TWiSK reaches 350 editions

TWiSK: This Week in St Kilda has reached the 350 edition milestone after making it’s first post in February 2016.
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Cycling and the Federal election: public forum

Cycling and the Federal Election: Which party loves cycling as much as you do?
Free online forum organised by local government to hear what all major parties will do to support cycling.
Thursday 24 February 6.30 pm – 8.00 pm

Visit the MTF website to watch a recording and view the contents list
Watch Now


An MTF/MAV event for all councillors and council staff was held on Zoom on Monday 18 October.
Below are recordings of the presentations and Q&A for each session together with presentation materials where available.

Victoria’s Bus Plan
Naomi Langdon Director On Road Transport Planning, Department of Transport
Video of presentation (41 mins)
Slides PDF

Transitioning to Electric Buses
Iain Lawrie PhD candidate University of Melbourne
Video of presentation (38 mins) 
Slides PDF

Short videos from Mildura and Bendigo
Mayor Cr Jason Modica, Mildura Rural City Council
Video 2.5 mins
Brendan Aikman, Strategic Planner, City of Greater Bendigo
Video 2.5 mins

Demand Responsive Transit – Rowville Trial
Juan Carbonell (Moovit) and Hayden Matthews (Ventura)
Video presentation (38 mins)
Slides PDF

Bus Advocacy Panel
Cr Sarah Race (Mornington Peninsula), Cr Adele Hegedich (Wyndham) and Jarrod Malone (Geelong)
Video presentation (43 mins) 
Wyndham slides
Mornington Peninsula 

MTF: Love for better buses

The future of buses was ‘electric’ at the October MTF Meeting with inspiring presentations from Victorian Transport Action Group and TransDev.

The meeting also bid farewell to Cr Jackie Fristacky, long time Yarra delegate and transport advocate. Jackie is not standing for election again in Yarra after 18 years on council.

Victorian Transport Action Group’s Peter Parker inspired the room with ten opportunities to dramatically improve bus services. His detailed worked included many improvements that could be achieved simply by tweaking existing routes. You will love the understanding of route planning in this presentation.

TransDev’s Loretta Lynch offered a glimpse into the future with her report on their recent street level trial of a locally made e-bus in Melbourne. Incredibly quiet and exhaust free, the e-bus has delighted drivers and transported passengers on the 246 route for many months. But there’s a lot to learn about making e-buses work on streets: recharging options and opportunities (including solar), coping with unexpected delays (especially in hot weather with air con draining the charge), size of vehicles, production costs and more. “It’s all about the practicalities of matching buses to routes,” said Loretta.

Challenges aside, e-buses are clearly the future, with NSW set to buy 1000 e-buses as part of a complete transformation of the fleet over 2 decades.

Peter’s presentation
Loretta’s presentation TBA
E-bus fact sheet

Getting the wheels turning, fast and almost free

MTF Cycling Ambassador Cr Tom Melican. Pic: Herald Sun

Former mayors want to make the most of COVID inspired walking and cycling by making it easier for councils to lower speed limits on local side roads.

Cycling and walking may not be as politically compelling as tunnels and trains, but practically cost-free ideas emerging from local government could deliver powerful, profound and positive change in the way Melbournians choose to make short trips.

Here’s a thought. Simply by reducing the speed limits on selected suburban streets more people will choose to walk or ride for many local trips.

And before car drivers start honking their horns in protest, we are not talking about main streets or busy thoroughfares. This idea applies only to selected local side streets chosen by councils because they are suitable and provide easy access to common destinations. For drivers, it only adds seconds to their trips, if it makes any difference at all.

Our simple plan is to enable councils to reduce speed limits to 30 kph on selected streets to quieten traffic and make local trips by foot or bike much more attractive. This will capitalise on one of the few benefits of the COVID restrictions, namely more local cycling and walking. It will also reduce the Department of Transport’s lengthy and time-consuming assessment of individual Council applications for speed reductions across 79 Councils.

It also sets up our suburbs to better cope with the long-term impacts of COVID safe social distancing and changing work habits. With more people working and learning at home, we’ve seen bike shops booming and footpaths buzzing as trips to local destinations like takeaways and food shops have become daily highlights.

