Thursday, 11 April 2013



PRINCES BRIDGE IN MELBOURNE is a traffic choke point. The bridge is the southern end of Swanston Street. South across the Yarra River is the wide, tree-lined boulevarde St Kilda Road.

Flinders Street runs parallel to the river and crosses Swanston Street at what is arguably the city's most famous intersection. On each corner are the inspiring station, the ancient pub, the majestic cathedral and the horrible square.

Cars are banned from Swanston north of Flinders Street so two lanes of car traffic turn to and from Princes Bridge. VicRoads says 27,000 cars cross the bridge each day. Bicycle Network Victoria says 4,900 pushbike riders use Swanston Street every day.

So with Princes Bridge jammed with cars most of the day, VicRoads has approved a plan to give bicyclists a  lane to themselves by reducing two car lanes in each direction to one each way! The City of Melbourne ear-marked $150.000 for the bike lanes.

Last Wednesday the City of Melbourne hosted a presentation on the proposed bicycle lanes. All the usual suspects were invited - police, taxis drivers, bus people, cyclists and other stakeholders. Motorcyclists and scooter riders were not informed as far as I know. If a motorcycle organisation was asked to attend, they kept it to themselves.

My opinion is that single occupant cars make up 70% of Melbourne traffic on week days so discouraging those drivers from making unnecessary trips is good but what about taxis, buses, tourist coaches and motorcycle & scooter riders that must use Princes Bridge? Did the crew that thought this one up even consider motorcycle & scooter riders? If they did, they didn't contact us.

In the past I've felt that being permitted to use bus lanes, like bicyclists are, was the important issue. I felt it was not good strategy to compete with bicyclists for their exclusive pushbike lanes. BUT, this Princes Bridge plan signals the need to review that policy and seek to allow motorcycles & scooters to use bicycle lanes for short distances starting with Princes Bridge if the plan goes ahead.

Bicyclists get a very, very fair go considering what they contribute to the system compared to road motorcycle & scooter riders. Their argument that most pushbike riders pay rego on cars does not hold water. Most motorcycle & scooter riders pay rego on cars too. PLUS we pay extortionate fees to ride on road including the TAC antibike tax.

Claims that bicycle riding is good for the community because of health benefits hold some water (in a leaky brown paper bag) but there are health benefits for society as a whole from riding motorcycles & scooters too. If your compared the serious injury rate for on-road pushbike riders with that for on-road motorcycle & scooter riders, I think you would find that we cost society less because we wear better protective gear than bicyclists.

So why do bicycle riders get such a good deal from governments?

I reckon there are three main reasons:

  1. Bicyclists do what we used to do. They lobby hard and professionally. They attend a lot of meetings, not just transport, planning, health, education and so on.
  2. Bicyclists do not suffer the apathy of the motorcycle community. Their events are big and their industry supports them both with sponsorship and mainstream advertising. The public see them.
  3. Bicyclists work hard on their public image. here is always a bicycle event in the paper or on the telly. The only thing the motorcycle community and industry gives serious support to is competition. That's not bad but we won't get a fair go till we do more.
  4. Positive media on pushbikes is everywhere. Negative media on motorcycles & scooters is everywhere.
The Independent Riders' Group is working on a TOY RUN in Melbourne's CBD and a ride-to-work-day. Interested? Join now. It's free and you can withdraw whenever you like. All we need is your name, post code and email address sent to:

Have a look at the IRG facebook page.

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