At the July Council meeting Moreland Council outlined a pro-active response to Covid 19 and the need to provide alternatives to public transport and more room for physical distancing in the street environment for pedestrians and cyclists.
As awareness sinks in during stage 4 pandemic lockdown, it is clear we need to adapt how we move about our suburbs and further afield, go to work and schools (when we are allowed to do so). There is no quick path back to our life before the pandemic.
To allow safe physical distancing public transport patronage needs to decrease by 85 percent. We can’t afford for everyone to drive causing increased congestion and gridlock, so walking and cycling needs to be encouraged, and cycling infrastructure needs to be put in place for this to happen and make it safe for people to choose to walk and cycle more.
Many cities around the world are implementing greater cycling and walking infrastructure (World Resource Institute)
As we open slowly from the second wave, restaurants and cafes will likely need to move to outside dining and serving models of operation to reduce risk of transmission. This will require reallocating street space to ensure this can happen to ensure our hospitality industry can operate in a covid-safe manner.
The Premier Dan Andrews intimated that such reallocation of street space might be needed at his press conference on Monday 7 September.
The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) has highlighted that the State Government should be funding local councils to deliver improved walking and cycling projects in the next 12 months. Funding remains the key obstacle for almost 80 per cent of projects.
MAV President Cr Coral Ross said in a statement “These are incredibly challenging times, so it is important to look for opportunities that promise positive outcomes for our communities. Increased levels of walking and cycling should be encouraged and made safer. We are calling on the State to help councils make that happen.
“It is vitally important we don’t neglect our physical and mental health. Governments at all levels need to come together to enable people to benefit from safe, regular exercise in their local areas while still obeying the lockdown restrictions.
“Beyond the health benefits of enhanced infrastructure for walking and cycling, providing funding support for this work will also drive economic benefits through job creation.
Here is a roadmap for increasing active transport (cycling and walking) devised by Moreland Council for implementation in coming months:
- Safe movement of Pedestrians and cyclists Covid19 response
- Improving on-road cycling lanes
- Redirection and completion of recent cycling projects in Moreland
- Budget deliberations increase pedestrian and cycling infrastructure funding
- Cumberland Road Dedicated bike lanes
Safe movement of Pedestrians and cyclists Covid19 response
During June and July Moreland Council officers developed a list of walking and cycling improvements and actions that could be quickly delivered, subject to funding. These included:
- Pop up separated bicycle lanes in the following locations:
- Dawson Street, Brunswick to provide a safer route to school for students at Brunswick Secondary College and connect the Upfield shared user path and West Brunswick Shimmy;
- Albion Street, Brunswick to provide a safer connection between the Upfield shared path and detours around the path closure due to Level Crossing Removal Works;
- Northumberland Road and Kent Road, Pascoe Vale to complete missing sections in the Coburg to Glenroy Bicycle Link;
- Additional pedestrian (zebra) crossings along Principal Pedestrian Network (PPN) routes in Activity Centres and Neighbourhood Centres;
- Additional pedestrian thresholds along PPN routes and routes to schools;
- Shared zones on Albert Street and Victoria Street, Brunswick East near Fleming Park to improve walking and cycling access to the park, reduce rat-running and improve the East Brunswick Shimmy;
- An expanded parklet program to provide outdoor dining space to businesses to support their viability while maintaining social distancing requirements;
- Upgrades to informal detour routes around the Upfield shared path closure as identified by Council in March 2020 (DCF10/20) and which can be delivered by Council;
- Land acquisition and design for a footpath to be constructed on Stewart Street, Brunswick East in 2021-22;
- Continued rollout of 40km/h speed limits on local roads;
- Right hand turn bans along tram corridors in Brunswick and Brunswick East as identified in the Brunswick Integrated Transport Strategy 2013;
- Banning parking on Boundary Road, Pascoe Vale/Hadfield to improve the safety and attractiveness of existing bicycle lanes;
- A footpath obstructions blitz proactively addressing footpath obstructions such as overhanging vegetation, parking over footpaths and footpath trading items not in accordance with Council’s Footpath Guidelines;
- Advocacy to State Government for improved priority for pedestrians and cyclists at signals and crossings; and
- Advocacy for a trial of separated bicycle lanes on Sydney Road consistent with Council’s resolution in August 2019 (DCF64/19).
Council described these projects:
“These projects have an estimated total cost of $2.401 million including 1.5 equivalent full-time additional staff resources. $150,000 can be reallocated within 2020-21 program budgets in the City Change branch to deliver some of these projects, and a number of projects in the 10 Year Bicycle and Pedestrian capital works programs have been recommended to be prioritised such as the upgrade of the shared path through KW Joyce Reserve (DCF28/20). However, delivery of the remainder of the identified projects is beyond the existing base programs or the 10 Year Capital Bicycle and Pedestrian capital works programs and would require additional funding by Council or through external funding by State or Federal Government.”
Cr Dorney moved, Cr Carli Hannan seconded –
- Notes COVID-19 social distancing requirements necessitate a reduction in public transport capacity in the order of 85 per cent, and that an increase in the number of trips made by walking and cycling is needed to avoid a significant increase in congestion and other traffic issues.
