By David Schout
The City of Melbourne has proposed sweeping changes to road and parking rules in the CBD to create more space for pedestrians and cyclists.
The council is considering reducing the speed limit from 40 to 30kmh, reducing main streets to one lane and cutting on-street parking.
The proposal formed part of the latest transport discussion papers released in June, which will form its transport strategy to 2050.
Seven of the eight papers have now been revealed, with the three released in the last month focusing on motor vehicles, parking and cycling.
Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the paper raised “provoking questions”, and the council wanted to especially target the space taken up from on-street parking.
“The balance of how people are moving around our city has changed significantly,” she said.
“We are seeing more pedestrians and more people using public transport, who then use our streets to walk to their destination. We are asking ‘how do we redress that balance?’ We will always welcome people into the city by car.”
Shortly after the papers were released, both Premier Daniel Andrews and Opposition Leader Matthew Guy shot down the idea.
Mr Andrews said his government preferred to focus on improving public transport, while Mr Guy said “I don’t think it’s a radical plan, it’s a ridiculous plan”.
Cr Capp responded to their comments: “I think it’s great that the Premier and the Opposition Leader have both got involved with the debate today and we really look forward to those discussions going forward.”
The council is forecasting a 50 per cent increase in the population in the next 15 years, and has recently shown a clear preference for alternative means of transport in the city to deal with this.
In its latest budget it announced that CBD parking would increase from $5.50 an hour to $7 an hour, alongside further investment in cycling infrastructure.
Cr Capp said the changes proposed in the latest discussion papers would also benefit the city in a retail capacity, with research showing 73 per cent of CBD shoppers do not come into the city by car.
Council transport portfolio chairman Nicolas Frances Gilley said space was clearly becoming an issue.
“We’re thinking about giving some of that space back because at the moment, 30 per cent of people travelling around the city are using 60 per cent of the space,” he said.
Cr Gilley said the council was “in a long dialogue with the people of this city”.
“This is a document for discussion. It’s not saying ‘guess what, no cars’, it’s saying Melbourne, we want to stay beautiful and we want to stay great, let’s start talking.”
The last of eight discussion papers, focusing on “transport pricing” will be released in July.
Members of the public are encouraged to submit their thoughts and ideas surrounding transport issues, which Cr Capp said will form the city’s strategy to 2050.
If you would like to provide feedback, visit participate.melbourne.vic.gov.au/transportstrategy