BikeWest have studied the suggestions West Footscray Village regarding bicycle infrastructure provision and lane marking alterations as proposed by Maribyrnong College. While BikeWest endorses some of the concepts, overall we do not support one particular proposal and propose an alternative.
BikeWest believes the West Footscray Village should not be considered in isolation but rather as part of a broader integrated network in the entire local government area. The key element to this is the strategic importance of Barkly St as a bicycle route. Barkly St is THE KEY east west route through the Footscray area and inner west. Given its strategic importance, this affects what proposals are suitable for the West Footscray Village.
The importance of Barkly St as Priority Infrastructure in shown by analysis commissioned by the RACV. While the Barkly St route was ranked as 14 th in the analysis, BikeWest has studied the methodology and found with small changes in catchment and length of the route analysed, Barkly St would rank in the top 5 bicycle infrastructure projects in Melbourne. Given infrastructure Australia have given priority status to the top 10 ranked bicycle projects as ranked by RACV, a small change in the ranking methodology would have led to Barkly St being endorsed by Infrastructure Australia. The success of bicycle infrastructure is partially attributable to a consistent approach which increases recognition and predictability for all road users. BikeWest recommends a consistent application of a protected bidirectional bike lane consistent with the recently installed bike lanes over the Hopetoun Bridge which abruptly stop at Joseph Rd. This form of infrastructure benefits from the reduced amount of road space required due to overtaking space being available in the opposite direction bike lane which not possible with unidirectional lanes. This enables protected bike infrastructure to be installed on streets that could no accommodate unidirectional lanes and still conform to VicRoads standards. It also minimises loss of parking and hence acceptance from some members of the community. VicRoads standards also allow for narrower lanes when required as shown on the Beaconsfield Parade bidirectional lane which narrows to 1.8m with 0.6m buffer near Kerford Rd in Middle Park.
BikeWest proposes that a continuous protected bidirectional lane should be installed from Hopkins St along the northern side. This would connect with the existing protected bidirectional lane on Dynon Rd and go through to Elphinstone St West Footscray. From this point west on Barkly St, parking should be removed and the existing bike lanes properly delineated with armadillos or wave delineators as opposed to not fit for purpose plastic bollards. The bidirectional lane should connect with the laneway opposite Elphinstone St with a formalised crossing on Barkly St that then joins the Rupert St bike path. The laneway should be resurfaced, painted green and have high levels of lighting to increase passive safety. The bidirectional bike lane can be achieved through the reallocation of existing space provided for bicycle lanes and would require only 10 car parks to be removed in Footscray (between Leeds St and Droop St) and 46 car parks in the West Footscray Village. This would leave approximately 90% of existing car parks in the West Footscray area (100m catchment). BikeWest does not support the closure of Barkly St to through traffic as studies of over 200 road closures throughout the world show these are only successful in very specific circumstances such as very high existing pedestrian traffic and very little through traffic (eg Pop Up Park Yarraville). These criteria are not met in Barkly St West Footscray.
BikeWest does support the Clarke St pop up park and also recommends that Clarke St be a main connecting route to the south of Barkly St as opposed to Warleigh Rd. Clarke St benefits from very little through traffic and its narrow width which allows a conversion to a VicRoads Bicycle St. An existing pedestrian crossing on Barkly St at Clarke St would enable cyclists to safely access the bidirectional bike path on the northern side of Barkly St. A high quality crossing would need to be installed at the intersection of Clarke St and Cross St. Warleigh Rd is not suitable due to its high traffic volumes and the unique nature of the tree locations and kerb standouts which precludes any protected bicycle infrastructure. The connection to the north should be along Blandford St either as a bicycle street with 30kmh limit or bidirectional bike lane. This would allow safe access to Footscray West Primary School, Martin Reserve and through Withers Lane to Shorten Reserve and Barrett Reserve, key recreational precincts where active transport should be encouraged.
Other links associated with Barkly St Footscray include the Paisley St Bypass which BikeWest does not support. The Paisley St Bypass has numerous intractable shortcomings so funding and emphasis should be diverted towards Barkly St through Footscray.
Together with Nicholson St as the key north south link through Footscray, the key east west link of Barkly St would provide the key bicycle infrastructure network spine for access to the city to the east, VU Footscray Park campus and the new hospital to the north, VU Nicholson campus, Footscray High School Pilgrim and Footscray City Primary School to the south, Footscray High School Barkly, the West Footscray village and Sunshine to the west.
1) BikeWest submission in full: http://bikewest.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/West-Footscray-Village-Plans-20200427.pdf