Church Street is a major north-south street in Yarra, running from the Yarra river in the south to Victoria Street in the north, with major intersections at Swan Street and Bridge Road. It hosts shops, churches and schools. South of the City of Yarra, Church Street continues down to St Kilda, but changes its name to Chapel Street.
27-year old Gitta Scheenhouwer was killed in broad daylight on Chapel Street, while cycling in the painted bicycle lane. The problem is that cyclists are forced to ride in an unprotected lane, vulnerable to either a swerving car or an opening car door. These hazards carry the risk of serious injury or death, if a motorist makes the simple mistake of failing to look.
Need for change
As Bicycle Network’s CEO Craig Richards states, Chapel Street really needs to see a change, with Mayor of Stonnington Steven Stefanopoulos backing the idea:
Church Street and Chapel Street should have wider footpaths, separated bicycle lanes and level-access tram stops that protect passengers from overtaking vehicles. This would bring the street alive, by attracting more people to visit, shop and linger. In addition, the separated bicycle lane would carry more commuters in peak hour than the clearway lane.
Church Street is even wide enough to support a pedestrian refuge in the centre, helping people to cross safely. The key is to reallocate street space away from stationary parked vehicles and toward transport modes that are more space efficient, including walking and cycling.
Chapel Street (and similarly, Church Street) doesn’t suffer from a lack of parking, as shown by the www.chapelstreetparking.com.au website and posters:
Support from the RACV
With these changes, Church Street and Chapel Street could act as a major north-south “bicycle superhighway” linking Abbotsford to St Kilda, complementing the north-south vehicle route on Punt Road. World class cities such as London are benefiting from their cycle superhighways – Yarra can do this too.