This fundamental shift in behaviour has been imposed by COVID; but it could be the catalyst for clever, easy and inexpensive changes to make cycling and walking more attractive for more people.

Giving local councils the power to reduce speed limits to 30 kms on council local roads, would make cycling and walking more attractive without expensive infrastructure. All it takes is some signage, community information and education. It could also be done in a pop-up style, without extensive works or planning – and reversed easily if required.

International data, Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) reports and a recent 30km trial in Fitzroy-Collingwood local streets assessed by MUARC, all show that 30 km limits reduces crashes and make both pedestrians and cyclist feel safer. A swag of positive side effects result: more kids walking to school; more people cycling for local trips; quieter and friendlier streets; and of course, a multiplicity of health benefits. This is why 30km/h is a common limit on local streets in Europe.

Working from home also changes what many need from their local economy. The coffee shop of choice will be a walk or ride away; the work break can also be a local shop break; getting the kids could be a walk instead of a drive. These are changes that will be welcomed by many local businesses struggling for a post-COVID future.

Predictions that up to one in five people will now work regularly from home, at least several days a week, indicate a seismic shift in the way we use our streets and suburbs. The commute to work will be less important, while the trip to local destinations becomes more important. Pre COVID, 20% of car trips were less than 2 kms, and 50% under 5 kms. If we are smart, we can change this to make walking and cycling the preferred mode for most local trips.

In the short term, it’s likely that traffic congestion will increase across Melbourne as more people use private cars instead of public transport for commuting. This only reinforces the importance of walking and cycling for local trips because it takes those trips off the busy, congested arterial roads.

By walking and cycling more, many Melbournians are already sending a message to their governments, now is the time to listen to them and act.

Cr Tom Melican is former Mayor of Banyule and Cr Jackie Fristacky was Mayor of Yarra. Both are passionate cyclists.

DoT looks towards recovery

DoT looks towards recovery and getting Melbourne moving again.

MTF September meeting was very pleased to get a comprehensive briefing from senior Department of Transport officers about the new structure and the priorities in these COVID times. This included advocating Councils bring forward Active Transport projects for rapid approval.

Nick Foa, Deputy Secretary, Transport Operations, Department of Transport, explained the structures and priorities. While Alan Fedda, Executive Director of Metropolitan North-West Victoria, Department of Transport, provided a deep dive into the projects on the go.

The breathtaking takeaway was the scope of the new DOT: More than $70 billion in projects, 120K jobs, 4K employees, 40 acts of parliament, and three ministers. Interestingly, within this monolithic structure, roads and public transport are covered by one Minister – Ben Carroll.

Every Department has a set of headline goals, in this case mission priorities were a reformist agenda:

1 Significantly less congested metropolitan networks
2 Faster more reliable freight movement
3 First and last mile mobility.

Much emphasis was given to progressing Victoria’s Big Build despite COVID restriction. The list of projects on the go is staggering. But even so, they have one eye on the post COVID normal and another on coping with increased traffic congestion as PT usage remains lower than normal.

Alan Fedda provided a detailed insight into the roll-out of congestion busting technology across the road network. This included trials of real time adjustments informed by a roll-out of 700 CCTV cameras and other data sources.

Of most immediate interest to LG was moves to make all clearways tow-away zones and increased road-occupation charges.

Mr Fedda recommended Councils bring forward innovative active transport projects, like pop-up bike infrastructure. He said DOT were keen to innovate to get people moving.

He said the State was already building 250kms of new active transport links.

Walk and ride to boost the local economy

MTF meeting 5 August 2020
Key note speakers:
Melisa Backhouse, Vic Health;
Ben Rossiter, Victoria Walks

It was not a coincidence that the MTF August meeting heard two presentations on active transport. Not only is it one of our top three ABC issues, it’s also very COVID current.

Both presentations highlighted the ‘opportunities’ that COVID changes present for local government. The data shows that people are walking and cycling more, creating opportunities to support and encourage this in the future.

