffic conditions are operating in Albert Street," he said.
A number of options for more changes were revealed at the Lord Mayor's meeting.
These included the lane extension proposal, narrowing the median to give more space for the lanes, moving the route to Victoria Parade, placing the lane in the conventional position along the drivers' side door, and installing physical separators such as used in Swanson Street North.
The cost of the lane extension was put at $50,000 while the options involving narrowing the median were said to be $1.5 to $1.9 million. A new path in Victoria Parade would cost $500,000, for the path, plus substantial amounts for signalling and other engineering works. The high-cost options also came with other problems, such as increased exposure to risk for riders, poor connectivity to other routes, and longer delays to traffic.
No cause for alarm on Albert Street
20 September 2010. Two new reports have hosed down panicky and negative reactions to the innovative Albert Street bike lanes, which were installed in the middle of this year.
When opened in July the lanes were subjected to a barrage of premature criticism (see below).
The lanes are part of the development of a major city access route for bikes traveling east-west to and from the city.
Judging by two new reports, most of the criticism was unfounded. The first report looks at similar lane designs overseas; the second is a VicRoads safety audit of the Albert Street project.
Because of the initial controversy, Bicycle Network Victoria commissioned Alta Planning + Design to report on the current state of practice on kerbside running bike lanes in Europe and North America.
Their report â€” A Guide to the Use of Kerbside Running Bike Lanes â€” is now available.
Alta describe kerbside running bike lanes as ‘a safe, cost-effective, practical, and proven on-road cycling solution’. Alta found ‘the increased rider comfort provided by separated bike lanes has been recognised for many years in European cities’.
The report considers the application of this type of design in Copenhagen, London, Portland Oregon, Minneapolis, Toronto and New York.
Critics had labelled the Albert Street lanes as ‘dangerous’. The Alta report shows how these lanes advantageously change the risk profile on a road. For example the high risk of a rider colliding with a driver’s door is replaced with the lesser risk of colliding with a passenger door that opens over a marked area. (Only around 10% of motor vehicles have passengers).
Initial figures from New York’s kerbside running bike lane on Grand Street show a 27% reduction in injuries to all street users. The treatment has resulted in a 29% increase in bike riders along this route.
The report recommends how the ‘new’ risks can be mitigated. Pedestrians crossing the bike lane can be alerted by painting the lane green â€” an initiative that the Council implemented in Albert Street shortly after the lanes were introduced.
The report also addressed one of the criticisms that the lanes were a waste of money, showing that while the lanes cost more than a traditional drivers side bike lane they are half the cost of the Swanston Street treatment and a third the cost of a fully separated bike path.
With this report in hand state and local governments can confidently implement these treatments, attracting significantly more people into bike riding by replacing many of the drivers’ side lanes around Australia with kerbside lanes.
A Guide to the Use of Kerbside Running Bike Lanes.
Today the City of Melbourne released a second report, prepared by Road Safety International for VicRoads, ‘Post- opening stage road safety audit Albert Street bicycle lanes, East Melbourne’.
The report concluded that the Albert Street lanes presented some new features that “may surprise some road users. It can be expected therefore that this new information may take some time to be understood and accepted by road users.”
One proposal to address this concern was that could be more consistency and continuity with the lanes, an idea that Bicycle Network Victoria believes has merit, especially if the west-bound lane was extended on the south side of Albert Street to begin at Powlett rather than Clarendon.
Another concern raised was there was a ‘medium risk’ of collision with passenger car doors. However the report apparently failed to appreciate two vital facts: not only do 90% of parking vehicles have no passengers, but also that there are no parked cars in Albert Street during peak travel times. This actually means that there will be much reduced risk of ‘dooring’ compared to a normal drivers’ side bike lane.
Overall these reports clear the way for the extension of kerbside running lanes to other streets in Melbourne and elsewhere in Australia.
The Albert Street bike lanes have been a surprise to some people, but the experience elsewhere in the world is that road users and locals adapt and after a period the lanes just become an accepted part of the everyday road user experience.
All calm on Albert Street . . . too calm
19 August 2010. Two months after the Albert Street kerbside bike lanes landed to a reaction usually reserved for aliens from outer space, calm appears to have finally settled on Melbourne newest bike lane. But don't relax just yet.
When first launched the lanes provoked an outburst of criticism: Lord Mayor Robert Doyle was ducking media haymakers as council workers battled weather to get the lanes finalised.
The early ‘education’ period is now over. During the last two months all regular users of the road have experienced the new set up and the early teething troubles are sorted out. People now know where to park their cars and the bike lane remains unobstructed.
But riders are not out of the woods yet.
Entrenched opponents of the lanes, including RACV, VECCHI and MBA continue to lobby behind the scenes to have the lanes removed. Cyclists who prefer to risk it with traffic have also written to Bicycle Network Victoria and the Mayor criticising the initiative.
There is a danger that the Mayor could be pressured into removing the lanes in order to sooth this political constituency.
