Port Phillip bike lane dispute resolved

Calm has descended on the City of Port Phillip after an attempt to stop the roll-out of pop-up bike lanes was amended at a recent council meeting.

A compromise was reached at the council meeting on Wednesday that permits the pop-up program to live on, but with changes.

Pop-up bike infrastructure has appeared during the past year around Melbourne’s inner suburbs in an attempt by the state government to accelerate the improvement of busy bike routes.

The installations are effectively trials, as the treatments are temporary, and can be adjusted in real-time, or even removed if the results don’t meet expectations.

However, where the benefits are proven, there is an expectation that they will be converted into more permanent features of the street in the future.

These consequences were to be the result of careful, professional evaluation after the trial period

Port Phillip councillor Andrew Bond went to the council meeting with a motion to get the "wall of visual pollution across the municipality” removed.

Acting CEO of Bicycle Network Rebecca Lane spoke, emphasising the role of safety and consideration of the majority of the community who are interested in riding but concerned about safety.

After it became clear that Cr Bond’s position would not carry the numbers in the council, a compromise was reached.

The Port Phillip program involves a number of innovative treatments rarely seen by Melbourne riders, and were quite disconcerting, at least initially, to many riders.

Bicycle Network provided feedback to the Department of Transport pop-up team during the program, questioning some choices, and suggesting modifications.

As with all trials, proper evaluation is critical, and this is only possible after a suitable period of time has elapsed.

Now that the council has voted to keep the pop-ups program, but also to ask for changes, we expect further negotiations between the council and the DoT.

Bicycle Network statement at the meeting

I am speaking tonight as acting Chief Executive Officer of Bicycle Network. We represent more than 48,000 bike riders, most of whom live in Melbourne.

We agree with Councillor Bond that the community deserves to know about changes happening to their neighbourhood. It’s understandable if residents feel angry or ‘unheard’ when this doesn’t occur.

We also agree with Councillor Bond that the Department of Transport and City of Port Phillip should work together to review the pop-up bike lane program to ensure its effective delivery.

Becoming more bike-friendly is a big opportunity for Port Phillip, so we need to get it right. However, we don’t agree that the council should request a stop to the pop-up program.

And that’s because we still have a lot of work to do to improve safety for people riding on our roads.The number of bike riders dying on our roads has not changed for the past 20 years. 

People riding bikes are not protected by bumper bars, seat belts, or air bags.

It’s why our local and state governments need to design roads that better protect vulnerable riders and pedestrians from being hit by people driving cars.

The pop-up bike lane program is trying to provide these safer conditions for people riding.

Bike lanes are not just for confident ‘lycra riders’, they are for children going to school, people riding to work, delivery riders at work and families enjoying a weekend ride together.

A recent study by Monash University found that 70 per cent of the City of Port Phillip population identified they were interested in riding a bike but concerned about their safety on the roads.

We should not lose sight of the people who want to ride a bike but are not vocal in this debate.

Instead, we believe the City of Port Phillip and Department of Transport should work together so that changes do not catch the community by surprise.

The council has a great opportunity to trial innovative designs that aim to make the area more sustainable and more liveable by creating safer cycling conditions.

You can leave feedback on all pop-up bike lane projects via Vicroads’ interactive map here. All community feedback to date is summarised on the Pop-up Bike Lanes Program website.

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