But also, walking and cycling could be a powerful support for the local economy. Could a ‘walk to local’ message simultaneously help maintain active transport and support hard hit local businesses in your LGA?

Walk local, cycle local, buy local …..

The presentations

Melisa Backhouse from Vic Health looked at cycling and walking projects that’s Councils can get involved with. They are working closely with MAV, especially Geoff Oultan to reenergise walking and cycling, especially to school and other short trips.
View PowerPoint

Ben Rossiter from Victoria Walks presented on what he called the ‘invisible transport mode’ – walking. Most interesting was the increase in recreational walking during the COVID restrictions and data on the economic benefits of increased walking.
Dropbox link to Victoria Walks presentation by Ben Rossiter

Responding to COVID across all forms of transport – DOT

Presentation to MTF 1 July 2020
Brett Langley
A/Head of Transport Services, Department of Transport

Brett Langley presented on the wide-ranging impacts of the COVID 19 transport network, which he described as being part of a pervasive emergency context since the start of 2020.

He commented on the department’s response, its work with the Department of Health, its continuing monitoring of patronage and staff wellbeing, and also what strategic actions it is considering providing greater flexibility for the system into the future.

Topics included

Restrictions saw a 90 per cent drop in public transport patronage
Restrictions also caused a 40 per cent drop in traffic
Traffic volumes have returned to ~85% as restrictions have eased
Movement of freight remains a priority
Changing travel patterns on arterial road network
PT patronage has climbed back to ~ 30 per cent
Drive Easy COVID-19 Congestion Management Interventions
Challenges & opportunities for 2021 and beyond

See Brett’s presentation

More cycling could be COVID’s positive legacy

Cr Melican is a Banyule councillor and the Metropolitan Transport Forum’s cycling ambassador. Image: Herald Sun

As Melbourne’s cycling ambassador, Cr Tom Melican is organising councils across town to look at ways to make cycling a more realistic alternative for more people.

The shock arrival of COVID-19 and the enduring restrictions on social distancing are set to profoundly change the way Melbourne moves.

Already many Melbournians have taken to cycling during the restrictions. They have marvelled at their city with fewer cars on the road and revelled in the opportunity to be more active in a safer, less polluted world. Strange and uncertain times indeed, but could this be a real chance to recognise the lasting role that cycling can play in a healthy city?

While nobody is sure what the future holds, we can be confident that safe social distancing will severely limit the capacity of public transport while greater reliance on private cars will only lead to hellish gridlock. It’s a predicament that’s not likely to go away quickly.

Local governments have already adjusted activities to meet the COVID situation. Now most councils are looking at the serious implications for mobility within their municipalities and city-wide.

What will be the impact of social distancing on public transport capacity and usage? What are the implications of more people working from home more often? How can we encourage active transport for everyday mobility needs? How will footpaths cope with more outside dining, walking and riding? Can already congested roads cope with even more cars?

Overseas, and indeed in the Melbourne CBD, local authorities are acting swiftly to provide alternatives to unsafely crowded public transport. There is a growing lobby calling for wide-spread and immediate pop-up cycling infrastructure in response to reduced capacity of public transport. In local government, Melbourne City Council is leading the charge with funding to replace some car parking with footpaths and 12 kilometres of pop-up cycling lanes to allow people to socially distance in the CBD.

A plethora of other organisations are also backing moves to more active transport. Obvious lobbies like the Bicycle Network are keen, so too are Infrastructure Victoria, Infrastructure Australia, mental health organisations and also the RACV.

Councils across Melbourne are now assessing ideas to keep people moving for work, education and day-to-day activities. They will be looking at pop-up cycle lanes, wider footpaths and quick ways to make active transport more attractive. Some of these ideas will be temporary, others more enduring.

Asking a rhetorical question might help guide this shift. What could be the legacy of COVID for Melbourne’s mobility? Could it be a sustained lift in active transport?

As cycling ambassador, I am hoping that these difficult times will be remembered for the actions we took to reinstate cycling and walking as safe, fun and healthy transport alternatives for more Melbournians.

Cr Melican is a Banyule councillor and the Metropolitan Transport Forum’s cycling ambassador.