Some years ago I wrote about issues with the City of Melbourne policy of allowing motorbikes and scooters to park on footpaths, except in a few locations where it’s specifically banned.
The problem is, most of the guidelines seem to be ignored.
DO dismount and walk your motorcycle while you are on the footpath
DO ensure your motorcycle is at least one motorcycle length out from the building line to allow free passage of pedestrians (this is important as people with a visual and/or physical impairment may use the building line for navigation)
DO park at least one motorcycle wheel diameter back from the road kerb, to allow pedestrians free access to and from the road and to parked vehicles (You can leave less space between your motorcycle and the kerb if you park next to a “no stopping” zone).
DO NOT PARK opposite any parking bay reserved for people with disabilities (marked with a wheelchair sign and symbol)
DO NOT PARK where space is reserved for footpath activities such as street cafés
– it’s a bit hard to tell, as most such areas seem not to be well-defined.
DO NOT PARK on narrow footpaths
– this is far too vague, but based on the second and third points, one could conclude that it means don’t park on footpaths so narrow you can’t leave a motorcycle wheel diameter from the kerb, and a motorcycle length from the building line. This should automatically make any footpath narrower than a motorcycle length (plus a wheel length) out of bounds.
DO NOT PARK on or near service access points, such as manhole covers, post boxes or rubbish bins
DO NOT PARK near taxi ranks or bus and tram stops
DO NOT PARK on private property without permission from the property owner
– some areas can be identified as private property, but it’s not possible to tell if permission has been given.
DO NOT PARK where your vehicle could damage the footpath, pedestrian facilities or landscaping
– I didn’t find any evidence of this.
DO NOT PARK within 1 metre of fire hydrants
There are just three locations where motorcycle parking is specifically banned:
- Collins Street, south side footpath, between Exhibition Street and George Parade — I’m not even sure why this spot was excluded; the footpaths are wide, and it’s not particularly busy
- Flinders Lane, south side footpath, between Port Phillip Arcade and Elizabeth Street
- Exhibition Street, west side footpath, adjacent to Her Majesty’s Theatre.
Everywhere else, it’s permitted:
In Victoria you can legally park your motorcycle/scooter on the footpath (unless otherwise signed), as long as you do not obstruct pedestrians, doorways, delivery vehicles, public transport users or access to parked cars.
Of course, common sense would suggest a few others points, such as…
Don’t block ramps to pedestrian crossings, particularly tactile guidance paths for the blind
…or block the footpath opposite a tram stop exit
…or park in pedestrian malls
…or in the middle of a civic amenity such as public rotunda
Why does this stuff even matter?
Firstly, I have a philosophical disagreement with the idea of motor vehicles being parked (and driven) on footpaths.
Many CBD footpaths are already congested. As the CBD continues to get busier, it’s going to get worse. In the past ten years, total daily city numbers have grown from 679,000 to about 830,000 — about 22%.
While the number of CBD visitors using motorbikes remains proportionately low (less than 1% — a comment on the previous post said about 1200 per day), obviously as the CBD gets busier, the numbers are likely to increase.
Efficient movement of people around the city means encouraging the most efficient mode: that means pedestrians. But their space is being encroached upon by a relatively small number of other users.
Note that cyclists in general don’t cause these problems because they need to be left chained to something, such as a pole, restricting where they end up parked. Pushbikes are also physically smaller.
There are several problems here, I think:
Firstly, the rules as they stand don’t seem to be enforced, and are widely ignored, or perhaps not even common knowledge among motorbike and scooter riders.
Are they even enforceable rules? Or are they just guidelines? I’m guessing the latter.
Either way, whatever the rules are, riders need to be made aware of them, educated, and then the rules enforced — even if it’s just issuing notices advising of what not to do.
Secondly, the free-for-all just doesn’t make sense in a busy city centre. With pedestrian numbers continuing to increase, and motorbike riders accounting for less than 1% of the total daily CBD population, this is simply not efficient use of footpath space to have them sitting there all day. It probably explains why other capital city CBDs don’t allow it.
In comparison, many local councils have cracked down on footpath trading in recent years because of concerns about pedestrian flows and the vision impaired, and have provided clear rules about where traders can place displays, signs, tables, and so on. There doesn’t seem to have been any such clarity around motorbikes, and formalising the current guidelines and enforcing them would help a lot.
Where motorbike parking makes sense
I’d much prefer the policy was changed to allow motorbikes on the footpaths only in defined areas — opt-in rather than opt-out.
There are “motorcycle precincts” such as parts of Elizabeth Street where their presence is to be expected, and there are spots where it works fine, for instance opposite some tram superstops where there are wide footpaths with plenty of spare capacity, and barriers mean nobody needs to park cars or cross the road at that point.