- Notes the walking and cycling improvements projects proposed as COVID-19 transport response detailed in Attachment 2 to this report.
- Notes that within the existing City Change Branch base budget program:
- i. $100,000 can be allocated to delivering additional zebra crossings;
- ii. $30,000 can be allocated to expanding the parklet program; and
- iii. $20,000 can be allocated towards progressing the implementation of 40km/h speed limits on local roads; and
- iv. Minor costs to deliver Boundary Road bike lane improvements (if approved as recommended in DCFXX/20 Removal of car parking to support bicycle movement)
- Approves the following projects as described in this report to be delivered as soon as possible, subject to external/grant funding being secured.
- i. An expanded zebra crossing program (up to $500,000);
- ii. An expanded pedestrian threshold program (up to $500,000);
- iii. Pop up separated bicycle lanes on Dawson Street, Brunswick between the Upfield shared path and Barry Street ($105,000);
- iv. Pop up shared zones on Albert Street and Victoria Street in Brunswick East at the Fleming Park shared path ($150,000);
- v. Pop up separated bicycle lanes on Kent Road, Pascoe Vale, between Cornwall Road and Cumberland Road ($60,000);
- vi. Pop up separated bicycle lanes on Northumberland Road, Pascoe Vale between Rhodes Parade and the KW Joyce Reserve shared path ($66,000);
- vii. Pop up separated bicycle lanes on Albion Street, Brunswick linking the Upfield shared path to detour routes around the Upfield closure due to LXRP ($40,000);
- viii. Right hand turn bans identified in BITS 2013 to improve the safety of pedestrians and cyclists crossing at intersections, as well as tram priority ($150,000);
- ix. Land purchase and design for the Priority Pedestrian Network missing link in Stewart Street to enable construction in 20212/2022 ($165,000); and
- x. Upgrades to informal detour routes around Upfield shared path closure – to deliver safety improvements previously endorsed by Council (DCF10/20) and within Council’s control ($390,000).
- Writes seeking a meeting with the Minister for Roads and Road Safety, the Hon. Ben Carroll to:
- i. In accordance with Council’s position (DCF64/19), seek agreement and support for a trial of a short-length separated bike lane on Sydney Road to boost transport choice during the COVID 19 pandemic and streamline approvals for this trial to go ahead;
- ii. Advocate for improved priority for pedestrians and cyclists at signals and crossings consistent with Council resolution NOM23/20;
- iii. Advocate for right turn bans identified in the Brunswick Integrated Transport Strategy 2013;
- iv. Advise of Council’s transport response to COVID-19 including approved projects and identify opportunities for State Government funding to deliver walking and cycling improvements in Moreland.
- Writes to the Member for Pascoe Vale, Lizzie Blandthorn and the Member for Brunswick, Dr Tim Read to advise of the local implications of COVID-19 on transport and Council’s transport response to COVID-19 including approved projects, as requested by the Metropolitan Transport Forum.
- Authorises officers to repurpose car parking spaces generally in accordance with Council’s parklet program, using lower-cost materials such as bollards and planter boxes, to be provided upon request to businesses at no cost, subject to the usual road safety assessment.
- Provide additional funding of $75,000 and halves the permit fees for participating 1.in Council’s regular parklet program (short-term stream) using premium parklet furniture for 2020-21, and amends the Fees and Charges Schedule 2020-21 accordingly:
- i. Short-term parklet lease (1 car space): $1,092.75; and
- ii. Short-Term Parklet Lease (Each Additional Car Space): $546.40
- Notes a number of the projects described in this report cannot be delivered without additional funding and resources and endorses the prioritisation of projects if various levels of funding are available as described in this report.
- Notes that work continues with the Department of Transport to progress trials of 30km/h speed limits in selected areas of Moreland, and that trial locations will be proposed to Council in future following completion of a research and evaluation framework.
- Notes the information in this report about the location and condition of social distancing signage on shared paths, and that neighbouring municipalities have been requested to confirm using similar signage on shared paths near Moreland.
- Notes the Communications Unit social media posts messaging the encouragement of social distancing and the etiquette on shared paths.
Budget deliberations increase pedestrian and cycling infrastructure funding
The budget deliberations also ocurred at the same meeting which noted and agreed upon:
“7. Pedestrian & Cycling infrastructure: Additional funding of $1,383,534 has been included in the 2020-21 capital works budget, in response to a number of budget submissions;
25. Increases the additional COVID pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure funding in the budget by $300,000.”
It was quite an extensive resolution in 12 points and moved and seconded by a Greens Councillor and ALP Councillor.
Improving on-road cycling lanes
In a separate resolution Council also progressed the intention to remove some targeted street parking to increase useability of on-road cycling lanes. These lanes are often obstructed due to parked cars causing cyclists to swerve out into the traffic or avoid the lanes altogether. The four areas include:
- O’Hea Street, Pascoe Vale;
- Railway Place, Brunswick;
- De Carle Street, Coburg;
- Boundary Road, Hadfield/Pascoe Vale/Coburg North.
