The Victorian State Government is to trial a scheme that makes builders pay fees when their work sites block traffic lanes.
People who ride bikes around the country, but especially in inner-Melbourne where there is a building site disruption on just about every second street, know only too well the feeling when the bike lane suddenly disappears and becomes a lane for the concrete pumpers, or the crane loading zone.
Sometimes a temporary lane might be provided, and even when it is, riders often have to move across into face moving motor traffic to get past the construction zone.
This may now change if the cost of the Road Occupancy Charge incentivises builders to use less disruptive site access arrangements.
According to the government, the scheme applies to "traffic lanes”, which would include special purpose lanes such as bike lanes and bus lanes.
The government’s media release, typically, only mentions the benefits to cars.
Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan said: “Drivers know how frustrating it is when construction clogs up road space, shutting lanes and causing bottlenecks across important routes – this trial will encourage them off the road, where possible, to keep traffic moving.”
(We think that should read:”Keep bike traffic moving”)
“This road occupancy trial will charge people who make a profit out of blocking important public roads and traffic lanes which should be kept free for everyone to enjoy,” Minister Donnellan said.
The trial is initially confined to the City of Yarra.
Builders and developers will pay a weekly charge, set by the Valuer-General, scaled to the proportion of the disruption.
VicRoads says that a similar model trialled in London led to a major reduction in congestion. Transport for London subsequently introduced a lane rental scheme.
VicRoads will work with councils to develop a robust surveillance and education policy to ensure road occupations are better monitored and enforced where developers take up valuable road space.
The trial aims to encourage shorter disruption for commuters and smarter construction methods, with revenue going towards the development of road surveillance teams to improve worker and community safety and increase CCTV.
Throughout the trial, VicRoads says it will closely monitor the impact on the surrounding road network and the impacts of the road occupancy scheme on congestion and traffic flow.
Reminder to VicRoads: bikes are traffic.