Bike lane project put on hold by City of Melbourne

“[It’s a] waste of money … [because] it’s only used in the morning at peak hour. After 9.30am, it’s useless, no bicycles travel on here,” he said.

“The traffic is banked up way at the back. And then the parking, half of them are gone. Loading zones are not there. Then we have to park in the no-standing zones and get fines out of it.”

When The Age visited Exhibition Street on Friday morning, a truck had stopped in the middle of the separate bike lane to service a construction site, forcing cyclists to merge into traffic. Meanwhile, on Queens Bridge Street, there were no cyclists in sight shortly after 9am.

Lawyer Louisa Borchers started riding to work in the city from Brunswick East after COVID lockdowns.

“It’s not like it’s on every single road in the city,” she said, referring to the existing bike lanes.

“If you have a look at the amount of bike riders that are riding in an hour before and after work, there’s a huge number now following the lockdown, and the bike lane has made it actually safe.

“It feels genuinely pretty safe being on the separated bike lane, which is probably the main reason that I do [cycle].”

Lincoln Walkom, who rides to work from Ascot Vale daily via the protected lanes on Exhibition Street, said he was disappointed to learn of the delay building the extra bike lanes.

“If you’ve got some designated roads for bikes it makes it a lot safer for everyone,” he said.

“How many people in the city are really driving in to the shops anyway? Most people will catch public transport.”

Daniel To has been running Panini Bar on Exhibition Street for 12 years.

“When I talk to the general public they say that they don’t come into the city because it’s hard to find a park,” he said.

“I think it’s really poorly designed.”

He said it was hard for workers to come and do maintenance tasks at his cafe because they struggled to find a park. Delivery drivers also complained about the lack of loading zones.

Mike McNess, secretary of the Transport Workers Union Victoria, said the bike lanes were installed without consulting the transport industry, and the removal of safe loading zones had caused severe disruption for delivery workers.

“The suspension of these lanes is a step in the right direction,” he said.

“We need to double the number of safe loading zones in the city before people get seriously hurt, or even killed. Each building block between each street must have a safe loading zone.”

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Robin Deutschmann, an architect who cycles 10 kilometres into the city from Coburg, said: “Anyone who comes into the city and expects to park their car on the street, that’s a very outdated philosophy and shouldn’t be encouraged.”

He said he regularly found himself in hairy situations while riding in the city.

“Exhibition Street used to be probably one of the most dangerous streets. It’s still not perfect, but this separated bike lane makes a big difference,” he said.

Capp said if the city did pause the rollout it was still on track to meet its targets for its protected bike lane program under its 2030 transport strategy.

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