Taking Lanes on Key Melbourne Arterial Road

Melbourne / Victoria

Many Melbourne residents and some visitors would be familiar with Heidelberg Road which is one of the main arterials that radiates out from the city to the suburbs.

Heidelberg road is wider and faster than many of the inner city arterials, with three lanes in each direction on the scenic first stretch which cuts through Yarra Bend Park.

While the view may be scenic in parts, previously, this road was too intimidating for many potential cyclists to use.

Just before Christmas, pop up bike lane installation began in both directions, opening in January 2021. These were a full vehicle lane wide in both directions, reducing the number of motor vehicle lanes and also requiring reductions in the amount and times of car parking.

This project was part of a $13 million plan to install 100 kilometres of new and improved bike routes across Melbourne to make it safer for people to ride to and from the city.

In pre-covid times the odds of taking lanes and parking from one of Melbourne’s main arterial roads would have been slim.

You can watch a Bicycle Network video of riding one direction of the new pop up lane here.

The acid test will be whether the temporary lanes can become permanent or will succumb to ‘bike lash’ blowback.

True to form the Murdoch owned Herald Sun newspaper in Melbourne has their knives out. Under the headline ‘‘Shocking decision’: Parking removed for bike lanes’, one article begins, ‘Cyclists have won out over car parks along Heidelberg Rd in a controversial move that could destroy businesses and affect a popular park.’

On 2nd February shock jock Neil Mitchell of AM talkback radio station 3AW has joined the pile on. In grilling Nick Foa, Head of Transport Services at the Victorian Department of Transport, his questions included “Do the cyclists pay anything to use it? “It’s pretty strategic for cars too, isn’t it.” “100 kilometres costs $13 million right?” and “That’s $130,000 per kilometre, is it paved with gold?”

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