The other thing that should happen is the replacement of more on-street car parking with motorbike parking. It makes sense because motorbike/scooter parking on the street is more efficient use of space than car parking. Plus there’s lots of off-street car-parking, and in any case car traffic needs to be discouraged.
(I’m less sure that motorcycles/scooters are more efficient in traffic… it might be that they take up about as much space as cars when moving. Motorbikes are also, in the main, much noisier.)
If there isn’t a switch to an opt-in one, then there should at least be a blanket ban on parking on narrow footpaths (going by the points in the existing guidelines) and bans placed on areas of high pedestrian traffic, such as around the railway stations.
Ultimately though, the City of Melbourne should be prioritising pedestrians on footpaths. They account for the majority of footpath users, with numbers increasing every year, and are the most efficient use of available the space.
When I’ve raised the prospect of a change on Twitter, people cite a motorbike protest some years ago which was probably how the current policy came about. Motorcyclists parked (quite legally) one motorbike per car spot in protest, and the council surrendered. They imply this could happen again.
You know what? The threat of protest doesn’t make it a good policy.
And I think you could predict my attitude to this specific protest — a protest inconveniencing CBD motorists (another minority mode)? Let them. I don’t care one bit.
One more thing
It’s very much in the eye of the beholder, but what about the heritage and character of our streets?
Beyond problems of efficiency, of footpath capacity… do we actually want every street in Melbourne to be overrun with parked motorcycles and scooters?
- Looks like in the inner-north, cargo bikes are starting to cause similar problems blocking footpaths
Last night I spotted a violation of parking where specifically signed that you shouldn’t. Picture inserted above.
And City of Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle has advised me that, as I suspected, they are unenforceable guidelines, not rules.
@danielbowen: Guidelines not really enforceable and not CoM's. Our Parking Officers do issue fines for obstruction.
— Robert Doyle (@LordMayorMelb) October 18, 2013
Perhaps a day at the races with the right skills and knowledge could be quite profitable, but for me (first time in over a decade), it certainly wasn’t a money maker — it was about the company.
Quite a glorious day, relaxing, standing in the sunshine, chatting to the blokes I was with, pondering horses and bets, and watching the races as they happened.
For the record:
$45 entry. (You can book online for $40… plus a booking fee of, from memory, another dollar, which hardly makes it worth it)
Drinks $7.50 for a can of beer, $4.80 for a bottle of soft drink = $19.80. Was interesting to see stricter limits of 2 cans of alcohol per purchase after 4pm. I can’t say I saw any alcohol-related problems.
Starlight Foundation charity badge (pictured below) $5
I didn’t splurge on bets, but did put $5 each on Oasis Bloom (which came second) and Speediness (which came fourth) based on tips from friend of a friend, as well as liking the names — perhaps not the best strategy ever, but the best one I have.
Caulfield Guineas day isn’t the busiest day of course. They had said at one stage they reckoned a crowd of about 25,000. Seemed well-behaved from where I was standing.
For the men there was a mix of casual dress and suits — probably more of the latter in the public areas, even more so in the more exclusive sections no doubt. Most of the ladies seemed to be in frocks. A few people were in fancy dress — I saw one Star Trek captain (a Trek tunic, plus a sailor captain’s cap), and several people in animal suits, though they’d all taken off the heads as it was pretty warm.
And the winner of the feature race? Long John.
There seemed to be plenty of staff and extra trains at Caulfield station afterwards, so getting home again wasn’t an issue. I wonder how they’ll cope on the really busy days.
This is one of those blog posts which is about something really quite mundane but which might possibly be quite interesting in a decade or three. Maybe.
You’ve seen lots of these around. This is a fire hydrant. Or at least, it’s the cover of a hydrant. The bits that actually work are underneath it, and are quite low to the ground.
This is also a fire hydrant. I’m assuming it’s an older one, as everything is visible — it doesn’t have a cover. This might be what people think of in their minds when they think of what a fire hydrant looks like.
And have you noticed these? I remember being told about them as a kid, I think on an excursion to the (now defunct) Elwood fire station. A blue rectangle on a power pole means there’s a fire hydrant up ahead. A square means it’s back behind you. I’m guessing these make it easier for the fire brigade to find a hydrant (especially at night) when they need it.
Update 6/10/2013: Some mention in the comments of blue reflectors (“cats eyes”) on the road to additionally help locate hydrants. For completeness, here’s a photo of one.
Spotted any other good ones recently, or specific churches that go for witty slogans on their signs?
I hadn’t noticed these before — these poles at the western end of the Bourke Street Mall commemorate the 1956 Olympics and 2006 Commonwealth Games.
