The City of Hobart is calling for ideas for its latest project to rejuvenate a shopping strip – Elizabeth Street between Melville and Warwick streets – and there’s a chance for bike riders to have their say.
The area has become known as “Midtown” and has undergone a big change in use over the past few years with new shops and bars and the opening of the University of Tasmania’s 430-bed accommodation building.
This follows projects in Lenah Valley and New Town, which have seen new paving, seating, lighting, pedestrian crossings and public art.
While these projects have created much improved local shopping areas and brought the community along for the ride, they have done little to improve bicycle access.
Lenah Valley and New Town improvements include new bicycle hoops and short, disconnected painted bike lanes directly alongside the shopping areas.
The project improvements have not stopped better bicycle infrastructure being built in the future, but there is a possibility with Elizabeth Street that there will be a push for more outdoor dining on wider footpaths and this has the potential to impede future bicycle infrastructure.
Elizabeth Street is popular with bicycle riders. It’s wide enough to feel comfortable, not too steep and the relatively light traffic tends to move slowly. If the council got rid of its ban on bike riding in the Elizabeth Mall it would open up the entire corridor for bike riders.
It could be Hobart’s main north-south route for people riding, walking and catching the bus. Infrastructure Tasmania released a short transport vision just before the state election in 2018 that showed Midtown as an active transport corridor with no on-street car parking: https://www.stategrowth.tas.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/166079/Hobart_Transport_Vision_small_20180117.pdf
Options for Elizabeth Street include a separated cycleway, but it could also be a mixed zone traffic-calmed 30 km/h street where bicycles are given enough room to comfortably travel.
One of the great disappointments of the Liverpool Street redevelopment was that it created a 30 km/h mixed zone but left no room for bikes to comfortably ride, instead on most weekdays they get stuck in motor traffic.
To register your ideas for Midtown head to https://yoursay.hobartcity.com.au/midtown to fill out the simple two-question form. You can also pick up a postcard from businesses in Midtown which have the same questions and mail your answers back.
This is the first step in a long consultation phase, so it’s a chance to get bicycles on the agenda from the beginning.