Parkville Plan draft drawing
Bikes squeezed out at Parkville station

Bike infrastructure has been given a low priority in the planning for the street network in the vicinity of the new Parkville underground station.

Current plans show unprotected and narrow bike lanes squeezed into Grattan Street and Royal Parade.

The inadequate facilities are not acceptable for today’s volume of riders: they are hopelessly under-specified for future growth.

Melbourne Metro is a public transport project and the precinct plans show all the signs of ambitious expectations for expanded public transport above ground as well as in the tunnel.

Grattan Street seems to be designed for prodigious numbers of buses on new and expanded routes.

Massive new trams stops on the Grattan Street-Royal Parade intersection would not be out of place outside Flinders Street Station.

It is potentially good news if this public transport expansion is so fast and so successful that it rids our inner city roads of the excessive number of single occupant private vehicles.

But the problem is that the public transport dreamers have gobbled up all the road space, leaving no extra capacity for the huge volume of bikes that will soon be streaming down these streets.

And that’s just the organic growth. There will be more than that.

Take Royale Parade. Sydney Road to the north will be getting a major makeover in the next several years, boosting the route's attractiveness to riders from the north.

Just to the south of Grattan Street, the Haymarket Roundabout will inevitably be completely redesigned, making Elizabeth Street much more attractive to riders from the city.

For all of these riders the Melbourne Metro plans show a too narrow bike lane without buffering or physical separation. Hopeless.

Grattan Street gets bike lanes for the first time, but on a high bus volume street, only brave riders would use it in the proposed configuration.

All is not lost. There is still time to explore some more innovative solutions to the space constraints.

For example, the bikes lanes could be raised above road level, like they are in Copenhagen. This would provide protection from traffic while obviating the need to use 800mm wide concrete barriers.

Grattan Street has three pedestrian crossings, so speeds will be low. It is conceivable that the streets could be further traffic calmed and the bus stops re-designed so that the buses were not required to cross back and forth over the bike lane.

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