It was present over much of the metropolitan area, but here are some pictures of the fog around the city on Monday.
(Contrast this last one to a similar pic from autumn last year)
Motorists in pedestrian areas – is there something about No Entry they don’t understand? #RoadMorons
Some of those of us who hang around the city are truly amazed at the number of motorists who ignore the “No Entry” and turn ban signs and drive along streets they’re not meant to.
So it’s nice to know that — just occasionally — they do get pulled over by the police.
Unfortunately others seem to get away with it scot free — and it’s unclear to me why police seem to be less keen to catch people driving through pedestrianised areas than they are to book jaywalkers.
This bloke not only ignored the No Entry signs when turning into the street, he went past multiple signs telling him to do a U-turn before this intersection, then when rightly faced with more No Entry signs, initially looked confused, then took the most-pedestrianised street (the one that even bans bicycles), the Bourke Street Mall.
The Frankston line is to get upgrades worth $100 million — signalling changes to allow X’Trapolis trains to run, more shelter at stations, better CCTV, and better passenger information, including about connecting buses and trams.
The Premier, Public Transport Minister, local (Coalition) MPs, heads of PTV and Metro and even the Mayor of Glen Eira were at Bentleigh station this morning for an announcement.
I heard it was happening, so decided to ambush the press conference and listen in. (Just like old times.)
The press release details what’s included:
“Frankston line passengers will also benefit from improvements to station lighting, the installation of extra CCTV cameras, the extension of station platform canopies to provide more weather protection, additional myki readers and disability access improvements.
“Frankston line stations will also have new passenger information screens installed which display real time updates for trains, trams and buses, providing improved information for commuters as they arrive at stations.
“The Coalition Government’s doubling in train frequencies to every 10 minutes during the day on weekends on the Dandenong, Frankston and Ringwood lines has been successful, and now it is time to roll out further improvements,” Mr Mulder said.
This all sounds pretty good.
In fact, it sounds like precisely the sort of upgrade which should be carried out on lines across the network.
Along with the ten minute trains now seen on the line every day, a good amount of shelter, good lighting and CCTV and real time connection information is not unreasonable to expect on all our rail lines.
I had a quick chat to Andrew Lezala from Metro — it seems the acceleration of the X’trapolis and Siemens trains are similar, so they’d like to predominantly run those on the Frankston line, and tweak the timetable to match.
Presumably this means Comeng trains will go elsewhere — and it would also mean the Williamstown and Werribee lines will also get X’trapolises, since most Frankston trains through-route to there.
What wasn’t announced?
More services — we’ve already seen ten minute services every day on the line during off-peak (though few people know about them) — better than any other line in Melbourne, so I think it’s fair enough to let that be for now. But peak could do with a boost to cope with crowding and a clean-up of peak shoulder would help too.
Grade separation — North Road grade separation is coming along (though is not quite “delivered” yet, as a flyer from the local member recently claimed), but no others on this line are proposed at present. The Premier and Minister had caught the train to Bentleigh, and when I had a chat with him, the Premier noted the extremely slow speed over the Glenhuntly train/tram crossing. I think he may have made noises about improving it, but I’m assuming this does not amount to a promise to grade separate!
Southland station — One of the journos asked about Southland. Terry Mulder said that because it involves building on land owned by the shopping centre, they are in negotiations over that. He seemed to also say that it would happen soon, without giving a firm time line, but it did say it would definitely happen.
Station staff — Nup. They’re still pushing the PSOs policy, even though much crime happens before 6pm, and many stations see little or nothing happen.
Connections — The upgrade will include real time information about connections, but of course one of the things lacking is the frequency of those connecting services. Passengers in Glenhuntly are lucky enough to have trams every 10-15 minutes every day, but those relying on buses see mostly hourly weekend services, and some (such as the Bentleigh to Brighton end of the 703) don’t run on Sundays.
The gunzel version
X’Traps to replace Comengs on the Franga line! Get photos!!
When will things start to happen
It’s hard not to see that this package of upgrade works is aimed squarely at the row of marginal seats along the Frankston line. As such I’d be surprised if some of the more visible changes don’t start to happen in the next 12 months, well in time for the election in November 2014.
With trains every ten minutes, better realtime information and station shelters, enhanced CCTV, more reliable services… sounds like just the sort of thing that should be rolled-out across the rail network.
But $100 million is also a lot of money. For instance, yesterday it was announced that a new high school in the Mernda/Doreen area would be built… costing $11.5 million. Some are pointing out that $100 million would pay for duplication on some of the single-line sections of other lines, which would make a huge difference to reliability.