The Council resolution stated:
Cr Martin moved, Cr Irfanli seconded –
1. Consults with the local community on the recommended solution for the O’Hea Street bike path extension which would require the removal of parking to protect the existing trees and receives a report on the findings on the consultation with recommendations on the next steps prior to any construction.
2. Reallocates road space on Railway Place, Brunswick to support the installation of a shared path by removing parking on the west side, as indicated in Attachment 4 to this report.
3. Consults with the local community on the detailed design for the De Carle Street, Coburg road narrowing and bike path construction which would require the removal of some parking and receives a report on the findings on the consultation with recommendations on the next steps prior to any construction.
4. Bans parking on both sides of Boundary Road, Coburg North/Hadfield/Pascoe Vale between West Street and the Upfield Shared Path to provide a more direct, and safer, route for cyclists in this area to access the shared user path, receives a report to on the parking removal three months after the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
Redirection and completion of recent cycling projects in Moreland
The last 12 months have also seen a redirection of projects due to problems delivering the Craigieburn shared path.
Consequently, new projects have been designed and/or constructed in 2019/20 following approval by Council (DCF82/19). Projects delivered in 2019/20 include:
- New shared paths on Hilton Street, Hadfield; Rhodes Parade, Glenroy and Kingfisher Gardens, Brunswick East;
- 240 new bike parking spaces and improved intersections at John Street/Glenlyon Road, Brunswick East and Glenroy Road/Widford Street, Glenroy; and
- Multiple small-scale bicycle improvements such as linemarking and pram ramps.
Additionally, Council contributed 50 per cent of the funding for a new bridge on the Moonee Ponds Creek at Hopetoun Avenue, Brunswick West.
In the last 12 months the Pedestrian Program delivered the following projects in 2019/20:
- Zebra crossings at the Bonwick Street, Fawkner and Barkly Square, Brunswick shopping centres;
- Raised threshold treatments at Nicholson Street and Moore Street in Brunswick East;
- A new footpath in Fawkner;
- Pram ramp upgrades;
- A disability review of all existing bus shelters;
- Public lighting improvements in five parks;
- Refuge islands on Derby Street and Glenroy Road; and
- Began works on pedestrian operated signals in Pentridge Boulevard, Coburg.
Cumberland Road Dedicated bike lanes
There was also a resolution to continue support for dedicated bike lanes on Cumberland Road long advocated by both Moreland Bicycle User Group and Moreland Council, after Pascoe Vale MP Lizzie Blandthorn backtracked on election commitments for this project.
NOM35/20 Protected cycling lanes for Cumberland Road (D20/260581)
Cr Martin moved, Cr Dorney seconded –
- Reiterates its support for the Cumberland Road protected lane to help locals get to the shops, community centres, sports fields, childcare centres and schools, safely - supplementing existing bike lanes on Gaffney and Derby Streets and shimmy routes, not replacing them.
- Notes its desire for multiple safe active travel options from the North to the South of the city as long planned for and advocated by the City.
- Notes its desire to make cycling accessible, safe and easy for residents. That this is best achieved through a clear hierarchy of cycling infrastructure, including key protected bicycle lanes and to avoid increasing danger for adults and children by merging cyclists and cars together at intersections and roundabouts.
- Reiterates its support for the extension of the West Coburg tramway via Turner and Derby Streets and retaining the availability of this alignment to safely accommodate the extension.
- Writes to the Department of Transport requesting a design solution for protected bike lanes on Cumberland Rd that retains as much car parking that is safe to do so and connects to an extended O’Hea Street Shared Path.
- Writes to the new Minister for Roads and Road Safety, the Hon. Ben Carroll, and State member for Pascoe Vale. asking them to reiterate their support for protected bike lanes on Cumberland Road and to expedite speed limit reductions on local roads in the north of the City.
- Writes to the Department of Transport, the Member for Pascoe Vale and the Minister for Roads and Road Safety, the Hon. Ben Carroll, seeking State Government approval for the Craigieburn express shared path from Devon Road to Gaffney Street.
- Encourages community engagement and consultation in making the final decision to connect safe active transport options from Coburg to Glenroy.
Background and Sources:
- Moreland Council Minutes of meeting 8th July 2020, accessed at Moreland Council website
- World Resource Instiute, April 17, 2020, Biking Provides a Critical Lifeline During the Coronavirus Crisis
- Nick Davies, Clare Cornes, Graeme Sherriff, The Conversation, May 12, 2020, How major cities are trying to keep people walking and cycling
- Pablo Guillen, Miguel Loyola, and Ursa Komac, The Converastion, August 28, 2020, What Australia can learn from bicycle-friendly cities overseas
- Matthew Mclaughlin, and Trevor Shilton, The Conversation, July 23, 2020, Cycling and walking can help drive Australia’s recovery – but not with less than 2% of transport budgets
- Ben Beck, Billie Giles-Corti, and Rebecca Ivers, The Conversation, April 29, 2020, Physical distancing is here for a while – over 100 experts call for more safe walking and cycling space