Saturday’s Sydney Road bike forum

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.


  1. Hi,
    As a bike rider down Sydney road for 30 years I love it. A thought that is a little way out is:
    Q: Has anyone thought of making Sydney road one way and Lygon Street the other?

  2. Thanks for posting Nancy
    Interesting to have all the difficulties about Sydney Rd so clearly stated
    Fascinating to hear most traffic is local. It seemed so but the evidence makes it more powerful. I love the idea of replacing the parking/clearway with bike lanes

    1. The details of the traffic flow are in the presentation which is now on the Council website

  3. Charlotte Clements · · Reply

    Thanks for the notes from the meeting. I wish I had known about it – sounds like it was well planned. My thoughts about the pedestrian mall between Victoria and Albert are that, while I like the idea, I am sure it will force more vehicles onto the eastern parts Victoria and Albert which are already becoming congested and where there are not adequate egress options.
    I would love to see a pedestrian mall on Sydney Rd between Barkly St. and Weston St. or even to Glenlyon Rd/Dawson St. with the Barnes crossings at each end. Ideally it would be closed to all motorised vehicles except trams, with slow traffic allowed between 11 pm and 6 am perhaps.
    With the Barkly Sq carpark and Ewing St to the east, there are options for vehicles to avoid that part of Sydney Rd. The major tram stop at Brunswick Rd could perhaps also be relocated to the north of Barkly St to provide safer access to trams and concentrate foot traffic in the mall.
    A pedestrian mall could allow for sharing with cycles and may also reap benefits for businesses on the west side of Sydney Rd.

  4. AnnMarie Brennan · · Reply

    This last comment really makes me angry:
    “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).”

    If developers are given permits to build apartment buildings in this area, I think that it should be mandatory that developers contribute to the upgrade of the infrastructure in order to maintain their development. At this point in time, it seems to be voluntary, and the comment above in regard to Neometro demonstrates that now it has to be made as a condition of permits.

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