Bridge Road is experiencing a gradual transition. Low cost clothing outlets (that seek to attract customers from across Melbourne) are shutting down and being replaced by bars, cafes, restaurants and other businesses that seek to attract stable, repeat business from local residents.
Bridge Road has an opportunity to revitalise the street, accelerate its transition and attract more patronage. The key is to understand that on-street parking isn’t the answer – if the shopping street is attractive then people will find a way to get there.
Parking is lazy excuse as to why downtown is dead. We need to throw out our stripmall mentality and remember that if a place is worth visiting, people will find a way to get there.Revitalize, or Die
Bridge Road can attract more patronage by place making so that it forms the core of a 20-minute neighbourhood – by widening the footpaths, installing separated bicycle lanes and building level-access tram stops. On-street parking for shoppers is increased by relocating it to the first 5-10 spots on each side street, with the first spot reserved for deliveries.
Support from DELWP
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) policy is to support 20-minute neighbourhoods, where the goods and services required for a quality life can be accessed by a 20-minute walk. Bridge Road can form the core of a 20-minute neighbourhood in Richmond.
Support from VicRoads and the RACV
VicRoads have designated Bridge Road as a Strategic Cycling Corridor, and the RACV have nominated Bridge Road as a bicycle superhighway. Both Strategic Cycling Corridors and bicycle superhighways require a protected bicycle lane, capable of carrying a large number of people and enabling them to be used by a wide range of cyclists, not just the brave.
Better for commuters
A best-practice bicycle lane can carry more than double the commuters in peak hour than a clearway lane. If more people choose to cycle to the city instead of driving then there is more space in the vehicle lane for cars, which is better for those who need to drive.
An example of how Bridge Road can look like can be seen from these photos of the recently improved tram stop on Carlisle Street St Kilda. Note the wider footpaths, and the separated bicycle lane continuing over the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) compliant level access tram stop. A best-practice bicycle lane would be wider, e.g. 2.3 m:
Learn more from this collection of design guides, including David Mepham’s guide (commissioned by Victoria Walks) to improving Main Streets: