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Top motoring body urges investment in bike ‘superhighways’

The routes identified include St Kilda Road and Chapel Street in the city’s south east, Sydney Road in the north and Flemington Road–Mount Alexander Road in the north-west.

RACV’s senior planner, Stuart Outhred, said “investing in cycling in these corridors will deliver immense benefits for commuters seeking a safer, cheaper and more active way to get around, and reduce the growth in congestion on roads and public transport.”

“We know from previous research that 28 per cent of Victorians who don’t currently ride are open to cycling more but many people are discouraged because they are intimidated by cars and trucks, lack confidence or don’t think riding is convenient.

“This inspired us to develop a realistic, safe and expedient bicycle network to not just get more Melburnians on their bikes but to encourage the government to fund bicycle infrastructure.”

Though the research does not specify how to make these roads more bike friendly, planning experts say protected bike lanes and restrictions on street parking would be a good start.

Gillian Hatch cycles daily along Canning Street [one of the identified super routes] from her home in Carlton North.

Ms Hatch says Canning Street, which has sections of protected bike lanes, is the “best example” of what government should aspire to when designing busy roads shared between cars and cyclists.

While Canning Street provides a safe route for Ms Hatch, she is more used to “being constantly terrified of being killed by a car door” on roads with heavier traffic.

“Priority cycling routes would make my commute immeasurably better – I’d be able to ride without being in fear, and I’d get around quicker,” she said.

Both Ms Hatch and the RACV say the Andrews government’s $27 million pre-election commitment to make St Kilda Road bike-friendly falls short of the level of investment required to make cycling an attractive commuting alternative for more Victorians.

“It’s clearly a low-priority issue for this government – they’ve made it quite obvious they don’t think cyclists have a voice,” said Ms Hatch, 29.

A spokesperson said the government was already spending big on projects to benefit cyclists.

‘‘Between investing over $100 million on projects, releasing the Victorian Cycling Strategy and putting cycling infrastructure across nearly every major project we’re building, we’re working hard to deliver for riders,’’ the spokesperson said.

‘‘We will continue to evaluate and develop further improvements by working with riders and the wider community on the upgrades they need.’’

According to the RACV, the priority bike paths should be designed for commuter cyclists, rather than those on a recreation bike ride, meaning travel times on the new routes must compete with alternative forms of transport in order for them to widely used.

The research, conducted by CDM Research for the RACV, identifies the following ten routes as most suitable to be turned into cycling superhighways:

1. Chapel Street
2. St Kilda Road
3. Napier Street – St Georges Road
4. Canning Street
5. Flemington Road – Mt Alexander Road
6. Loop (Park Street)
7. Royal Parade – Sydney Road
8. Gardiners Creek – Yarra Bend
9. New Street
10. Cecil Street – Albert Park

Paul is a reporter for The Age.

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