Pascoe Vale MP Lizzie Blandthorn Backtracks on Cumberland Road dedicated bike lanes

Cumberland Road – a cyclist view

In an announcement on Facebook Pascoe Vale MP Lizzie Blandthorn has backtracked on a commitment to build dedicated cycle lanes along Cumberland Road, part of a connecting route between Coburg and Glenroy civic centres, and also serving many intermediate local destinations. The route has been long planned by Moreland Council and Moreland Bicycle User Group (BUG).

VicRoads has delayed and obstructed work for implementing the Cumberland Road dedicated bike lanes.

In Friday’s announcement (12 June 2020) a new route using Derby Street is now being put forward.

Derby Street is also used as a major rat run traffic route from Melville Road via Turner Street to reach Boundary Road. It features present roundabouts at Essex street and Kent road which pose existing safety risks for cyclists in traffic.

The new route would also use turns at the Cumberland Road/Kent Road roundabout and at Derby street/Kent Road roundabout.

Kent Road itself is problematic with the Kent Road shops and parking often on both sides of the street limiting traffic to one car lane.

Derby street already has cycle lanes.

Google streetview showing car parking, narrowness of kent Road

Turner and Derby street also could provide a future extension of the No 58 Melville Road tram to Boundary Road, providing public transport for many Pascoe Vale and Hadfield residents. The road widths were planned for this eventuality, but succeeding Governments since 1944 have ignored the increase in residential expansion and need for extension of public transport.

Cycling Infrastructure: Putting out the trash on a Friday

The announcement was made late Friday afternoon, a day and time often used by politicians for inconvenient announcements, sometimes referred to as putting out the trash.

“We’ve just released our preferred route, which will travel from Boundary Road, south along Cumberland Road, east along Kent Road and south along Derby Street to O’Hea Street in Pascoe Vale.

“We’ve ruled out previously considered routes due to high traffic volumes, the presence of heavy vehicles, dangerous zones for cyclists and extensive carpark losses, which will negatively impact our local businesses – who have already been doing it tough.

“The new route will be made safer thanks to a $4.48 million investment – with new green bicycle lanes, intersection upgrades and measures to encourage motorists to slow down.”

Lizzie Blandthorn backtracks on Cumberland Road bike lanes

Source: Lizzie Blandthorn Facebook Post 12 June 2020.

Cumberland Road dedicated bike lanes have been advocated for many years as a main cycling route through Pascoe Vale linking Glenroy to Coburg civic Centres by Moreland Council and Moreland BUG.

Moreland Council, in the draft 10 year bicycle and pedestrian projects, lists construction of dedicated bike lanes on Cumberland from Kent Road to O’Hea Street for construction in 2019/2020.

Cumberland Road bike lane project in Moreland Council bicycle strategy

Andrews Government commits to Cumberland Road dedicated bike lanes

Minister for Roads Luke Donnellan announced the Cumberland Road dedicated bike lanes and 2018/19 state budget funding for it on 1st May 2018 in a media release: “There’ll also be a new on-road cycling path for Cumberland Road in Pascoe Vale, linking Glenroy and Coburg.”

In March 2019 Pascoe Vale MP Lizzie Blandthorn, along with new Roads Minister Jaala Pulford and members of the Moreland Bicycle User Group announced funding for the Cumberland dedicated cycle lane project on site. Lizzie Blandthorn said in her post on 29 March 2019:

“The Dan Andrews Victorian Labor Government provided $2 Million toward this project in the 2018/19 Victorian budget. The Moreland BUG advocated strongly for this great project that will provide the missing cycling link between existing bike paths in our local community.”

Lizzie Blandthorn, Jaala Pulford announce with Moreland BUG Cumberland Road dedicated bike lanes

Source: Lizzie Blandthorn Facebook Post 29 March 2019.

In April 2019 Lizzie Blandthorn happily stood beside Federal MP for Wills Peter Khalil, and Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development Anthony Albanese committing a future Labor Government to fund the extension of the O’Hea Street bike path from Sussex street to Cumberland Road. (see 2019 Election commitments on cycling)

Here is the map of the new route published by Lizzie Blandthorn on 12 June 2020:

New Route?: Lizzie Blandthorn backtracks on Cumberland Road dedicated bike lanes

No public engagement for new route

It appears this new route has been done without any consultation or engagement with local cyclists, local cycling advocacy organisations, and perhaps even without traffic engineers and traffic planners at Moreland Council.

Many businesses and destinations that cyclists and cycling families might frequent are now off the cycling route offered by Lizzie Blandthorn. These include coffee and food shops: Jack & Daisy, Anthropology Specialty Coffee, Venita Cafe, Scroogys Pizza, Quella Pizzeria, Gaffney Brew, Pascoe Vale Hot Bread.

Education facilities include Pascoe Vale Primary School, The Goodstart Early learning centres, Jetts childcare centre, Melbourne Performing Arts Academy. Sporting clubs and facilities include Coburg District Football club, Pascoe Vale outdoor pool. Even cyclists sometimes need to go to a bank branch like Commonwealth Bank Pascoe Vale.

Some of us even take our four footed furred best friends out cycling, perhaps to theoff-leash dog park in Cole Reserve, but you never know when we may want to use Doggy Beauty Parlour on Cumberland Road after an exercise.

