Melbourne divided over proposal to replace car spaces with cycle lanes on Sydney Road
- Sydney Road is an iconic shopping strip
- Calls for parking spaces to be replaced by cycle paths
- The proposal has divided the Melbourne community
A bold proposal to replace car spaces with bike lanes along one of Melbourne’s busiest streets and most popular shopping areas has divided the city.
Sydney Road is a bustling thoroughfare frequented by thousands of motorists and tram commuters every day.
However, with the Brunswick level crossing removal project initiated by the Victorian government of Daniel Andrews, the railway tracks that currently run parallel to Sydney Road will be moved to the surface.
The construction work will lead to a temporary closure of the adjacent train tracks and cycle paths.
Now cyclists are leading calls for car spaces to be removed along Sydney Road and replaced with cycle lanes to improve safety, while the cycle lane is closed.
Cyclists weave between parked and parked cars when using Melbourne’s iconic Sydney Road
While some residents have welcomed the proposal, business owners fear the loss of car spaces will put livelihoods at stake after a difficult few years during Covid, which included 262 days of lockdown.
The function center owner, Tony Cogur, fears that the parking limitations will significantly affect businesses.
“It used to be a lot of fuss because you could walk around and there was something to see everywhere, but now there are so many shops for rent,” he recently told the abc.
“Without car parking, if that happened, people wouldn’t be able to come here and businesses would continue to close.”
What Sydney Road in Brunswick would look like if the proposal goes ahead
There were at least 58 crashes involving cyclists on Sydney Road between Bell Street and Brunswick Road in the five years to last December.
Paula Hanasz and her young family are among the many Brunswick residents who bike everywhere.
“I don’t feel safe having to go on roads that don’t have a separate bike lane,” she said.
“I think the cost of inaction on this is lives,”
Another woman added: “I’ve had several near misses.”
The community is just as divided online.
Brunswick is home to the longest continuous commercial strip in the southern hemisphere
‘Don’t ruin my community by removing parking lots for more bike lanes,’ posted one resident.
Another added: “Cyclists have other options for getting to work, though it’s none other than Sydney Road.”
‘Let cyclists pay for road construction then.’
Others pointed out that the removal of car spaces for bike spaces has benefited many places around the world.
Numerous studies and real life (see Paris, Amsterdam, Utrecht, and even several cases related to the LX phase-out program) show that retail activity improved when parking lots were removed and pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure improved. Most of the cars on Sydney Road don’t stop there to shop,” posted a resident.
Another added: ‘There are 2,200 off-street parking spaces accessed from side streets. Install protected bike lanes, expand trails, add some canopy trees to mitigate extreme summer temperatures and filter the air. Make it more people friendly. It’s time.