Motor vehicle trips into central Melbourne have plunged 27 per cent in the last 10 years, and must continue to decline if the city is to grow and thrive.
This is the evidence from new studies undertaken for the forthcoming City of Melbourne transport plan for 2050.
The number of people in the municipality is expected to grow from 914,000 per day to 1.4 million per day by 2036, reflecting the tremendous economic powerhouse the city has become, and its contribution to the wealth of the entire state of Victoria.
In a discussion paper just released for public comment, the City of Melbourne says: “The central city will not be able to cater for this growth without major changes to the priority given to cars."
"The question is not whether this should change, but how much, when and where."
“Reducing traffic volumes will improve conditions for emergency vehicles, servicing, freight, construction, bikes, public transport and accessibility."
"Traffic reduction policies will also improve health, road safety and air quality. These policies will reduce emissions and noise, create more space for other uses such as walking, dining, trees and bike lanes, improving the liveability of our city.”
This vision of a modern, car-lite, and economically thriving city has predictably been condemned By Premier Andrews.
Politicians have to face the facts: Melbourne’s growth, and its ability to support the state, can only continue if the city is accessible to workers and visitors who bike, walk and take public transport.
The City has also published a background paper on greenhouse emissions and air quality that indicates that transport emissions in Melbourne today already exceed the levels required to meet Australia’s obligations.
Private cars account for around 52 per cent of Melbourne’s land transport emissions.
The paper argues that making the city more accessible by emission-free bikes can help meet air quality goals.
“There is a strategic opportunity to improve cycling infrastructure through a reallocation of road space to permit separated, protected cycling lanes."
“Eliminating current gaps in the existing network, and then expanding the network should be the focus."
“Enabling residents on the periphery of the City of Melbourne and in neighbouring LGAs to access and travel through the CBD on a comprehensive network of high quality cycle routes should be the priority,” the paper says."
The motor vehicle discussion paper was released at the same time as a report into car parking, which recommends removing car park spaces.