Fury over 'suboptimal' city bike lane

There is confusion over a Melbourne bike lane blocked by garbage bins.

A photo of Eldridge Street in the city’s inner western suburb of Footscray was shared on Reddit.

“This separated bike lane seems suboptimal,” the person who posted the photo wrote.

The picture shows four garbage bins blocking the cycling lane.

It raised a lot of questions from Reddit users.

Eldridge Street in Footscray is pictured with large bins sitting in the bike lane.
People are confused by the placement of bins in this bike lane in Footscray, Melbourne. Source: Reddit

“Whoever designed this road infrastructure really didn't think it through,” one person wrote.

Another added cyclists shouldn’t be treated as “second class citizens”.

Others pointed out another problem: bin access.

“It's going to suck for the garbos,” one person wrote.

“Why do councils always forget about bins?” another person wrote.

Footscray, in the local government area of Maribyrnong, is one of many areas in Melbourne outlined as part of the state’s wider cycling strategy.

Part of that strategy includes dedicated cycling lanes separated from roadways to protect cyclists, many of which have already been installed.

Residents to be reminded to keep lane free

Steve Hamilton, the City of Maribyrnong’s director of infrastructure services, told Yahoo News Australia the “separator island” on Eldridge Street was installed “a few weeks ago”.

“The separator island aims to keep the cycle lane clear of traffic with drivers asked to park to the right hand side of the separator, to ensure cyclists have clear passage and are protected,” Mr Hamilton said.

“Residents in this street are expected to leave their bins on the nature strip as is common throughout the municipality and waste collection services wheel them out as required to empty them and return them to the nature strip.”

Cyclists are seen along the Boulevard in Melbourne's suburb of Kew.
Cyclists ride on the Boulevard in Melbourne's suburb of Kew. The city's been working on bike pathways to encourage people to cycle over the past few years. Source: Getty Images

Mr Hamilton said council will be sending letters to body corporates and residents in Eldridge Street to ensure the bins are left on nature strips or footpaths adjacent to the kerb, and that these bins are brought back onto residential properties once emptied.

“We will continue to monitor the bicycle lane to ensure that it remains clear,” he said.

“The separator is part of our commitment to deliver bicycle improvements over the next 10 years in the City of Maribyrnong, as outlined in our Bicycle Strategy.”

A ‘lack of understanding’

Stephen Hodge, the advocacy director for We Ride Australia, told Yahoo News Australia councils need to be commended for installing bike paths.

But he feels there’s a “lack of understanding” among some people about the value they bring to communities.

“People have really recently discovered the joy of cycling and exercise throughout the pandemic and we can’t afford to lose that,” he told Yahoo News Australia.

“COVID’s been an enormous opportunity for people to enjoy cycling and being active.”

The Bicycle Network, a non-profit cycling advocacy group, told The Age in May some of Melbourne’s bike paths had seen huge increases in activity.

The Gardiners Creek Trail, in Melbourne’s southeast, saw 911 cyclists on April 25 compared to 231 in November 10 - an increase of 294 per cent.

Maribyrnong River Trail saw 299 riders on April 25 - a jump of 321 per cent from November 10.

Mr Hodge added the Eldridge Road route is important as it connects many homes to a local high school.

“We need to be clear about the value of these assets for communities,”he said.

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