YARRA City Council this week endorsed a proposal for Wellington Street in Collingwood to become the first road in Yarra to have separated 'Copenhagen-style' bicycle lanes, with work to now commence on preparing detailed design plans.
Mayor Jackie Fristacky welcomed the decision as an example of the Council's commitment to encouraging more people to ride bicycles and to supporting world class infrastructure for cyclists, adding that the City of Yarra has the highest proportion of people who cycle to work in Australia.
The bicycle lanes are proposed to be constructed on Wellington Street, between Victoria Parade and Johnston Street. Most of the existing parking spaces on the eastern side of Wellington Street are expected to be retained, however it is expected that up to 117 car parking spaces will be lost along the street.
Cr Fristacky said that in deciding to endorse the proposal, the Council needed to balance its long-term vision for improving cycling infrastructure against the impacts on nearby businesses and residents from a reduction in 117 parking spaces.
"Our aim, as set out in our Bicycle Strategy, is for Yarra to double the rate of residents cycling to work from 6.4 per cent to 15 per cent by 2015. This is not only a healthy option but helps to reduce traffic congestion on our local roads," the Mayor said.
According to the Council, cyclist numbers on Wellington Street have been growing about 20 per cent per year for the past eight years, with counts showing 416 city-bound cyclists riding between the Johnston Street to Victoria Parade section in the two hour morning peak period.
"One of the biggest barriers to people choosing to travel around the inner city on a bicycle however is safety concerns. If Council is serious about encouraging more people to ride bicycles in Yarra then we need to support world class infrastructure that is as safe and efficient as it can be," Cr Fristacky said.
"Council also has a responsibility to protect the interests of traders so we intend to closely monitor the effects these lanes have on nearby businesses, and if there are impacts then we are willing to work with those businesses to address them."
Detailed designs for the lanes are expected to be subject to further Council approvals later this year.