Stonnington shapes up local network

Melbourne’s inner east seems set to gain more bike routes as the City of Stonnington implements a local ’shimmy’ network.

The network has been designed to draw cyclists away from major DoT managed roads to local street alternatives where traffic speeds and volumes are lower and therefore more attractive and less risky for people on bikes.

The need for alternatives is particularly important in the suburbs of Windsor, Prahran and South Yarra where the existing level of demand for bike riding appears highest.

The council is aiming for a network that supports convenient local bicycle trips for all ages and abilities.

From a demographical perspective, the inner east should be humming with bikes, and studies by Infrastructure Victoria have shown that even modest investments in infrastructure would see many locals on bikes and the pressure on public and transport and road congestion eased.

But with a council that for many years has been known as the kindergarten for the Liberal Party, investing in active transport was not high in the priority list.

Wisely, Stonnington has realised that previous street treatments undertaken in the inner east to cut down on rat-running through-traffic, and make life tolerable for residents, has created conditions that are amenable for local bike trips, especially given that the small scale of the streets makes them inherently low-stress.

The street closures, chicanes and other traffic filtering have been effective in making streets more bike-friendly by limiting the impact of traffic.

More recently, the council has introduced one-way traffic systems and speed reductions in some local neighbourhoods to continue with this approach.

Local neighbourhoods abutting both sides of Chapel Street were the obvious sites to focus on initially to provide a north-south alternative but also to draw riders from adjacent suburbs to the Chapel Street precinct via quieter local streets.

Some of these streets are already well popular with riders, which provided an impetus to focus on these streets initially.

The first streets of the shimmy network received sharrow line marking earlier this year and the plan is to further roll out the network this current financial year.

These streets included Upton Road in Windsor, Greville, Spring and Murray streets plus Chatworth Road and Wrights Terrace in Prahran, and Mathoura Road in Toorak.

The council considered that Upton Road has always been a well-cycled street with connection to the City of Port Phillip over Dandenong Road and a safer north-south alternative to Chapel Street. Sharrows have been installed to define the street better for cyclists and wayfinding upgrades are also planned to be introduced.

Heading north beyond Upton Road, the council is investigating contra-flow treatments in one-way streets between Commercial Road and High Street and eventually, when Melbourne Metro works are completed, a new link will connect with these streets to enable safe cycling from Commercial Road to Toorak Road and onwards to the Main Yarra Trail.

The rationale behind the shimmy network in these more western suburbs has been replicated in other neighbourhoods across the municipality with similar local networks identified for Malvern and East Malvern.

The approach to these routes will be to form a network that is intuitive for riders by linking up logical streets that are currently well used and where further traffic calming is possible, according to the council.

Again, these routes aim to draw cyclists away from the busy roads to quieter and low stress cycling streets and to provide convenient connections to train stations, activity centres, shared-paths and universities.

The council is currently developing an Implementation Plan for the Cycling Strategy 2020-25 which will guide the council delivery of these networks moving forward.

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