VTA calls for safety rethink on Port of Melbourne access

Container2

The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) has labelled plans to develop an on-road cycling path on Lorimer Street in a future Fishermans Bend precinct “irresponsible recipe for disaster.”

A draft of the Fishermans Bend Framework released late last month by Planning Minister Richard Wynne and Member for Albert Park Martin Foley contains recommendations for cycling and other infrastructure to support the 80,000 people and jobs the Victorian Government hopes to attract to the new precinct.

The draft contains a map of existing and proposed cycling infrastructure, including a north-south strategic cycling corridor connecting to a new Lorimer Street on-road cycling path between the Bolte and West Gate Bridge.

“Lorimer Street is a gazetted freight route for heavy vehicles and is intensively used by trucks of up to 70 tonnes travelling between Webb Dock and road and rail freight infrastructure closer to town,” said Peter Anderson, CEO, Victorian Transport Association.

“It is also home to numerous concrete suppliers that are visited by hundreds of trucks every day that deliver to building sites throughout Melbourne.”

He added that while the VTA fully supports infrastructure that encourages commuters onto bikes and away from cars, the only gazetted freight route servicing the south side of the Port of Melbourne is “the last place we should be putting a shared path.”

“It’s an irresponsible recipe for disaster to encourage cycling on a road so intensively used by heavy vehicles, and is the precise opposite of what we recommended in early consultations,” he added. “For planners to have included an on-road cycling path on Lorimer Street in the draft framework defies logic.”

The VTA has previously advised the government in its precinct planning to encourage cycling and pedestrian traffic to Williamstown Road, and to actively separate heavy vehicles from cyclists where possible, as is happening in Melbourne’s west.

“Regardless of who is at fault, the cyclist will always be worse off in a collision with a truck, so why on earth would you encourage their close interaction on a shared roadway?” Anderson said. “Elsewhere in Melbourne, we are actively separating bicycles from trucks on freight routes so it stands to reason we should be doing this in Fishermans Bend precinct planning.”

Anderson welcomed objectives in the draft to safeguard port access by preserving a direct road and rail corridor between Webb, Swanson and Appleton Docks and the Dynon Road freight terminal.