The Hobart Council's infrastructure committee has responded to concerns about a proposed bike lane on Elizabeth Street by supporting a trial lane design for 12 months before the full council decides whether to incorporate it into the full plans for the strip.
When the designs were put out for public consultation submissions were received expressing support for the provision of an uphill bike lane, concern about the design of the lane, and a minority of submissions opposing the bike lane.
Bicycle Network’s key concern is the bike lane is in the dooring zone of parked cars, which is less of an issue in the first block but more of a risk in the second and third blocks.
Ideally, the uphill bike lane would be a kerbside separated cycleway because the high volume of cars on Elizabeth Street means there is a greater safety risk for riders. However, the council has rejected removing car parking on one side of the street to make that happen.
When concerns about the bike lane were aired the City of Hobart commissioned technical advice from a consultant with expertise in bicycle infrastructure and safety.
That report supports the speed limit drop along the street from 50 km to 40 km, pointing out the benefits that will have for bike riders, and recommends a further drop to 30 km.
It also points out that previous reports show that on-street parking is not highly utilised along the strip and it would be preferable to minimise parking to improve place and mobility values. Also, that car dooring from parked cars “are one of the most common involving bicycle riders in inner city areas and can lead to serious injuries, particularly as the rider is often flung to their right and potentially into the path of a motor vehicle”.
It notes that “physical separation is desirable to make the route attractive and safer for a wider cross-section of the community” and “ideally, the uphill bicycle lane would be protected by a physical kerb” but that would be difficult in the absence of the council supporting the removal of car parking.
The report recommends that a painted lane with a painted buffer between parked cars and riders is a compromise that would allow the council to upgrade in the future. Ideally, a painted buffer would be 80–100 cm wide but that a 60 cm buffer and 120 cm wide bike lane could be implemented.
In recognition of support for a bike lane but the concerns about its design the council looks like it will decide whether to trial a bike lane for 12 months alongside its Ready for Business project at its meeting on Monday 7 December. The City Infrastructure committee supported the council debating the trial and other motions 4 votes to 1, with Alderman Behrakis voting not to send it to full council and councillors Harvey, Burnet, Ewin and Reynolds voting for it.
The Ready for Business trial will roll out on the block on Elizabeth Street between Melville and Brisbane streets.
This is a better outcome for bike riders as the block will have a lot of the on-street parking removed and we have put forward the desire for a painted buffer between the remaining parked cars to help less confident riders better position themselves away from the dooring zone.