How can we keep traffic flowing?

Yarra’s streets can be better for drivers if traffic keeps flowing smoothly, i.e. if we can decrease congestion.

Congestion on a shopping street. Image credit: Swan Street Traders

Population, congestion and gridlock

Our population is increasing and congestion is getting worse. Our streets can’t fit more cars. Even worse, traffic congestion is non-linear, meaning that every 10% increase in the number of cars leads to a more than 10% increase in travel time. We can already see severe congestion on some streets. At our existing rate of growth, we’ll have gridlock on many streets in Yarra before 2030. It takes a long time to plan, consult, design, finance and build new transport infrastructure to solve this problem, so we need to start now.

Image credit: Infrastructure Victoria

Solutions

The solution is to offer alternatives – integrated and cohesive networks for walkingcycling and public transport – so that people who are willing to ‘have a go’ with other modes are able to, thus freeing up space for those who need to drive. In other words, investing in walking, cycling and public transport will help make Yarra better for drivers. These improved alternatives can be introduced alongside demand responsive driving charges and demand responsive parking charges, to encourage driving and parking to be shifted from peak hours to off-peak hours.

How other modes can help

Different transport modes require different amounts of space:

Source: City of Melbourne Transport Discussion Paper

If other modes are allocated a reasonable amount of street space, they can carry more people than a vehicle lane, especially during peak hour. Clearly, walking, cycling and public transport don’t suit everyone. However, if done well, enough people will choose them for short journeys, e.g. walking 2 km or cycling 5 km, which could include many trips to work.

Source: VicRoads

Support from Infrastructure Victoria

People won’t change modes unless the new option is safe and convenient. This requires some reallocation of street space, e.g. away from on-street parking and toward protected bicycle lanes or protected public transport stops. In turn, this requires targeted investment, as recommended by Infrastructure Victoria. Note that on-street car parking can still be retained for shopping streets by relocating the parking to the first 5-10 bays on each side street.

Source: Infrastructure Victoria, Five-Year Focus, Immediate actions to tackle congestion, April 2018

Support from the RACV

Victoria’s motoring organisation, the RACV, supports wider footpaths and separated bicycle lanes for Sydney Road in Brunswick, because they realise that congestion will be reduced. The same logic applies to reducing congestion on any shopping street in Yarra.

Conclusion

Yarra’s streets can be better for drivers if some space is reallocated to walking, cycling and public transport, supported by car sharing.