Why this picture of a Melbourne walkway has caused a heated debate

In the centre of Melbourne, near the Arts Centre known as Hamer Hall, you’ll find a busy walkway that has drawn the ire of some locals.

Its sloping gradient and the fact that it’s the only non-stair route means it’s popular with cyclists – too popular apparently.

A series of metal barriers have been erected along the path in close succession to force cyclists to dismount. But not everyone is thrilled with the cumbersome solution put in place earlier this month with some pointing to unintended consequences.

Debate raged on Twitter recently, with a number of residents complaining about the poles, calling them “annoying” and “short term thinking”.

“I don't think I could fit my running pram down here,” said one Twitter user, sharing a photo of the metal barriers.

“There are no bumps for the vision impaired, imagine trying to tackle this on a wheelchair,” they added.

The pathway near Hamer Hall can be seen with as many as five yellow metal barriers impeding the path.
The new yellow barriers causing a controversy. Source: Twitter/Mdp01

It sparked debate about the need to clutter the walkway with anti-bike poles.

“I used this Arts Centre path as my regular cycling route in 2004-2005 from my job at Southbank to get onto Princes Bridge. There didn’t seem much pedestrian/cycling conflict: now it’s worse for everybody,” wrote one person.

“Anyone near by got an angle grinder?” joked one user.

However others thought such an intervention was probably necessary.

“Walk this route daily and the amount of people getting or nearly getting cleaned up by bikes coming down the hill has been astonishing,” commented one person.

The yellow barriers were put in place “after several near misses with cyclists and pedestrians” due to cyclists ignoring signs, a spokesperson from Hamer Hall told Yahoo News Australia.

The land is on private property, so the City of Melbourne council had nothing to do with the decision, it confirmed to Yahoo News.

“We want everyone to be able to access the surrounds and our buildings so the barriers were put in place earlier this month after signs and line marking encouraging cyclists to dismount were not being followed,” the Hamer Hall spokesperson said.

“As the ramp is steep and it’s a shared zone for walkers, runners, prams and cyclists alike we needed it to be available for all to use safely.”

As for the online complaints, she said the width between the poles is the standard door width which provides access for all pedestrians whether they have a pram, a wheelchair, or a mobility scooters. For anything larger, there is 24-hour lift is access.

In May, the Melbourne City Council promised to help ease the crush of pedestrians and cyclists on Southbank Promenade, near Hamer Hall, with a $5 million revamp of the riverside walkway.

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