We also know that many riders have adapted to the new configuration and now recognise the advantages. The Mayor needs to hear from you. Here is an email address or you can use the City of Melbourne contact form. If you have ridden on the lanes, have taken them up as one of your regular routes or just would like to see this sort of treatment more widely used, drop the Mayor a quick note so that your views can be considered in the review of the lanes. (See below).
To put the issue in context, similar projects around the world are proving successful, despite early criticism remarkably like that directed at the Albert Street lanes. New York's Grand Street was said be be "dangerous" and a "disaster waiting to happen", yet crashes came down 30 per cent.
(Robert Doyle met up with Boris Johnson and Michael Bloomberg the Mayors of London and New York City at the Copenhagen climate change conference. Both of these Mayors are keen bike riders. Bloomberg is installing Albert Street style treatments in New York.)
For more background on the thinking behind the Albert Street lanes look here and here.
The solution takes shape
On the engineering side the lanes have been tuned up in a number of ways.
The lanes are now in green from start to finish. The colour has been useful in communicating to pedestrians stepping across the lane.
‘Flexible’ candlestick markers have been installed in the chevron section. These have been useful to guide people
parking in the off peak.
Some car parks have been removed to aid communication between riders and drivers entering and exiting carparks along the route.
One section remains to be completed at the eastern end outbound past the church to Hoddle. VicRoads has the implementation of this section on hold as they are concerned about the alignment of the lanes in Elizabeth Street, Richmond, on the other side of Hoddle Street.
We have been trying to get this resolved as this section is where the bicycle-motor vehicle collisions have been in the past, and a lane in this section will be one of the important benefits of the Elizabeth / Albert Street route.
Meanwhile rider numbers on the route continue to grow along Albert Street showing once again that if you build it they will come.
Study to review Albert Street lanes
3 August 2010. Lord Mayor
Robert Doyle has commissioned a 'full review' of the recently installed bike lanes in Albert Street, East Melbourne, which have been attacked for confusing drivers.
The brief for the review, and the name of the consultants to undertake the study, is expected to be announced soon.
The Mayor's move follows complaints that drivers were bamboozled by the new arrangements in the street, planned to become a major bike route between Richmond and the city.
The Mayor called a meeting of interested parties at the Town Hall last week in an attempt to clarify the purpose of the bikes lanes, which are of a design that is new to Melbourne.
“The meeting gave us a chance to bring Albert Street's stakeholders into one room to put their concerns on the table," Mr Doyle said.
“What we agreed on is that Albert Street provides a vital cycling connection for the city; however there are some concerns that the current arrangement is not the safest or most effective design for the street.
“We were not looking for a solution from the meeting and the roundtable discussion has not replaced the independent review. It has given these stakeholders a chance to feed into the evaluation of Albert Street.
“The lines of communication have been opened and a full review of Albert Street will be undertaken immeediately.
“Following that review, we will be in a position to make informed decisions as to how the street operates in the future," the Lord Mayor said.
Bikes consorting along Albert
09 June 2010. Melbourne's newest bike infrastructure innovation, the separated kerbside lane in Albert Street, East Melbourne, has opened quietly and without the panic predicted in the media.
The new lanes required a reconfiguration of the design of the street and the fear-mongers promised chaos.
Observation of the street this week has shown that people in cars and on bikes have quickly and comfortably adjusted to the new arrangements, although, as with all changes in road conditions, some need time to adjust initially.
A last-gasp attempt to stall the project was made at Monday's council meeting by Cr. Peter Clark, who has been a mouthpiece for vested interests opposed to the lanes. His bid lapsed for lack of a seconder.
Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said this was the first time the Council had shifted the bike lane to the kerb and moved parked cars between the traffic and bike lanes.
“During peak periods (6.30-9.30am inbound and 4-6pm outbound) Albert Street will operate as a clearway with two lanes of traffic and a dedicated bike lane.
“Outside of peak periods the dedicated bike lane will remain next to the kerb and one lane of traffic may park between the bike lane and the traffic and thickly painted ridges – ‘vibra lines’ – will alert drivers that stray into bicycle paths by causing vehicles to vibrate.” the Lord Mayor said.
He said the new design was a simple innovation that would improve safety for the city’s bike riders.
“Across the city we have rolled out a number of very successful bicycle lane treatments designed to improve safety and increase connectivity for cyclists.
“Our new bicycle lanes on Albert Street show that through simple design changes it is possible to significantly improve safety for riders without disrupting other forms of city traffic.
“We established that a priority cycling route was required through East Melbourne to link the current bicycle lanes in Elizabeth Street Richmond with the CBD.
“We have already rolled out a number of similar treatments on key cycling routes including Rathdowne, Elgin and Queensberry Streets, however the design for Albert Street combines the green vibra line pavement with the Copenhagen Style bike lanes in Swanston Street.
The new bike lanes in Albert Street are 2.05 km long and cost $340,000 to install as guttering and curbing required upgrading.
A reduced speed limit of 50km/h speed limit was also be introduced in Albert Street.
The 2010/11 draft Council budget proposes to dedicate $1.1 million to bicycle lane upgrades and bike infrastructure within the City of Melbourne in the next year.
Riding into work on Albert Street, June 2010
- 360p MP4