Elizabeth Street is an east-west street in North Richmond, between Hoddle Street and Church Street. To the east, over Hoddle Street, it links to Albert Street, which hosts separated and then protected bicycle lanes heading into the central business district.

Image credit: Apple Maps and Streets Alive Yarra

Existing conditions

At the moment, Elizabeth Street hosts bicycle lanes located in the ‘dooring zone’ of the parked cars, which exposes people who cycle to hazards that carry the risk of serious injury or death. Such ‘door zone’ bicycle lane designs don’t comply with Austroads or VicRoads guidelines, and dissuade many people from cycling.

Elizabeth Street looking west to the train line and Hoddle Street. Image credit: Google Maps.

Iterative trial

On th 3rd December 2019, Council resolved to conduct:

a 12 month ‘iterative trial’ to deliver protected bike lanes on Elizabeth Street as part of a regional cycling route in a timely manner.

Council minutes 3rd December 2019

Council will first build a ‘trial’ or low-cost, temporary street layout:

Elizabeth Street proposed trial layout. Source: Agenda 3rd December 2019.

After the 12-month trial, if community feedback is positive, Council will convert this into a higher-cost, permanent treatment, with more trees:

Elizabeth Street proposed final treatment. Source: Agenda 3rd December 2019.

Streets Alive Yarra’s take

We agree with the Council Report:

Project delivery processes and funding allowances for sustainable transport projects have not kept pace with development and population growth resulting in increased congestion, increased conflict between transport modes and a reduction in the attractiveness of traveling by active transport modes and sustainable transport. These trends will continue to worsen unless Council adopts processes and practices that better match the policy intent, so that key transport projects can be delivered more quickly and more cheaply.

We agree that an ‘iterative trial’ approach is a great way to allow residents and ratepayers to experience the proposal in a fast, low-cost manner, before Council spends more money on a higher-cost, permanent installation.

Paradigm shift for community engagement

If successful, the ‘iterative trial’ approach could dramatically improve the whole process of community engagement, or interaction between Council and residents. Instead of asking residents to support plans that only engineers can understand, they can try out the idea for themselves before being asked for feedback. The whole process can be faster, lower cost and less stressful, benefiting both Council and ratepayers.

We applaud Council for adopting this new approach, and look forward to the trial.