Could cycling ‘superhighways’ be coming to Melbourne?

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Melbourne could be one step closer to having a network of cycling ‘superhighways’ linking its suburbs to the CBD. Australia’s independent infrastructure advisory body, Infrastructure Australia (IA), this week added the initiative to its annual priority list after Victoria’s peak motoring organisation, RACV, first proposed the construction of cycling superhighways last year.

RACV’s submission to IA’s priority list identified 17 key cycling corridors around Melbourne that would benefit from infrastructure upgrades, to promote safer and more comfortable cycling. Among the corridors most in need of upgrading, according to RACV, are Chapel Street and St. Kilda Road in the inner south, and Napier Street/St. Georges Road and Canning Street in the inner north.

“These priority corridors deserve more than just paint – we want to see high-quality, separate infrastructure that makes everyone feel safe and comfortable when riding,” said RACV’s senior planner of mobility futures, Stuart Outhred. “Investing in these corridors will deliver immense benefits for commuters wanting safer, cheaper and healthier ways of getting around, as well as the added benefits of reducing congestion on roads and pressure on public transport.”

The RACV proposal was one of just two Victorian projects added to IA’s Infrastructure Priority List — a document designed to help state and federal governments direct their infrastructure spending for the years ahead.

The IA list explains that building cycling superhighways in Melbourne would have multiple benefits.

“There is substantial latent demand for cycling, with people choosing not to cycle because of safety concerns due to routes that are not connected and/or have poor separation from traffic,” the document reads. “Provision of dedicated cycling infrastructure for key cycling corridors in Inner Melbourne would encourage more people to cycle, helping to alleviate road network and public transport congestion and reduce the risk of conflict between road users.

“Recent research has revealed that most Victorians own and ride bicycles, but they don’t cycle for transport, or into the Melbourne CBD for employment, because the bicycle network is not currently meeting community needs and expectations of a safer, lower-stress and better-connected network.”

IA suggests the infrastructure upgrades should happen within the next five years.

The key cycling routes in need of upgrade, according to RACV.

Being added to the IA Priority List doesn’t guarantee the project will go ahead, but it does give the proposal more weight.

“We’re thrilled the nation’s independent infrastructure adviser, IA, endorsed RACV’s cycling superhighway network in its Infrastructure Priority List for 2020,” Stuart said. “We are now calling on all levels of government to work together to heed the call from IA and build cycling infrastructure that will get Melbourne moving again.”

RACV’s top 10 priority routes

1. Chapel Street
2. St Kilda Road
3. Napier Street / St. Georges Road
4. Canning Street, Carlton
5. Flemington / Mount Alexander Roads
6. A city loop including Park Street in the inner north
7. Royal Parade / Sydney Road
8. Gardiners Creek
9. New Street, Brighton
10. St Kilda via Cecil Street

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