Studley and Yarra Streets are in Abbotsford, of note because of their narrow width.

Location of Studley and Yarra Streets in Abbotsford. Source: Apple Maps and Streets Alive Yarra.

Parking on the footpath

On Yarra Street, east of Nicholson, marked parking bays extend onto the footpath:

Parking on the footpath on Yarra Street, east of Nicholson Street. Source: Google Maps.

On Studley Street, cars are parked on the footpath, in the absence of marked parking bays:

Parking on the footpath on Studley Street, west of Nicholson Street. Source: Google Maps.

Council discussion

At the 17th December 2019 council meeting, Councillors considered the option to remove parking from one side of each street, to ensure fire trucks had enough space to safely access each home on the street. Councillors resolved to consult further with the community before deciding.

Community consultation

On Thursday 20th February 2020 Council Officers hosted a community consultation session, and clarified that:

  • Fire trucks are 2.5 metres wide and need 0.5 metres of space on each side to open doors and access equipment, for a total width requirement of 3.5 metres.
  • Australian Standards, Austroads guidelines and VicRoads guidelines recommend a minimum footpath width of 1.5 metres, which allows a person on a wheelchair to pass a person pushing a pram.
  • Parking occupancy at 11pm on Wednesday and Saturday nights is 55-65%.

Assessment

The allocation of space on Studley Street and Yarra Street in Abbotsford is important because it goes to the core of our values and priorities as a community, and because the two streets can act as a precedent for other narrow streets in Yarra. As described in ‘about us‘, we believe that people should be able to safely access every property in Yarra, irrespective of whether they choose to walk, cycle, use public transport or drive. Our streets are public land that should prioritise safe access over the storage of private objects – indeed this principle is replicated in many of Yarra’s adopted policies.

Safe access includes safe access for fire trucks, and safe access on footpaths that are at least 1.5 metres wide. When footpaths are already narrower than 1.5 metres, they should not be narrowed further, e.g. by permitting parking on the footpath.

Considering the above, it appears that the only reasonable solution is to restrict on-street parking to one side of the street. This would enable fire trucks to access each home on the street, and would not reduce the existing footpath width. As the parking occupancy for residents (measured at 11pm) is 55-65% it suggests that halving the supply of parking bays can be accommodated.

It’s not reasonable to permit parking on both sides of the street, or parking on the footpath, because it wouldn’t deliver the required 3.5 metres of clear space, and because it would unreasonably reduce the width of the footpath.

Further improvements

From this baseline, further improvements can be identified, including:

  • Moving trees from the footpath to bump-outs in the road reserve, to increase the useable footpath width.
  • Moving all poles to a consistent location near the kerb, to increase the useable footpath width. 
  • Increasing the number of trees in the street, to increase shade and decrease the urban heat island effect.
  • Locating sets of parking bays on alternating sides of the street, creating a chicane on the street. This would reduce the line of sight for drivers, encouraging them to slow down. In turn, this improves safety for people walking and cycling.
Example of alternating the location of parking bays to create a chicane, to reduce vehicle speeds. Source: https://nacto.org/publication/urban-street-stormwater-guide/stormwater-streets/residential-street/.

Read our full submission

Download and read our full submission:

Conclusion

Council should adopt the Officer Recommendation from the 17th December 2019 that parking should not be permitted on both sides of Studley Street or Yarra Street. From this baseline, Council should consider other improvements to the street, including using parking on alternating sides to create a chicane that slows drivers, and adding more trees to bump outs in the street.

Additional improvements can also apply to the whole of Yarra, including:

  • Designating all on-street parking in residential streets as permit only. 
  • Increasing the price for permits to $1 per day.
  • Making short term visitor parking permits available online, on demand, linked to a vehicles registration.
  • Developing a Council Policy that footpaths narrower than 1.5 m should not be narrowed further.
  • Developing a Council Policy for parking in narrow streets, similar to that from the City of Moonee Valley.
  • Designate one parking bay on every residential street for a car sharing vehicle, to make it easier for residents to downsize the number of private cars and decrease the demand for on-street parking of private cars.
  • Designate one parking bay on every residential street as a weather protected location to park up to twenty bicycles, to make it easier for residents to downsize the number of private cars and decrease the demand for on-street parking of private cars.