Loading zone shortage not a bike problem

Melbourne’s bike lanes are under fire from the logistics sector because there is a shortage of loading zones.

Yes, there is a shortage of loading zones.

No, it is not bike riders who are nicking them while the truckie has their back turned.

The problem is actually too much on-street private car parking.

Random people are driving a couple of blocks to pick up a carton of milk and using parking spaces that should be the preserve of the delivery truck carrying tonnes of milk.

Bicycle Network agrees with the transport sector that an efficient logistics sector is vital to the economy

As Victorian Transport Association CEO, Peter Anderson said recently: "Without reliable access, supply chains don’t work and become dysfunctional, with the flow on effects being lost business and revenue for transport operators and their customers, and frustration from consumers who don’t have reliable access to goods they regularly consume.”

Bicycle Network has for years worked with governments and councils to ensure that streets designs take account of the need for logistics parking.

And pushed for plenty of it.

This is because when the delivery guy has nowhere proper to park, he parks in the nearest bike lane which at that time is momentarily free of traffic.

Obviously this can be a cause of conflict when the next bike zips along seconds later. And it is a safety risk for both the rider and the delivery people.

So yes, kerb space should be properly planned and the needs of the priority users should be taken into account.

The issue has come to the fore again recently because of the surge in pop-up bike routes that are part of COVID recovery programs has placed some very noticeable new bike lanes along Melbourne’s streets.

And because some are separated, people in vehicles can no longer sneak into them for pick ups and drop offs.

Mr Anderson understands the need for this new infrastructure.

"Anticipating more people would ride their bicycles into the city for work to avoid public transport and potential exposure to COVID, the City of Melbourne and the Victorian Government decided to build more dedicated bike lanes to create a safer environment for cycling,” he says.

"Nearly 40 kilometres of kerbside protected bike lanes were built, but regrettably the transport industry is suffering through a reduction in transport infrastructure.

"Without any consultation with industry, the bike lanes were built in Swanston Street, William Street, Bourke Street, Exhibition Street, Flinders Street, La Trobe Street and elsewhere in the city, with lanes and protection medians encroaching on loading zones and other parking and delivery infrastructure.”

"While we appreciate the need to protect cyclists, a consequence of these decisions has been a blowout in delivery times, which increases the number of trucks and delivery vehicles in the city.”

To clarify, these routes were first identified several years ago and inserted in the City’s Transport Strategy, which underwent extensive consultation.

Understandably, some previous loading and unloading options, legal or not, are no longer available.

And Mr Anderson’s complaint that loading zones in the Melbourne CBD have significantly declined over the past two years, prompting complaints from his members that deliver goods to retailers and fresh food, groceries and beverages to city bars and cafes, may well be correct.

If so that answer is simple: ask the council to take out on-street private car parking and convert it to loading zones.

"Local governments are responsible for maintaining heavy vehicle access to their localities and designating and enforcing loading zones,” Mr Anderson said.

"If they really want to support business recovery it is essential that more zones – not less – be set aside for transport operators to service their customers safely, quickly and efficiently.”

He will have Bicycle Network’s full support on that point.

This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.