Drivers are avoiding LaTrobe St since bike lanes went in

Thousands of drivers frustrated by 2013 lane closures in LaTrobe St are walking, riding or catching public transport, according to a new traffic study released in April.

The Melbourne CBD North Edge Traffic Study, commissioned by the City of Melbourne, found that 5500 fewer vehicles were using LaTrobe St (counted at Elizabeth St) on an average weekday. The report, by consultants Movendo, says this represents a 23 per cent drop in traffic in LaTrobe St.

Movendo says some of these drivers have found an alternative route via Franklin St, but daily traffic volumes there have risen by only 1100 (11 per cent) since 2011.

The drivers aren’t using Peel St either.  Daily traffic volumes there between Victoria and Dudley streets have dropped by 3000 vehicles (8 per cent).

And Victoria  St traffic volumes have remained static since 2011, prompting the report’s authors to conclude that people are adopting different modes into the city.

The report points out that since 2013, peak hour bicycle numbers in LaTrobe St have more than doubled in the morning and tripled in the afternoon (measured between Swanston and Elizabeth streets).

It says that some 11,519 bicycles are entering the CBD everyday, a rise of 57 per cent since 2011.  It also points out that public transport usage more widely is up 1.8 per cent.

“Whilst traffic volumes on La Trobe Street have reduced significantly (as a result of the reduction in traffic capacity associated with the installation of bike lanes in 2013) there is little evidence to suggest that this traffic has redistributed to other nearby east-west routes, other than a modest increase in daily traffic volume on Franklin St,” the report says.

The report points out that traffic entering the city more generally (as measured by council at 22 locations) has reduced by 12,000 vehicles per day (5 per cent) since 2012.

“It can be concluded that the travel demand associated with much of the increased activity levels in central Melbourne is not being satisfied by the reduced traffic volumes being recorded and is thus likely being addressed to (sic) a mode shift to more sustainable transport options (such as walking, cycling and public transport). In fact, there is evidence of reduced reliance on private vehicle access to the central area and greater use of public transport and sustainable transport modes,” the report concluded.

The report uses its traffic study findings to recommend support for the City of Melbourne’s ambition to re-align Franklin St through the current Victoria Market car park as part of the market’s redevelopment.

“This report concludes that the adoption of a more direct alignment for Franklin St … will allow the following cross-sectional arrangements to be implemented on Victoria St and Franklin St:

One mid-block traffic lane on each road;

On-road bicycle lane in each direction on each road;

Potential for widened footpaths;

Central median on Franklin Street to replace the current centre-of-road parking; and

Retention of parallel parking on both sides of the road.

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