Bike lanes and bus stops on Southbank Boulevard

In 2018 the City of Melbourne started work to transform Southbank Boulevard, reclaiming underused roadways to create 2.5 hectares of public space and neighbourhood parkland for the people of Southbank, Melbourne’s most densely populated suburb.

Turning road into parkland at the corner of Sturt Street and Southbank Boulevard

Something new

Work started at the eastern section of Southbank Boulevard and was completed in three stages.

  • Stage 1 A – Early works: Early July to 21 September 2018
  • Stage 1 B – Tram occupation works: 22-30 September 2018
  • Stage 1 C – Civil and footpath works: 1 October 2018 to August 2019

Rebuilding the route 1 tram tracks on a new alignment.

Relaid tram tracks at Southbank Boulevard and St Kilda Road

With bike lanes along either side.

Z3.171 heads east on route 1 along Southbank Boulevard

Four bus routes also travel along Southbank Boulevard:

  • 216 Sunshine Station – Brighton Beach
  • 219 Sunshine South – Gardenvale
  • 220 Sunshine – City – Gardenvale
  • 605 Gardenvale – Flagstaff Station

So something new was provided – a ‘platform stop’ for bus passengers.

'Platform stop' across the bike lane for eastbound buses on Southbank Boulevard

The bike lane passing right beside the bus stop on a raised hump.

'Platform stop' across the bike lane for eastbound buses on Southbank Boulevard

With cyclists on the bike lane having to give way to bus passengers.

'Cyclists stop behind buses' sign at a bus stop on Southbank Boulevard

This design having replaced the original plans where the bike lane disappeared through each bus stop.

But will it work?

Trams have been stopping in the middle of the Melbourne roads for years.

Westbound Z3.205 picks up passengers on Maribyrnong Road near Ascot Vale Road

Despite the fact the motorists keep driving past tram stops, leaving a trail of injured passengers.

After almost hitting a few people, driver of WZV799 decides they should stop

And Melbourne also has a precedent for cyclists travelling along a bike lane sharing space with passengers boarding public transport vehicles – the tram stops on Swanston Street.

Northbound Z3.141 arrives at the Melbourne Central tram stop on Swanston

Back in 2011 nobody had any idea how to use them.

Cyclists at the Swanston Street tram stop navigate a pack of passengers blocking the bike lane

But in the years since you could almost consider them a success.

Cyclists stop for route 67 passengers boarding B2.2011 at Swanston and Collins Street

And there is one problem yet to be solved – there doesn’t appear to be legislation backing the ‘cyclists stop behind buses’ sign at the bus stop.

'Cyclists stop behind buses' sign at a bus stop on Southbank Boulevard

Road rule 163 describes “driving past the rear of a stopped tram at a tram stop” – but makes no mention of passing stopped buses to the left.

And so far the new ‘platform’ bus stop has yet to see a bus stop at it – CDC Melbourne route 605 has been diverting around the area since July 2018 until work is completed on Southbank Boulevard, and Transdev bus routes 216, 219 and 220 no longer pass through the area, having been split into two sections in September 2018, and then completely reformed in November 2019.

But with the completion of the Southbank Boulevard works not coming until 2021, it will be some time until we find out whether cyclists will ever be asked to share the road with bus passengers.

March 2020 update

Looks like I didn’t need to wait that long – route 605 is returning to Southbank Boulevard from Sunday 29 March.

Footnote

City of Melbourne diagram of the area.

And the bus stop itself.

Further reading

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14 Responses to “Bike lanes and bus stops on Southbank Boulevard”

  1. Bob says:

    This idea of a raised bike lane running past a PT stop matches the design which was recently implemented in Balaclava Rd, outside Balaclava Station. The 1.2m wide bike lane is raised through the tram stop, and is probably the best example of the bus stop treatment mentioned above.

    Daniel Bowen has some pictures in this post here https://www.danielbowen.com/2018/09/27/ride-the-highline-if-you-can/

    From a legislative perspective, it wouldn’t be difficult to add some wording to existing tram legislation to cover this new bus stop. However, I do wonder if they got too clever with this new design. Why reinvent the wheel again?

    1) buses are fitted with ramps to pick up people with disabilities from any roadside stop. Why the need for the raised platform?

    2) why not follow existing practice, with an island bus stop and the bicycle lane passing behind it? Providing zebra crossings at both ends of the bus stop would provide pedestrian priority as desired without adding confusion.

    Overall I’m got anything that improves the bus network and elevates PT/active transport over cars, but i think they might have missed the mark with the bus stop

    • Julian Calaby says:

      The issue with the ramps built into buses (and, to a lesser extent, trams) is that the front door of a bus is simply too busy to actually use them.

      My understanding is that people tend to step on the ramps as the driver is raising them, pressing them down and potentially crushing their fingers, so drivers are understandably reluctant to use them.

      So ultimately a kerbside solution is ideal here for the same reason that platform tram stops are better than having the driver use the built-in ramps.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      On route 109 along Whitehorse Road the bike lane diverts behind the back of the tram stops.

      C.3021 citybound on Whitehorse Road in Mont Albert

  2. Beren says:

    In regards to the stopping behind trams, these are the hazards controls in decreasing order of effect:

    Elimination
    Substitution
    Risk Transfer
    Engineering controls
    Administrative controls
    Personal protective equipment

    So, the least effective measure would be people wearing yellow vests. Further up, I would consider the law to be an administrative control. And that is the second least effective measure for preventing such injury. I’ve had this debate with a few people, especially in regards to the yellow buses in the US. Having vehicles stop behind a public transport vehicle is a very poor method for preventing injury.

    Do you know what the best method is? Elimination. Don’t stand on the road. It eliminates the issue completely. Not saying you can’t board the tram, just you should look first.

  3. Andrew says:

    All very commendable but what a waste of money on bus stops in Southbank Boulevard and St Kilda Road with the buses being permanently withdrawn. Maybe the 605 will return but it a lot of money for one fairly quiet bus route.

  4. Drew says:

    216/219 are now 603. Permanent Alfred Hospital termination
    220 is 604 and terminates currently at AH. There is talk of it extenging after Metro has completed.

  5. […] out Melbourne has a precedent for bus stops on a bike lane, and on the very same route – down on Southbank Boulevard, completed in July […]

  6. […] started on the Transforming Southbank Boulevard project in 2018, with work due to be completed by […]

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