Canning Street runs north south through Carlton North from Park Street to Alexandra Parade and forms one of Melbourne’s best known and used cycling corridors.

Filtered permeability

Canning Street is a great example of how active travel can be enabled with very little formal infrastructure. Vision in the 1970s gave Canning Street the status we enjoy today when filtered permeability (road closed to people driving but people walking and cycling can pass through) was built at two locations with street closure at Curtain (see image) and Lee Streets. The resulting reduction in motorised, through traffic and the cul-de-sac environment around the Lee Street primary school enables safe walking and cycling by the local community and people cycling through to the CBD. The community also enjoys the calmed street atmosphere making regular use of the grassed median that marks Canning Street as one of Yarra’s finest streets. 

Canning St & Curtain Street. Image credit Marcus Coghlan.

Fixing dangerous intersections

In 2012 the Pigdon Street intersection on Canning Street was rebuilt to address its status as the most dangerous intersection for people cycling in all of Yarra. Now that distinction is held by the intersection further south at Richardson Street (see image). Council has resolved to address this known black spot for people riding bicycles and as of early 2019 has a proposed design that reflects the adoption of the Yarra Safe Travel Policy (2017), improves the environment for people walking and cycling whilst catering for the Richardson Street bus route and people driving through the intersection.  

Canning St & Richardson Street. Image credit Marcus Coghlan.

Further improvements needed

Whilst in a Melbourne context Canning Street may be considered a good example of a calmed street and inviting for active travel, it can still be improved when considering best practice. Canning Street still has many challenging intersections that prevent it being a safe route to school and exposes people walking and riding to errors made by people driving. The speed limit is above that considered appropriate for a cycling boulevard and given most people travel Canning Street on bicycle this should be addressed. If the priority is safe active travel then this could be emphasised more in the design of the street and further calming influences that are being adopted elsewhere in Yarra and surrounding councils.

Conclusion

Canning Street is an asset to the local community and to those people walking and using bicycles to navigate around and through Yarra. It demonstrates safe travel infrastructure doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive to work.  

Local champion

Your local champion for Swan Street is Tristan Ceccato, Yarra resident. View all of Streets Alive Yarra’s champions on our testimonials page.

Tristan Ceccato

Streets Alive Yarra is an important step in helping our community build human-scale, pedestrian/cyclist-friendly, sustainable and vibrant neighbourhoods. Our streets here in the City of Yarra are often considered some of the most cyclist and pedestrian-friendly in Australia. However, we are falling behind international best practice. There are many examples of where our street designs do not put people first and where simple and cost-effective changes to current designs can promote safer cycling and vibrant streets. Canning Street is one such example – often the poster child of Melbourne cycling; yet Canning Street is still subject to many confusing intersections for motorists and cyclists, inconsistency in design and most worryingly, many accidents. This is particularly evident at the intersection of Richardson Street, where I have lost count of the number of accidents and near misseses witnessed from my bedroom window. 

Tristan Ceccato