Demand 3: reduce the default speed limit to 30 km/h in Melbourne’s residential streets, shopping strips and the CBD

If you’ve ever tried to ride down Exhibition Street when there’s no traffic jam, you’ll know how unsafe and unpleasant it can feel having fast cars zooming past you. The speed limit there is 50 km/h. We reckon this completely unsuitable for a CBD area. The city should be orientated to people, not cars.

Victoria’s current default speed limit (ie where there are no signs) is 50 km/h in built-up areas and 40 km/h in some shopping strip zones. Local councils can reduce speed limits to 40 km/h in particular locations, such as residential areas, but only with Vicroads’ approval. 30 km/h, considered by VicRoads to be ‘quite unusual‘, is more difficult to get approval for.

Melbourne BUG is asking the state government to reduce the default speed limit to 30 km/h for Melbourne’s residential streets, shopping strips, and the CBD. This is because 30km/h is an evidence-based speed limit that makes pedestrians and cyclists safer. Chances of survival decrease rapidly between 30 and 40 km/h. According to the World Health Organisation, pedestrians have 90% chance of surviving car crashes at 30 km/h or below, but less than a 50% chance of surviving impacts at 45 km/h or above. It is likely that similar differences exist for cyclists.

Lower speed limits should be combined with traffic calming measures that make it physically difficult to speed, regardless of legal sanctions or ineffective signs. Both are needed: without traffic calming, drivers tend to ignore speed limits, and without speed limits, there are no legal sanctions and speed limits cannot be enforced.

Reducing speeds to 30 km/h will make Melbourne a safer place for pedestrians and a cyclists, and a nicer place to walk and hang out in. Where speed limits are higher than 30km/h, governments should provide safe bike lanes.

What do you think? Where in Melbourne would you like to see lower speed limits?


Our second demand: lead coordination of a network of safe bike routes across all Melbourne’s local council areas

Sick of bike routes that don’t connect up? Inconsistent treatments for bike lanes and intersections? Bike lanes that disappear unexpectedly leaving you stranded and vulnerable? A lack of maps and signs?

This is the Nicholson/Victoria St intersection.

Canning Street, Napier Street, and Albert Street are well frequented and relatively safe bike routes. But when cyclists get to this intersection they are left stranded. Cyclists travelling along the Albert Street lane are similarly abandoned when it ends prematurely. Similarly, the ‘bike lane’ on Spring Street disappears at several points.

We’re asking the state government work with local governments to lead the coordination of a network of safe bike routes that connect up, with no gaps.

If you have any other examples of routes that don’t connect up, please tweet them to us @bikemelbourne.

Our first demand: build more safe lanes and get more people riding

Let us introduce you to Sally.

Sally lives in Elsternwick and works in the city. Sometimes she catches the train to work, sometimes she drives to escape the overcrowding. She doesn’t particularly enjoy her trip to work, and it’s expensive, too, setting her back $1500 a year. When asked why she doesn’t cycle there, she says she likes cycling for recreation, but doesn’t feel safe on the roads. She looks out the window on the way to work and sees cyclists riding alongside parked cars with doors opening in front of them, and fast cars cutting across bike lanes.

Ten years later, government’s with the vision to realise cycling’s potential – to reduce congestion, cut pollution, and make people happier and healthier – have built a city-wide network of safe bike lanes. Sally’s pretty happy with the changes. She can now ride the whole way to work in bike lanes that are physically separated from transport, including a great bike lane along St Kilda Road. Even where’s there’s no separation, speed limits are so low that she feels safe, and with more riders on the road now, drivers are more careful.

As a woman, Sally’s in one of cycling’s underrepresented population groups, along with children, adolescents, older adults, and migrants. Sally’s also in the ‘interested but concerned’ category, one of four cyclist types identified in a City of Portland study as being most potential cyclists (60% of all people).   ‘Interested but concerned’ people want to ride more, but don’t feel safe near fast moving traffic, even with bike lanes. They would ride if there were fewer and slower cars, or safe, stressless bike lanes without cars in them.

Everyone knows someone like Sally: they are our friends and family, and we want them to come with us on our rides. That’s why the Get Pushy campaign is asking for safe bike lanes and lower speed limits: not just to protect existing cyclists, but to get more people riding, with more cyclists on the roads meaning more fun and safety for us all.

In a real cycling city, you don’t have to be brave to ride a bike.

Riding from Melbourne’s south? Get pushy!

Can't see a safe way into the city? Join us and 'get pushy'!

We’ve heard again and again from non-cycling friends who live south of the yarra.  They want to ride to work too.  But they can’t see a safe way into the city.  It’s time to get pushy – Melbourne needs a network of safe bike lanes across the city, and in all directions!


Join us on “leap day” to get pushy for cycle safety

Bike safety feel like an uphill battle? Get pushy!

Where when?

Date: Wednesday 29 February 2012

Time: 12:45pm for a 1pm start

Place:  Gordon Reserve – the small grass triangle on Spring Street just south of Parliament House, near the corner of Little Collins Street.

What is this all about?

We are everyday cyclists. We care about cycle safety. And we think it’s time to get a bit pushy. What we don’t want: roads only for cars. Roads so unforgiving that small errors have catastrophic consequences. What we do want: safe bike lanes. More of them. And respect.

Greens MP Greg Barber has introduced a bill to increase the penalty for dooring to the same as running a red light. This is a good first step to raise awareness. But we want more.

Ride your bike to Gordon Reserve to support the Dooring Bill and call for:
1. More safe bike lanes
2. A culture of respect on the roads