…this person, who ignored the convention to keep left of the white line in Flinders Lane, and came up against this tram coming around the corner.
The tram actually had a fair pace making the turn — luckily it stopped in time to prevent a collision.
The motorist backed out of the lane, and hopefully learnt a lesson.
Heading south along William Street in morning peak hour, fighting for space on the street, are pedestrians (predominantly coming out of Flagstaff station), trams, cyclists and motorists.
How many of each?
Tram route 55 gets a tram about every 4 minutes in peak hour. The May 2012 PTV load survey said that each tram carries an average of 78.6 people between 8am and 9am southbound (actually measured slightly north from this point), making about 1179 people per hour.
Motorists: Vicroads network performance monitoring figures may or may not be of relevance to this specific street, but show that the arterial road average across Melbourne in AM peak is a bit under 800 people per hour. William Street southbound is only one lane, so let’s use that figure.
Cyclists? Dunno. I see quite a few heading up and down in peak, but the Bicycle Network “Super Tuesday” count doesn’t seem to publicly publish anything useful from the enormous amount of data they collect. Shame. In the absence of other figures, let me take a wild guess at 200 in the busiest hour.
The bike lanes aren’t properly configured. They fizzle-out in places, and around Little Bourke Street (southbound), cyclists often either have to squeeze between cars, or wait for them to shift.
If you assume the footpaths are roughly the same width as each tram/traffic/parking lane, and the bike lanes are half that width, what do you get?
|Mode||% people||% road space|
The most over-allocated, least efficient mode here is obviously motor vehicles — in part because they are allocated two lanes but one (at least in AM peak) is wasted on parking.
Meanwhile the footpaths get so crowded that many people simply walk on the road. In this terribly fuzzy mobile phone footage, you can see a bloke in a wheelchair give up on the footpath and take-off across the road for the other side:
(Note: it is perfectly legal to cross the road anywhere that is more than 20 metres from a pedestrian crossing.)
What could they do?
They could widen the footpath at the expense of car parking, particularly on the super-busy western side of the street. In the busiest section between Bourke Street and Flagstaff station that’s probably losing about 20 car spots. You’d lose a traffic lane in PM peak, but so what? Traffic is at a standstill now — it would still be at a standstill. If delays got longer, fewer people would drive.
They could install full time bike lanes all the way down. It’s crazy that cyclists get stuck behind cars.
Better enforcement of motorists blocking intersections; you see this every peak hour. (Could be a money-spinner for a cash-strapped government, in fact.)
And more fare gates at Flagstaff could ease congestion there, particularly in morning peak.
Ultimately, the station and trains are the most efficient mode available for getting large numbers of people into and out of the CBD. It already does this very well, but making the area more efficient and safer for pedestrians is vital.
Update: The video keeps disappearing out of this post — possible WordPress bug? The direct link is here.
Update 12:30pm: Someone anonymously sent me a link to what looks like it should be a Bicycle Network page with detailed stats, but it doesn’t work. The region or state specified is invalid
It’s interesting to see that around the CBD, a subtle line is often marked on the pavement, where (I’m assuming) the publicly-owned pavement ends and the privately-owned property begins.
Quite a few buildings include this kind of open space, particularly at the front, and I would assume the boundary would have legal significance.
In some cases it’s less subtle, where they’ve made no effort to match the paving styles on the private land to the public footpath.
An infamous boundary among Melbourne’s news media is Southern Cross Station. Security guards will descend if the media set up their cameras on the wrong side of the line without authorisation — even when the story has nothing to do with the station itself. That’s why in news reports you’ll often see them looking into the station, having filmed from the footpath outside. Why go there? Well for some (for instance channels 7 and 9) it’s close to where they have their offices — and unlike other CBD railway stations, you can just about see platforms and trains from the street.
I thought it was not bad for a handheld point-and-shoot camera.
Can you combine street art, classic video games and a Melbourne street map?
CDH Art: “Using the familiar street art motif of retro gaming, I created a walking guide-map to Melbourne’s street art.”
I reckon the better a paving surface looks, the slipperier it is, particularly in the wet.
Asphalt: ugly, but grips well, even in the wet.
Tiles (as platforms at Flinders Street station have been converted to, but thankfully not ramps) and blue-stone (increasingly common on CBD streets) look nicer, but are more slippery.
And some types of tactiles (bumps, for the vision-impaired) often aren’t that great in terms of grip either.
Agree? Disagree? Is it my shoes?
Last week the first of the new Swanston Street tram superstops opened. On Monday I went down at lunchtime to have a look, and came across Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, City of Melbourne planner Rob Adams, and Yarra Trams’ Michel Masson all down there having a look, and talking to the media about it.
It’s good to see this space finally being rid of cars, and the priority given to the main users of Swanston Street — pedestrians, tram passengers, and cyclists. And of course it’s great to get some more accessible tram stops in the CBD — the first for Swanston Street that are actually within the Hoddle Grid.
During the first couple of weeks, they’ve got people dressed as lifeguards and umpires etc using some humour to direct people to the right spots.
This is important because the space needs to deal with tram passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists. Thankfully motorists are (theoretically) out of the equation, though at one stage I observed a motorcyclist unwittingly ride in.
The real problems here are that (a) they’re a unique design — in fact one keen observer reckons they’re unique in the world –and (b) they’re not intuitive.
For pedestrians, it’s simply not obvious that the space where you board the trams is not where you should walk along. For cyclists it’s a little clearer where they should be, and from what I saw, they seemed to realise they needed to stop and give way to passengers getting on and off trams.
I haven’t been there at the relevant times, but I’m particularly curious to see what happens when large numbers of tram users getting on and off (such as during the University peaks) intersect with large numbers of cyclists.
Even after adding small “bicycle” markings onto the bike lane, pedestrians and passengers seem confused. Maybe they’ll learn, but it will take some getting used to — something acknowledged by Masson and Doyle (and Adams I assume). I’d expect some further tweaking, but I doubt there’ll be any major re-design any time soon.
Like anything else, it requires the critical mass of people to know how to use them, and then (most) visitors will hopefully just follow everybody else. Whether this will happen, only time will tell.
And in the mean time, work will begin on the next two stops, further south.
There’s vandalism, and then there’s street art.
Some have trouble distinguishing them, but for me, it’s not hard to see that these hidden gems in Finlay Lane (off Little Lonsdale Street, near Queen Street) are clearly the latter.
Well worth a look, if you’re passing (and you can find it!)