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Taking it to the streets this summer

Victorian streets will be transformed to be more people and bike friendly this summer after the state government announced a COVID relief package to help businesses set-up outdoor retail and dining spaces.

Grants will be available for councils and eligible businesses including cafes, restaurants and pubs to change streetscapes, install furniture and create outdoor dining areas.

While mainly designed to stem the spread of COVID-19 when businesses reopen, the changes will create outdoor environments with more room for eating and drinking that encourage walking and riding.

"We are going to see more and more tables on footpaths. Some of that foot traffic may move to the kerbside parking area where kerbside parking would no longer be allowed," said Premier Daniel Andrews at a press conference today.

"So popular that these arrangements may be, I think that will become a lasting feature of the way the city and the suburbs and indeed the whole state functions."

On top of grants for businesses, the City of Melbourne will also get its own assistance package to increase COVID-safe transport and activity in the CBD.

"There will be $40 million going towards providing physical improvements to the CBD streetscape, whether that's about bike lanes, wider footpaths, bollards and the like," said Minster for Industry Support and Recovery Martin Pakula.

"This will utterly transform the city, and not just for this summer."

The relief package matches many suggestions made by Bicycle Network's recent state government submission Saving Victorian businesses with placemaking that recommended investment in parklets.

The plan proposed converting 1,000 on-street car park spots to parklets to set up furniture, seating and planter boxes.

Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richards said parklets would help more people get out, be social and support local businesses while density limits are in place during the steps of coronavirus restrictions.

“Parklets are a triple treat that would help more people get out and enjoy our cities, reduce the risk of the virus spreading and give a bigger boost to businesses who have done it tough,” said Mr Richards.

“Tables, chairs, installations and planter boxes could be used by businesses to create their own unique shop front, while bike parking can also be used to encourage more people to ride to their local strip.”

As well as increasing dining space, businesses can install bike parking spots to encourage more people to ride and spend more time in retail areas.

Click here to see Bicycle Network's submission submission Saving Victorian businesses with placemaking.

Read more about the state government assistance package on ABC News.

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