Melbourne mayor looks to discourage cyclists from some streets

In a first for cycle safety, those on bikes could be told to avoid dangerous streets altogether

Cyclists could be advised to avoid a number of Melbourne streets deemed "unsafe" for cycling, under plans to cut deaths and serious injuries in the city.

In Australia's latest move to anger cyclists, a draft plan has been released suggesting certain roads should be declared "non-preferable routes" for cyclists.

Although the plan also proposes increasing safe cycle routes and bike parking the suggestion of non-preferable routes was met with derision by cycling groups, who say this is another case where cyclists are considered a lower priority than motor traffic.

The City of Melbourne's mayor, Robert Doyle, told 3AW radio station: "I don't like the word ban. I like to say some streets yes, some streets maybe, some streets no. A traffic light system."

"At the moment the road rules say [cyclists] can, they can go anywhere."

"It's not just the safety of the cyclist and the immediate vehicle.

"Often, because it's so narrow, the cars actually have to move out a lane or a half lane - it creates traffic confusion behind, and that creates danger as well.

"I just think to myself, honestly, high volumes of buses travelling at speed and bikes just don't mix."

Nik Dow, from the Melbourne Bicycle Users Group, told The Age: "Every time there's a clash between bikes and cars, council supports the cars."

"This is not planning that will get people riding. Their thinking is all wrong."

The proposals are part of the city's draft bicycle plan, which was presented to council after community engagement. Other aspects of the plan include building inter-connected neighbourhood routes and a floating pontoon bike route on the Yarra River.

As Doyle points out, however, not all of the roads are under his jurisdiction, and are instead the remit of VicRoads, the regional transport body.

He added the city's bike lanes have been built "at expense" and cyclists should use them.

"The designated lane is there to keep people safe and that's why we want them to use it. I think we will come to a point at some point where we designate streets," he said.

"Banning it? Well that's for VicRoads, not for us, but we can certainly start that process of education, saying to people, look, there are some streets where it's simply not safe to ride, that's common sense, let's abide by that.

"This is not anti-cycle, this is pro-cycle, this is common sense to keep people safe."

He went on to say VicRoads "is interested" to look into potential streets where it's "just not safe" to cycle, citing Copenhagen as a city where some roads don't permit bikes.

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