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State Gov must act on accessible tram stops, protected bike lanes and lower speeds to save lives

01 May 2024

Merri-bek City Council today welcomed the final report from the Victorian parliamentary inquiry into the impact of road safety behaviours on vulnerable road users, urging the State Government to act on and fund its recommendations to build accessible tram stops and protected bike lanes and make it easier to lower speeds to save lives.  

The report, tabled in parliament today, focussed on the behaviour of road users during and after the COVID-19 pandemic and the effect on the safety of vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.  

Merri-bek Mayor Councillor Adam Pulford said Merri-bek Council has long been calling for accessible tram stops and protected bike lanes to be built on Sydney Road to make Sydney Road safer. 

“Sydney Road needs accessible tram stops so people using mobility aids and prams can use trams to get where they need to go, and protected bike lanes for people riding. These improvements would transform Sydney Road, making it safer and a better place for people to visit, and it would solve the two major challenges when the Upfield Rail Line and the Upfield Shared User Path close for the construction for the Brunswick level crossing removals,” Cr Pulford said.  

“The report found that accessible tram stops can also act as traffic calming measures and reduce the risk of pedestrians being struck by a motor vehicle when getting on or off a tram.”  

The report recommended that the State Government should continue to promote the installation of protected bike lanes in inner and middle Melbourne, prioritise the development of the Strategic Cycling Corridor network and work with councils to better link and connect cycling infrastructure projects. 

“The inquiry’s findings backed up what Merri-bek Council has long known, that protected bike lanes not only keep people riding bikes safer, but also encourage more people to get out of cars and onto bikes, and legitimise bike riders in the minds of other road users,” Cr Pulford said.  

“The inquiry also found, and we know, that more people using active transport to get around reduces congestion on the roads and transport emissions and improves people’s mental and physical health, the local economy and neighbourhood liveability. 

“The State Government needs to move on these recommendations now and set up recurring funding to make our streets safer for everyone.”  

In Merri-bek alone, there were five fatalities of vulnerable road users in 2022 and 123 recorded fatal and serious injury crashes involving vulnerable road users between 2020 and 2022. Almost a quarter (30) of these crashes occurred on Sydney Road.  

Council also welcomed the committee’s recommendation that the Department of Transport and Planning revise its Speed Zoning Policy to streamline changes to speed limits on a case-by-case basis. In its submission to the inquiry, Council called for the State Government to partner with Council on a trial of 30km/h speed limits.  

“We are currently rolling out a speed reduction to 40km/h on all local roads in Merri-bek, because we know that lower speeds reduces the risk of serious injury or death to vulnerable road users when crashes happen,” Cr Pulford said.  

“But State Government allowing councils to reduce speeds to 30km/h in some areas would reduce further these risks.”