Submission: Cycling infrastructure for Coburg level Crossing Removal Open space Feedback

It makes so much sense to include an elevated veloway as part of Coburg level crossing removal. This submission contains more arguments for improving pedestrian and cyclist safety as part of level crossing removal, as well as improving open space amenity, parking and issues with new station design.  Arguments are backed up with statistical data on active transport on the Upfield path at Bell street and Moreland Road. Research which should have been done by LXRP as part of researching the local needs for the design. Download the Submission PDF or read below….

Submission: Open Space Community Feedback

The level crossing removal from Bell street to Moreland Road needs to improve the facilities for all active transport users, and particularly the commuter cyclists that use the Upfield path.

Executive Summary

An elevated veloway would remove the commuter cycling traffic from the equation around the road crossings and station precincts, adding substantially to safety outcomes for vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.”

John Englart,
Sustainable Transport Campaigner,
Extend the Upfield Bike Path to Upfield

Active Transport statistics

LXRP consultation provides information on daily vehicle movements and station access, but has provided no information on active transport movements. This would seem to be a failure in researching all transport movements. To do a proper job of design and engineering for level crossing removal active transport movements are just as important as vehicle movements and station entry data.

According to statistics presented at LXRP consultation sessions there are 68,000 vehicle movements through all four level crossings per day, and 109 passenger train services. Coburg station had 2500 daily entries and Moreland Station had 1300 daily entries.

But these statistics don’t provide information on Active Transport (both walking and cycling) around the station precincts or at the Bell Street and Moreland Road crossings. This information is vital to properly design station precincts and upgrade the Upfield path.

A count of pedestrian and cyclist traffic for 2 hours was done during the morning peak at Bell Street on Tuesday 11 June 2019. Moreland Council conducted a 24 hour active transport study for various sites on the Upfield path and Sydney Road in February 2019.

Bell street active transport congestion

There were 823 active transport movements in the two hours on 11 June with 230 cyclists and 593 pedestrian movements. There was a substantial north-south traffic in pedestrians and cyclists, and a substantial west-east pedestrian movement. There were several times when the north-south crossing was congested. Adding the substantial movements of people from east to west complicated the congestion further. (see Appendix)

Moreland Road active transport congestion

Moreland Council contracted a traffic survey in early February 2019 which included the Upfield Path and Moreland Road intersection. It found over 800 active transport movements in two hours, with over 500 cyclists and 300 pedestrians. This was a 24 hour survey which showed that the path was used fairly constantly over 24 hours with 2006 cyclist movements and 2492 pedestrian movements at this location. (see Appendix)

Why are these statistics important?

They show that during peak times at both Bell Street and Moreland Road there are over 400 active transport movements per hour. These are already congested spaces.

One also needs to consider the difference in speed of walking and cycling. Best practice urban design is to use shared pathways when total usage is low. When usage is high, separated pathways should be considered and implemented to reduce pedestrian/cyclist conflict and improve safety for each group.

Bicycle Network recommends a threshold of 150-200 total users an hour for a separated path. Both Moreland and Coburg had double this congestion on the dates surveyed.

The Upfield path is a major arterial cycling route used for commuting. Volumes of present cycling and walking traffic are inconsistent with safety for all users. Cycling numbers are only likely to increase.

The statistics indicate at the very least the need for separation of ground level cycling and walking paths.

But the problem is the large number of commuter cyclists, and the large number of east-west pedestrian traffic at Bell Street. This conflict would persist even with a ground level separated path solution.

Add to this the congestion at the traffic lights at Bell Street and Moreland Road, with the Beg button being constantly pushed during peak times. A number of walkers and cyclists already try to dash across these busy roads against the lights if they see a break in the traffic. This is a traffic safety issue that needs to be addressed as part of level crossing design.

An elevated veloway would remove the commuter cycling traffic from the equation around the road crossings and station precincts, adding substantially to safety outcomes for vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.

The volume of cyclists that use the Upfield bike path is one of the important factors that make the Upfield level crossing removal a more complex and demanding design and engineering project than the Caufield-Dandenong or Mernda projects.

The Station design images released on 12 June failed to encompass any improvements to cycling on the Upfield bike path at the station precincts. They might be pretty pictures but are functionally a failure to grasp the design issues around active transport at both Coburg and Moreland Station.

Ground level cycling paths and Elevated Veloway

Improvements to the Upfield path needs to factor in the Moreland Integrated Transport Strategy aim to increase cycling in the municipality, the creation of new feeder bike paths (like the Glenroy to Coburg route using Cumberland Road and O’Hea street) that will increase traffic on the Upfield bike path.

Upfield path improvements need to adequately future proof for future needs.

There should be separated ground level cycling and walking paths to cater for local cycling and pedestrian traffic.

An elevated veloway attached to the side of the rail viaduct should be designated as a cycleway for use by cyclists, scooters, skaters. It should rise and descend with the rail ramps.

The Veloway could have 3 access points, one near O’Hea street, one near Tinning Street, and an intermediate switchback ramp near Reynard street.

It should have high fencing to stop articles being dropped, and translucent screens up to 1.5 metres as privacy screening for nearby houses.

Upfield path is utilised by cyclists at all hours so the veloway would be open 24/7 and have it’s own lighting. Lighting does not need to be above, but can be at handrail level directed to the path, similar to some sections of lighting on the existing Upfield Path in Brunswick. This would minimise lightspill.

Emergency, PTV, Metro Trains access to the veloway could be designed as part of Moreland and Coburg stations with locked door access. Public access could be provided to the veloway if side platform design is used for Moreland and Coburg stations through an intermediate level with lift access.

Pedestrians would be discouraged from walking on the veloway.

Other Landscaping and use of open space

Vegetation. Important that existing trees along the corridor be preserved during construction, especially in Gandolfo Gardens, and that new trees are planted to help with urban heat island mitigation and to increase urban biodiversity.

Living Green walls. Some Pylons should have ‘green living walls’ with creepers planted to grow up and around the pylon.

Water Sensitive Urban Design: perhaps water tanks need to be included as part of viaduct drainage for temporary storage of water for watering vegetation during dry spells, as well as establishment of rain gardens.

Facilities: basketball hoops, an off-leash dog park, seating and tables, public electric BBQs, water fountains, cycle repair stops.

Parking

There should be zero net gain in car parking spaces at Coburg and Moreland Station. These stations are in highly urbanised communities where most people should be using either active transport or public transport (buses, trams) to access the station.

We note that Bell Street is used to avoid Citylink by some commuters. Adding extra parking at Coburg or Moreland Stations increases vehicle congestion on Moreland roads.

A minimal charge should be introduced on daily parking at Moreland and Coburg stations, with appropriate disability exceptions.

EV charging spots should be provided at both Moreland and Coburg stations to encourage transition to electric vehicles.

CCTV cameras need to be installed at the station and in station car parks.

Ground level pedestrian and cycling paths should have right-of-way where they cross car park entrance or exits.

Secure bike parking in Parkiteer cages and public bike hoops should be provided at both stations. Bicycle parking hoops should be incorporated as part of the landscaping facilities in the linear park.

Transport Integration

Bus bays should be provided at the station for convenient modal interchange, and to allow for increase in bus services to encourage bus use to reach the station.

Better integraton of pedestrian pathways between Moreland station with the tram stops on Moreland Road and Cameron street. Siting Moreland station over Moreland Road would assist this.

Stations

Siting of stations. There are benefits in Coburg station being sited above Bell Street and Moreland Station above Moreland Road. This would allow station entry from both sides of the road eliminating some of the pedestrian need to cross at traffic lights. Moving Moreland Station south over Moreland Road would mean the trees in Gandolfo Gardens and on the east side of the railway line would not need to be destroyed.

Solar panels should be installed on station roofs to assist in contributing to the energy needs of the new stations.

Accessible and redundant disability access. Our preference is for central island station platforms, rather than platforms at each side. Access should be provided by steps, escalator and at least two lifts, to ensure redundancy when a lift is out of service due to maintenance, to ensure ongoing disability access.

If the side platform design is used, we see no impediment to having 3 levels for lifts: Concourse, Veloway, Platform.

Creating a safe and inclusive community space

There should be good sightlines, and reasonable lighting (especially at car parks), in the landscaping of the open space.

Safety also relies upon the community use and activation this space, which depends upon making the open space an area for social activity and engagement.

Community art

The dull grey of the concrete spans of the rail viaduct are an opportunity for community art and expression. I suggest local art competitions are run for artists to decorate the concrete viaduct with murals. A rainbow serpent snaking from Coburg to Moreland? Panels of mural art showing the history and people of the area? A mural montage of Merri Creek and Moonee Ponds Creek with kangaroos grazing and sacred kingfisher and platypus?


Appendix: Active Transport statistics Upfield Path at Bell street and Moreland Road

Bell Street and Upfield Path Active Transport data

Bike and Pedestrian Count Tuesday 11 June 2019
Weather: cold but fine. Tuesday after a long weekend.
Location: Upfield Bike Path and Bell Street

  South North East-West
Time Cyclists Pedestrians Cyclists Pedestrians Cyclists Pedestrians
7:10-7:40am 43 53 7 13 1 64
7:40-8:10am 56 75 9 5 4 125
Total 1st hour 99 128 16 18 5 189
8:10-8:40am 42 44 13 10 4 79
8:40-9:10am 35 49 12 11 4 65
Total 2nd hour 77 93 25 21 8 144
Total 176 221 41 39 13 333

Total North South cyclists = 217
Total North South Pedestrians = 260

Total East-West cyclists = 13
Total East-West Pedestrians = 333

Total Cyclists = 230
Total Pedestrians = 593

Total Active Transport = 823 

Note: Thresholds for separated paths in Victoria Walks: Shared Paths – the issues (2015) http://www.victoriawalks.org.au/Assets/Files/Shared_paths,_the_issues.pdf

Bicycle Network recommends separated paths for over 150-200 users per hour. Bell Street and the Upfield path have over 400 users per hour, and this is during winter. Summer figures are likely to be much higher.

Cycling/pedestrian conflict is a real issue and an elevated veloway would address the traffic issue. This is a problem for vehicle management on Bell street with cyclists constantly pushing beg button. Congestion causes pedestrians and cyclists to cross against the lights if the traffic light cycle is too long.

Moreland Road and Upfield Path Active Transport Data

Moreland Council 24 hr Traffic count Upfield Bikepath
  Moreland Rd & Upfield Munro St & Upfield path Park St & Upfield path
05/02/19 Cyclists Pedestrians Cyclists Pedestrians Cyclists Pedestrians
24hr count 2006 2492 1356 1594 3615 1006
7-9am count 505 300 322 182 974 162
Moreland Council 24 Hr bicycle traffic count Sydney Road
05/02/19 Moreland Rd Harding St   Park St  
24hr count 593 447 3660

Note: Moreland Council does a count of cycle movements at specific sites for a 24 hour period.
While cycle movements are elevated during peak hours, the path is well used 24/7 basis.
During 2018 the NeoMetro/Victrack development at Jewell Station closed the Upfield Path
which has resulted in substantial cyclists choosing Sydney Road as their route.

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