Moreland Council ran a four-hour forum last Saturday on ways to make Sydney Road and the Upfield Shared path better and safer.
A senior Council traffic engineer gave a presentation explaining all the reasons that make it hard to fix Sydney Road. Then we broke into discussion groups around tables with a Council representative, who presumably took notes, but in any case we’ll include a report about what happened at our table.
The Council presentation
Lee Dowler gave a background presentation which he will post on the Council website.
Some interesting points included:
- Sydney Road is very narrow for its many functions – 14 to 14.5 metres kerb to kerb. It’s not possible to provide optimum space for all users – trams, motor vehicles, bikes and pedestrians.
- It has three different managers – Yarra Trams run the area between the yellow lines, VicRoads have the rest of the road, and the Council has the footpath, and shares lighting responsibility with VicRoads.
- In addition, various utilities use the ground underneath to run pipes and cables. (in our small group discussion we heard that this sometimes involves digging up road or footpaths. If this is for an “emergency”, Council doesnt have to be notified, which can result in substandard work when the surface is replaced).
- From January 2010 to December 204, there were 188 casualties in Sydney Road accidents – including 2 deaths and 51 serious injuries. 47 were cyclists and 28 were pedestrians.
- Interestingly, much of the traffic along Sydney Road is local. Only 13% of cars entering Sydney Road at the south end, go all the way to Bell Street.
Small Group discussion
At our table were people active in the Brunswick Residents Network, the Moreland Bicycle Users Group (BUG), and Safer Cycling Sydney Road ias well as residents not in any particuar organisations. We were in agreement about a lot of things regarding Sydney Road, including
- We should ask Yarra Trams to start working on the superstops now (already planned for Sydney Road at some unknown time in the future) to provide a permanent basis for any other works.
- Any plan that significantly improves bike safety, requires the clearways to be removed.
- These first two points require decision at State Government level so we need local MP Jane Garrett to support us.
- The evidence presented that most Sydney Road traffic is local traffic, is important in this respect.
- Footpaths are already sometimes at capacity so need to be at least their current width.
- Any solution has to make it easy for pedestrians to cross (in addition to existing crossings).
- The type of crossing where everyone goes all ways at once (technically called Barnes Crossing) should be considered at some of the Sydney Rd intersections.
- If Sydney Road parking is removed, prominent signage can direct cars to empty spaces nearby as carparks via newly installed technology.
- The Safer Cycling Sydney Road people had a well-researched proposal for a cycle lane to replace the parking/clearway lane which was sympathetically received by those at our table.
Council representatives said at this stage everything was ‘on the table’.
We also discussed the possibility of a mall – maybe initially, between Albert and Victoria. Apparently the 2007 Council proposal to make Sydney Rd a mall from Bell Street, was rejected at State Government level at that time.
The cycle of the traffic lights at Victoria and Albert Street were discussed. Apparently they are currently on a system which reacts to demand – so the more traffic using the side streets, the more the lights are green.
We discussed the Upfield path but the problems there – width, crowds, lighting, path quality – are fairly clear. The need for major developers along the to pay for upgrades was raised (Neometro, at Jewell Station, rejected the recommendation from a community consultation that they include separated pedestrian and cyclist paths in their section).
Report from notes by Nancy Atkin. Please add a comment with anything else you think was important, as I didn’t write down everything.