Parking Occupancy Survey

If the problem is removal of parking, in 2018 Moreland Council assessed parking usage and capacity:

“Council has undertaken a parking survey on Cumberland Road between Eddie Street and Boundary Road, (details included at Attachment 3) to measure the likely effect of removal of parking. The parking survey revealed that parking occupancy peaked at 41% during the day, and was 13 to 15% at 6 am. Additionally, all residential properties have off-street parking.

“The parking survey revealed that parking could be removed on one side of the road while maintaining a suitable level of current on-street parking.
Areas in the survey that had more than 50% occupancy have had follow up inspections. It was found that there is available parking in the adjacent side streets to cater for any displaced vehicles. Additionally, the installation of protected bicycle lanes would reduce the community’s dependence on cars, which is in line with the Moreland Integrated Transport Strategy (MITS), and current draft of the updated MITS.”

“Council officers have developed a cross section, shown at Attachment 2, that has protected bicycle lanes and parking on one side of the road. The design allows protected bicycle lanes, sufficient width for a street sweeper, a buffer to keep cyclists outside of the door zone, and a traffic lane width that supports the 513 bus route. This design is officer’s recommended cross section. VicRoads has indicated that this design better suits their aim to protect venerable road users.”
From report Protected Bicycle Lanes on Cumberland Road – Approval to Remove Parking (D18/283997), Moreland Council Agenda 12 September 2018

Key features of the Council design for Cumberland Road was for:

  • Protected bicycle lanes on both sides of the road;
  • Correctly dimensioned parking lane on one side of the road;
  • The parking could alternate sides to best suit the needs of the area;
  • 3.4 metre wide traffic lane that caters for the bus;
  • 0.8 metre buffer to ensure cyclists are outside of the ‘door zone’; and
  • Sufficient width for the street sweeper.
Cumberland Road cross-section with dedicated bike lanes – Moreland Council design

According to Council minutes, Moreland Councillors at that Council meeting decided (with one vote against) that Council:

  1. Supports the removal of on-street parking on one side of Cumberland Road, Pascoe Vale, between Olive Grove and Boundary Road, to facilitate the installation of protected bicycle lanes by VicRoads.
  2. Requests VicRoads to maintain the pedestrian refuge islands Cumberland Road, Pascoe Vale as a part of the design for the installation of protected bicycle lanes between Olive Grove and Boundary Road.
  3. Requests VicRoads to consult with the local community, the Moreland Bicycle User Group, and the operator of the 513 Bus Route, prior to finalising the design for the installation of protected bicycle lanes in Cumberland Road, Pascoe Vale.

Project Budget doubled, but dedicated bike lanes become greenwash on-road lanes?

So the budget has doubled from $2 million to $4.48 million, but a more dangerous route providing less connection to facilities, and no promise of dedicated bike lanes but just a painted green lane instead…

Would Ms Blandthorn trust her own children to ride on this type of cycling infrastructure?

Because that is what she is asking others to do.

Update 16 June: VicRoads outlines work for new route

VicRoads have confirmed in a post modified on 14 June, that safety improvements will be minimal as part of doing this new on-road route via Derby street, Kent Road and the last section of Cumberland Road.

No dedicated bike lanes, instead the existing on-road bike lanes along Derby will be painted green, new green painted on-road bike lanes on Cumberland from Kent Rd to Boundary Road, and raised approaches to the roundabouts. And to do this the budget has increased from $2 million for the dedicated bike lanes on Cumberland to $4.48 million for a substandard upgrade solution.

As a part of this project, to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians we’re investing $4.48 million to:

  • Install green pavement between O’Hea and Kent Road – this will remind drivers to take care and check for riders
  • Install bike stencils and raised platforms at the approaches of roundabouts to increase the presence of cyclists in a shared road environment
  • Encourage lower speeds by installing speed cushions
  • Install a new 1.2 meter on-road bicycle lane with green pavement on Cumberland Road between Kent Road and Boundary Road.
  • This will complimented by a speed reduction to 50km/h on this section of Cumberland Road.
  • Provide designated cyclist boxes at the intersection of Boundary Road and Cumberland Road.

Dedicated bike lanes along Cumberland would serve numerous sporting, school and commercial destinations and would only involve one roundabout to re-engineer (at Kent Rd and Cumberland Rd). Instead the new route will involve three roundabouts including two which involve either 90 or 270 degree turns. Most Roundabouts leave cyclists to merge into the traffic which usually leaves them forced into the gutter or hit by passing cars.

The speed limit along Cumberland Road is currently 60kmh, with VicRoads promising to reduce speed limit to 50km/h. This is still too fast for an on-road unprotected bike path. A cyclist hit by a car at 50km/h has a strong possibility of being kelled, wheras they may survive a collision at 40km/h.

Victoria Walks reports that “It is estimated that less than 10% of pedestrians would die when struck by a vehicle travelling at 30 km/h, compared with fatality rates of 26% at 40 km/h and over 80% at 50 km/h.”

Comparison of speed to fatality risk to pedestrians and cyclists

Reference:

Moreland Council report and extract of minutes on Cumberland Road dedicated bike lanes (12 Sep 2018 ) 2018-09-12-MCC-Protected-Bicycle-Lanes-Cumberland-Road-Parking-D18-283997

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