Brunswick Street North is a residential street in the Local Area Place Making (LAPM) precinct of Scotchmer.

Location of Brunswick Street North. Image background: Apple Maps.
Looking north on Brunswick Street North. Image credit: Google Maps.

Rat running

Local residents suffer from a lot of rat running, i.e. through traffic that is attempting to avoid congestion on nearby arterials. This increases noise, pollution and risk for local residents, such as children walking or cycling to school. Rat running occurs when drivers turn right from Holden Street into Brunswick Street North, then drive south along the residential street until joining onto St Georges Road. Local residents have been asking Council to address this issue since 2007.

  • 2006 Rae Street median barrier installed
  • 2007 Brunswick Street North (BSN) residents raise concern regarding 12.5% increase in BSN traffic volume as a result of the Rae Street median barrier diverting traffic onto BSN
  • 2008 …
  • 2009 …
  • 2010 …
  • 2011 …
  • 2012 Advised best avenue for addressing traffic volume is via Local Area Traffic Management (LATM) study
  • 2013 LATM not funded
  • 2014 LATM not funded
  • 2015 LATM not funded
  • 2016 LATM not funded
  • 2017 Local Area Place Making (LAPM) study (replacement of LATM) for LAPM area #3 Scotchmer funded after long standing advocacy by residents
  • 2018 LAPM study progresses
  • 2019 LAPM study concludes, no solution offered for traffic volume on BSN. Owing to residents protest, on 5th March councillors vote unanimously to amend LAPM report to include a trial of a median barrier covering BSN and Dean Street. Report from GTA consultants concludes that proposed median barrier is not expected to have an adverse impact on the operation of the surrounding road network. Trial commences of a ‘No Right Turn’ sign (not a median barrier) from Holden Street into BSN.
  • 2020 Department of Transport (DoT) report does not support trial installation of a median barrier, owing to the adverse impact on the surrounding road network.
  • 2021 Project update with proposal for kerb extensions, a splitter island treatment, cut out garden beds and installation of bike sharrows.
LAPM review identified rat running and high traffic speeds on Brunswick Street North. Image credit: LAPM review, City of Yarra.
DoT report that did not support the trial of a median barrier on Holden Street. Image credit: DoT.

2021 project update

In August 2021 council released a project update, proposing kerb extensions, a splitter island treatment, cut out garden beds and installation of bike sharrows. Council claim that that the treatments will provide a traffic slowing effect that is similar to a mid-block slow point.

Proposed treatments. Image credit: City of Yarra.
Proposed treatments. Image credit: City of Yarra.

Our view

Our view is that the DoT report that did not support the trial of a median barrier, did not reflect the DoT strategic plan or the Movement and Place framework. Through traffic should use Preferred Traffic Routes (PTRs) and arterial roads, not residential streets, and the DoT should support treatments that deliver this outcome, such as median barriers within 20-minute neighbourhoods. If congestion on arterials is too high, then the DoT should invest in more public transport and impose demand responsive driving charges, not recommend against treatments that prevent rat running.

Our view is that the LAPM report which recommended against closing Brunswick Street North between the Capital City Trail and Holden Street, and converting the space into parkland, owing to the 12% of the community who did not support the idea, represents poor methodology for community consultation. It’s much more effective to use tactical urbanism to let residents experience a change, before they are asked for their opinion. In most cases, residents realise that the proposed traffic calming is, on balance, much better than they had expected.

Our view is that council’s proposed treatments, including kerb extensions, a splitter island treatment, cut out garden beds and installation of bike sharrows, represent a good step forward. While they won’t block through traffic, they will narrow the street, which will encourage drivers to slow down, as well as adding gardens with vegetation.

Our view is that council should also formally support 30 km/h for the area.

LAPM 3 Scotchmer as a 30 km/h superblock. Image credit: Google Maps, City of Yarra and Streets Alive Yarra.

Local champion

Your local champion for Brunswick Street North is Lisa Byrne – Yarra resident. View all of Streets Alive Yarra’s champions on our supporters page.

I first bought a residential property in Fitzroy North in the late 90s and live in that property with my partner. I also co-own a residential rental property in Richmond which I purchased in the early 2000s. In that time, I have seen both areas grow and change significantly with the growth of the City of Melbourne, the proximity of City of Yarra to public transport, bicycle paths as well as the CBD. I am passionate about seeing the area support appropriate inner city growth while balancing, improving and respecting the safety and livelihoods of those who live in the streets of City of Yarra, with a strong focus on walking and cycling for both adults and children for education, work, sporting activities, dining and cafes, or simply to meet up with friends.

Lisa Byrne