Trenerry Crescent offers a way for drivers to avoid the primary north-south driving route of adjacent Hoddle Street, while also acting as the primary north-south cycling route, or Strategic Cycling Corridor, in this part of Yarra.
The existing design of Trenerry Crescent creates significant hazards for people walking and cycling, with a risk of being struck by a motor vehicle. The dip and twist of the street decreases the ability of drivers to see and avoid people who are cycling. A painted cycle lane exists on the west side, and is too narrow to offer any protection. On the east side, not even a painted lane is offered. The metal safety barrier between the vehicle lane and the footpath suggests that vehicles can leave their lane, and thus need protection from crossing the footpath and falling down the slope, indicating that people cycling are also at significant risk. In addition, locating vehicles so close to the footpath impacts upon the amenity of people walking.
On 23rd June 2020 an Officer Report recommended the trial closure of Trenerry Crescent to vehicle traffic at the Eastern Freeway.
The Officer Report provided multiple justifications, including:
- Responds to immediate physical distancing issue on adjacent Capital City and Merri Creek trails by providing additional space.
- Responds to a missing link in strategic cycle network given safety and amenity issues for cyclists sharing this section of the street with road traffic.
- Responds to safer routes to local schools for non-car traffic.
- Provides indirect response to other safety issues in surrounding streets due to a reduced level of traffic.
Officers also noted:
- No loss of parking.
- For some journeys, it would require the local community to travel further by car. Travel times on adjacent arterials are much lower in current context.
On 18th August 2020 Councillors considered the results of community consultation, and then resolved not to proceed with the trial.
Opening a road to walking and cycling
The Council Officer report recommended a modal filter, which blocks one traffic mode (driving) but allow others (walking and cycling). This effectively opens the road to walking and cycling, as most people (i.e. everyone except for the 3% of people who are classed “strong and fearless“) consider the existing conditions to be unsafe.
Why not use the trails?
The existing Main Yarra Trail and Merri Creek Trail are overcrowded, and really only intended for slow speed use, such as walking, and slow cycling with children. River trails and shared paths are not suitable for high volumes of commuter or utility cycling. The intent of the trial was to make the adjacent on-street strategic cycling corridor safer and more attractive, thus encouraging it to be used in preference, thus leaving more space on the trails for people walking.
Why not use the overpass?
The existing overpass is a footbridge that is only approved for people walking. It’s not even compliant with modern disability access standards, which limit the maximum slope and require regular horizontal areas as rest stops.
An overpass for both walking and cycling would be similar to the Jan Linzel viaduct, shown in the following video. The problem is that this overpass is reported to have costed 12 million Euro and took 9 years to deliver, compared with the $18 thousand cost for a 3 month trial of the road closure.
Why not retractable bollards?
Another option would be to use retractable bollards, as used in the Netherlands, which can allow a car through every 30 seconds. This would enable local residents to drive through, while dissuading commuter traffic. The problem is that such bollards would cost over a million dollars and take more than a year to plan, approve and install.
Why conduct a trial?
Trials are enormously valuable because they allow residents of all ages and abilities to experience the proposed new design, instead of struggling to interpret or imagine engineering drawings. The Western Australia Department of Transport reports that after their trial of a road closure, residents who opposed the works initially are now supportive, because the quieter streets are much more family friendly.
Streets Alive Yarra supported the proposed trial of the closure of Trenerry Crescent to vehicle traffic, because it was a low cost trial for a limited duration, using an effective method of improving safety and amenity for people cycling, and liveability for local residents. It was worth giving a go. We acknowledge that this would have required some driving trips to deviate to the adjacent Hoddle Street. In future, when considering road closures, we recommend that Council uses a citizen jury or deliberative panel to enable residents to consider all information and review the proposal in depth.
Crossing Johnston Street
The other problem is how to cycle between Trenerry Crescent and Nicholson Street, i.e. to cross Johnston Street. The Yarra cycling map recommends that people use Turner Street and Rich Street.
People cycling south down Trenerry Crescent are guided to cross into Bath Street, and from there into Turner Street and Rich Street. Opportunities for improvement are available at the intersections of Bath/Turner, Turner/Rich, Rich/Johnston and Johnston/Nicholson.
Intersection at Bath/Turner
The problem is that people cycling (or driving) south are expected to stop at the painted line, which doesn’t offer a clear view of traffic on Turner Street. The solution is to move the painted line further forward, in line with the parked cars on either side.
Image credit: Streets Alive Yarra and Google Maps.
Intersection at Turner/Rich
Sight lines at the intersection of Rich Street and Turner Street can be improved in a similar manner.
Image credit: Streets Alive Yarra and Google Maps.
Intersection at Rich/Johnston/Nicholson
Crossing Johnston Street is a lot more difficult. The recent BikeSpot survey showed that many people consider it to be dangerous.
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.
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