In its most recent budget, the Victorian government gave no new money to cycling. None. Can you believe that? Bicycle Victoria and the Victorian Bicycle User Groups are about to start a year-long campaign to restore the funding.
The Veloway would cost $21 million to join 2km between two stations, with no stop offs in between. That’s almost double Vicroads’ bike budget last financial year and over 20 times the $2.4 million the City of Melbourne is proposing to spend on a separated bike lane from Exhibition Street all the way to Docklands.
My concern is this: Melbourne’s bike network has missing gaps all over the place, particularly coming from the south into the city. There are already cyclists on the roads, often riding in very hostile conditions. If bike advocates get their act together about the slashing of the bike budget, the state government may see this flashy project as a way of easing the pressure and saying they are doing something for cyclists, without pissing off the car lobby. And they’ll do nothing about the problems on routes cyclists are already using!
I’m also worried that once built, the highway won’t really be used, and then it will be used as a further excuse to avoid investing in bike infrastructure, if the government ever needed one. It seems to only connect to the CBD at two points: Flinders Street and Spencer Street. But I think most cyclists go into the city, not past it. What if you want to stop off somewhere in between? Does it connect to Princes Bridge and St Kilda Road, Queensbridge St or Clarendon Street?
Bicycle Victoria are have been pushing for it. Spokesperson Garry Brennan said, ‘It gets them off the road. It removes a lot of bottlenecks, it removes a couple of ugly intersections, it’s much faster, much quicker, much more convenient.’
But I don’t want to be off the road! I want a piece of the road! Why is Bicycle Victoria advocating a super-expensive bike superhighway simply to avoid taking space away from cars in a CBD area, which should work towards minimising motor traffic so it can prioritise safe access by bikes and pedestrians at all points? It’s the kind of compromise that will end up losing us the battle.
The Victorian Government should be spending their money on completing a bike network for the whole city. In fact, it already has one – its Principal Bike Network, which has been under review since it was elected. By the way, the old Principal Bike Network showed an off-road path between along Flinders Street all the way from Hoddle Street to Spencer Street.