Highett Street is an east-west council controlled street in Richmond, often used as a rat run to avoid congestion on Bridge Road.

Highett Street location. Image credit: Apple Maps, Streets Alive Yarra.

Intersection at Highett and Church

In September 2021 the state government Department of Transport spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to change the design of the intersection to improve safety. The two largest risks at the intersection were:

  • Being struck by a driver when walking from the footpath to the island
  • Being struck by a driver when cycling west along Highett
Risks at the intersection of Highett and Church. Image credit: NearMap, Streets Alive Yarra.

If the community had been invited to contribute suggestions, Streets Alive Yarra would have asked for:

  • the slip lane to be eliminated
  • the pedestrian crossing distance to be reduced (by reducing the number of traffic lanes)
  • the bike lane to continue along the left
Design proposal from Streets Alive Yarra. Image credit: NearMap, Streets Alive Yarra.

The DoT removed the slip lane and relocated the traffic light poles. This investment delivered a poor outcome:

  • The pedestrian crossing distance increased from 13 metres to 20 metres.
  • The vehicle / bike collision risk was not eliminated, where drivers drive over the bike lane to reach the left-turn lane, at approximately 30 metres before the intersection.
Old crossing distance 13 metres. Image credit: NearMap.
New crossing distance 20 metres. Image credit: NearMap.
People riding bikes are still exposed to the hazard of being struck by a person driving a vehicle, who is crossing the bike lane to reach the vehicle left-turn lane. Image credit: Streets Alive Yarra.

Now that hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spend to move the traffic light poles, and re-build the kerb and channel, the challenge is not to prosecute how it should have been designed, but rather how to best fix it for the least additional cost. This is our proposal. Use paint to locate the bike lane on the left, and consolidate the three vehicle lanes into two.

Image credits: NearMap, Streets Alive Yarra.

The DoT will likely claim that three vehicle lanes are required (left-turn, straight, right-turn) because the street carries a high volume of traffic and consolidating to two lanes would result in an unacceptably low level of service. This argument would be wrong. Highett Street is a neighbourhood street, not a declared arterial. On a network level, it should not carry a high volume of traffic. It should not be a rat run for drivers avoiding Bridge Road. It should support safe access to neighbourhood facilities such as Richmond High School, Lynall Hall Community School, and Citizens Park. Highett Street does not need three vehicle lanes. If it slows traffic then this is a feature, not a bug. We want low volumes of traffic on our neighbourhood streets.

Dangerous steel plate

Another issue on Highett Street is a steel plate, inset into the street, just to the west of Church Street. People biking report that it is a hazard. It’s been there for more than 6 months and needs to be fixed.

Steel plate in Highett Street. Image credit: Michael Bond.

Walkway to Freeman Street

There’s a narrow pedestrian walkway between Highett Street and Freeman Street.

Looking south from Highett Street to Freeman Street. Image credit: Apple Maps.

In 2024 Council added lighting, following a suggestion from local users:

Lighting added to path. Looking north from Freeman Street to Highett Street. Image credit: Stuart Hamilton on Facebook.

How you can help

You can help by appearing on the Streets Alive Yarra website as a champion for your local street, neighbourhood, or school.

Let’s build a beautiful, liveable and accessible city