Johnston Street is an east-west shopping street in Fitzroy, Collingwood and Abbotsford.

Location of Johnston Street. Image credit: Apple Maps, Streets Alive Yarra.

Designated as a Strategic Cycling Corridor

The state government has designated Johnston Street as a Strategic Cycling Corridor, from Carlton leading to Kew:

Strategic Cycling Corridors. Image credit: State Government, highlight from Streets Alive Yarra.

Existing conditions

At the moment, Johnston Street is unsafe for biking, with people on bikes trapped between car doors and high speed motor vehicles.

I live 100 m from here [Johnston Street]; (a) when the bus lane ISN’T a bus lane parked cars dictate that buses weave in and out of lanes; (b) when the bus lane IS a bus lane slow moving cars use the bus lane and slow everything down. Meanwhile the middle lane is a weird unpredictable mess.

Dr Daniel Quinn on Twitter
Johnston Street looking toward city. Image credit: Google Maps.


Johnston Street used to have trams:

Trams on Johnston Street. Image source: Lachlan Smith on Twitter.

Suggestions for street design

One suggestion is to add a bi-directional bike lane, by removing one of the three vehicle lanes.

Johnston Street with a bi-directional bike lane. Image credit: Streetmix.

Another suggestion is widen footpaths and add a protected bike lane to each side, with buses sharing a lane with cars. To prevent buses from being delayed by cars in peak hour, the state government could employ demand responsive driving charges.

Johnston Street with wider footpaths and protected bike lanes. Image credit: Streetmix.

At bus stops, the bike lane could bend behind the bus stop, as occurs in London:

Near Chalk Farm Station. Image credit: unknown.

Sign the petition to support protected bike lanes from Kew to Carlton

Johnston Street is designated as a Strategic Cycling Corridor and deserves protected bike lanes. Learn more and sign the petition:

Image credit: Harrison Watt

History – Johnston Street Local Area Plan

The Johnston Street Local Area Plan was adopted in 2015, after being considered by council on 5th June 2012, noting that residents wanted to reduce the impact of through traffic.

Image credit: City of Yarra agenda 5th June 2012.

The public realm along Johnston Street is characterised by the busy traffic environment and relatively bare, narrow footpaths with few trees or landscape elements. The physical nature of Johnston Street sees much of the street space devoted to the road and very little for footpaths and public spaces.

Johnston Street Local Area Plan 2015

The study area is well served by public transport having excellent access to the Principal Public Transport Network (PPTN) through the bus and train network, as well as trams on the edge of the study area (Smith Street). Victoria Park Station is a key strategic element in the future planning for Johnston Street, providing future residents with access to the train system.

Johnston StreetLocal Area Plan 2015

North-south cycle routes throughout the study area include Nicholson Street, Abbotsford through to Clifton Hill via Trenerry Crescent and Rich Street.

Johnston StreetLocal Area Plan 2015

High volumes of cars and commercial vehicles have a negative impact on the amenity and comfort of pedestrians and cyclists on Johnston and Hoddle Streets. Traffic volumes are likely to continue to increase as Melbourne’s population also increases, unless sustainable modes of transport are more effectively promoted and utilised.

Johnston StreetLocal Area Plan 2015

Promoting sustainable forms of transport is a significant opportunity for managing congestion within the study area.

Johnston StreetLocal Area Plan 2015
Johnston Street Local Area Plan. Image credit: City of Yarra.

Crossing Johnston Street at Nicholson Street

Crossing Johnston Street is a problem for people biking north-south between Trenerry Crescent and Nicholson Street. The recent BikeSpot survey showed that many people consider it to be dangerous.

Image credit: BikeSpot

A preferred solution is for the entire intersection to be painted with diagonal white lines, and a pedestrian/cyclist only phase introduced at the lights. Otherwise, a pedestrian/cyclist crossing should be added to the eastern side of the intersection. This would allow all cyclist and pedestrian traffic to cross with a single crossing, instead of being required to wait for 2 cycles of lights on some occasions. In practice people don’t wait for lights and sometimes diagonally cross Nicholson Street. To help people moving between Rich Street and the intersection, the preferred option is to convert the northern vehicle lane to a bi-directional cycling lane between Rich Street and Nicholson Street. An alternative is to permit bi-directional cycling on the northern footpath of Johnston, between Rich Street and Nicholson Street.

Person cycling south, crossing Johnston at the lights. Image credit: Steve Nurse.
Person continuing south on the footpath (to avoid a second wait at the lights), before crossing Nicholson to reach the bicycle lane heading south. Image credit: Steve Nurse.

Local champion

Your local champion for Johnston Street is Harrison Watt, Yarra resident. View all of Streets Alive Yarra’s champions on our supporters page.

Having previously lived in Copenhagen, Denmark, I am a strong advocate of commuting by bike – it’s quick, cheap and has the lowest carbon footprint. We need to emulate this design thinking here in Yarra, and start prioritising active transport over cars. Car parks and additional lanes are an inefficient use of space, and should be repurposed in favour of kerbside protected bike lanes, larger footpaths and open public space. Johnston St is a highly frequented bike route with access to the popular Yarra Boulevard in Kew, however, it is currently unsafe with a high risk of “dooring” by cars, cracks in the bitumen and no dedicated bike lanes. It is currently used as a major car thoroughfare with 4 lanes of traffic, creating unnecessary noise and air pollution through the middle of Fitzroy, Collingwood and Abbotsford. Streets Alive Yarra is a much needed step to improve this street and help build a more liveable Yarra.

Harrison Watt