A new ten-year transport plan put forward by the City of Melbourne plans to create more space for pedestrians and cyclists in the CBD.
Last year the City of Melbourne found that 54 per cent of Melburnians were feeling overcrowded on footpaths. The Draft Transport Strategy 2030 is aimed at providing more space for pedestrians on footpaths and around major transport hubs.
Melbourne’s population is set to double in the next 30 years so pre-planning for this is a high priority for the City of Melbourne team.
So what can we expect if the plan goes ahead? First, the little streets of Melbourne – Little Lonsdale, Little Bourke, Little Collins and Little Flinders AKA Flinders Lane – could be converted into "pedestrian-priority shared zones" which would mean lowered speed limits (from 40km/hr to 30km/hr) for cars.
Second, the plan wants to reduce congestion in the central city by encouraging drivers to avoid this area. In a statement released today, lord mayor Sally Capp said: "We know that 43 per cent of cars in the Hoddle Grid are passing through the city, adding to congestion. We want to see this through traffic reduced and the draft strategy includes actions to provide people with alternatives."
The plan suggests repurposing a chunk of public road and on-street parking spaces ("the equivalent of 20 Bourke Street malls worth") to create more space for pedestrians, cyclists, trading, greenery and more.
The plan also suggests an additional 300 motorcycle parking bays be included on streets to reduce footpath parking. Plus, more than 50 kilometres of protected on-road bicycle lanes could be headed to key roads in the CBD.
While the plan aims to reduce the number of cars coming in and out of the city, the strategy does mention the need to maintain access for "essential car trips". This could mean travel for people with a disability, space for emergency vehicles and also delivery and trade vehicles.
Capp believes that by increasing pedestrian connectivity, this would mean better business to Melbourne’s retail economy and café culture.
The draft plan is set to be considered by councillors at the Future Melbourne Committee meeting next Tuesday, May 7. If it’s given the go-ahead, the plan will be released for public consultation and feedback.