unChain has long been advocating for a safe bicycle and pedestrian route along St Kilda Rd.
St Kilda Rd is one of the main arterials for people riding bikes to the central business district. It is estimated that cyclists make over 1.2 million trips per year along St Kilda Rd.
Nevertheless it is also identified as one of the most unsafe routes in the city, including 2 of the top 10 perceived unsafe places identified by the Bike Spot project in 2016. There were 196 crashes involving a pedestrian or cyclist on St Kilda Road between 2000 and 2015, and it also has the highest number of car-doorings reported anywhere in the state.
In 2014 the City of Port Phillip released a proposal for Copenhagen-style protected lanes on the far left of the corridor, between the traffic lanes (or parking lane) and the footpath. The City of Port Phillip proposal was based on a cost benefit analysis which found:
- A positive benefit cost ratio – each $1 spent on the project would deliver a $1.134 return. The benefit cost ratio considered travel costs or savings; savings in crash costs, health benefits from increased use of active transport; environmental benefits, vehicle operating costs, construction and operating costs.
- A reduction in collisions of up to 28 per cent. The annual economic value of these avoided crashes per annum is between $1.2 million (in 2018) and $2.1 million (in 2035).
- An expected 25 per cent increase in bike riding on St Kilda Road in the first year after installation. As well as reducing congestion, this increase in bike riding contributes to a range of health benefits, estimated to be $1.05 per kilometre cycled per person.
In August 2015 the Victorian state Labor government announced a feasibility study into building protected bike lanes on St Kilda Rd.
In 2018 Labor promised to spend $27 million to make St Kilda Road safer for all users with new cycle lanes that physically separate drivers and cyclists. The Greens seem to have a similar proposal.
The new lanes will be a combination of Copenhagen-style bike lanes that run along the kerb with a physical barrier separating cyclists from both parked cars and the road, and a central safety zone that provides a separated lane for cyclists in the middle of the road while the outer lanes are reserved for vehicles.
Copenhagen-style bike lanes will be built south of St Kilda Junction from Carlisle Street, and the central safety zone will be built north of the Junction to Linlithgow Avenue.
The central safety zone will have clearways in place during peak periods, which will allow three lanes of traffic in the outer lanes so there will be very little impact on drivers travelling from Carlisle Street to Linlithgow Avenue.
This design will make St Kilda Road safer for all users and have the least impact on travel times for drivers.
This project will be completed by the time the Domain precinct reopens after Metro Tunnel works are completed in 2025.
The big problem is how to cross St Kilda Junction. unChain and the Port Phillip Bicycle Users Group will be participating in this discussion in the future. Suggestions welcome!!!