Transport for Victoria has developed concepts for major improvements to Sydney Road that include bike lanes instead of on-street car parking.
The confidential concept was revealed by The Age newspaper.
The concept is one of a number of potential transformations of the failing road that were due to go to public consultation this year.
The concepts were developed during an 18 month “co-design” process involving stakeholders along the corridor through Brunswick and Coburg.
Bicycle Network participated in the design workshops, but undertook not to reveal or comment on the work until the public consultation phase was underway.
Sydney Road is ripe for a makeover. The arterial is choked with motor traffic, trams are often at a standstill, and bike riders fear being doored.
The retail and commercial role of the street is under challenge as on-line shopping devours the sales of brick and mortar stores.
None-the-less, the street has tremendous potential for revitalisation. Population will grow rapidly over the next 15 years as a new generation of urban professionals flood into the once industrial, soon to be residential, strip between the road and the railway line.
The increased density coupled with demographic change will create a whole new market for a new generation of retailers and local businesses that are attuned to the new environment.
As Sydney Road has no capacity to ever carry more motor traffic, moving this new community around will fall to public transport, walking and bikes.
And the only way to get more people on trams and bikes is to convert parking space to transport space.
Research into shopping patterns in Sydney Road and other inner Melbourne tram streets shows – contrary to the long-held belief of traders – that most of their customers do not use cars.
Many of the car spaces in and around Sydney Road are used by traders and staff, not customers. There is plenty of parking for those that need to drive on nearby streets and car park parks.
The Sydney Road revitalisation is becoming more critical as apartment developments force detours along the parallel Upfield Trail.
This will become more critical next year as work gears up on the level crossings removals at Moreland Road and Bell Street, causing further disruptions to bike routes.