lane crossing a road

Trading one Lane for another

Hardware Lane crosses the Melbourne city grid north-south in the predominantly east-west design and unusually for the lanes of Melbourne it spans several blocks as a continuous thoroughfare. The entrance from Bourke St across the wide footpath is pictured here.

intersection of Hardware Lane with Bourke Street

Abounds with inconsistent design for a shared space the tactile strips across these driveways suggest that pedestrians must yield and vehicles have free reign, contrasting to the road rules:

74 Giving way when entering a road from a road related area or adjacent land
(1) A driver entering a road from a road related area, or adjacent land, without traffic lights or a stop sign, stop line, give way sign or give way line must give way to-
(a) any vehicle travelling on the road or turning into the road (except a vehicle turning right into the road from a road related area or adjacent land); and
(b) any pedestrian on the road; and
(c) any vehicle or pedestrian on any road related area that the driver crosses to enter the road; and
(d) for a driver entering the road from a road related area—
(i) any pedestrian on the road related area; and
(ii) any other vehicle ahead of the driver’s vehicle or approaching from the left or right.

Which with reinforcement of the included pictorial example require all vehicle movements to give way to pedestrians. Another typical problem repeated here being queuing of vehicles against the road then block the pedestrian access as there is insufficient clearance from the kerb to the traffic lanes to allow vehicles to wait for a gap clear of the footpath. Finally the small signage lost amongst the commercial advertising includes the correct shared zone designation but the questionable informational sign tries to claim the road is closed. Continuing into the lane the wide area tries to maintain delineation of the “shared” space as distinct from the footpath.


And then spontaneously turns into street cafes without sufficient width even for a suitable footpath (despite being one of the wider examples of trading in Melbournes lanes)

narrowing of thoroughfare

Of course these establishments enjoy the unfettered access of a road shared space once they have removed their furniture, evidenced by the continuation of vehicle signage through the lane.

lane crossing a road

Here a no right hand turn sign reminds vehicles of the one way Little Bourke Street they are entering, as at the other end no end shared zone sign is present, but at least the continuing lane includes a more clear no entry sign operating from 11am to 11pm. Looking down toward the surface the blunders continue with the complete lack of regard for pedestrians; The tactile surface creates a barrier across the lane where it meets the footpath of Little Bourke St but then has no indication of where that footpath crosses the Street, even for those with full vision not requiring the assistance of tactile paving the Street has no substantial delineation and a level continuous surface leading pedestrians to walk out in front of moving traffic (there are no crossing warning signs for this traffic table as this is not a pedestrian crossing). Into the distance the encroachment of the eateries can be seen falling into the lane leaving inadequate space for the bidirectional foot traffic.

Dense cities are hard to manage but keeping cars (equal perhaps with trams) as the priority transport choice while handing over the precious public space for commercial interests exclusive use is slowly strangling transport across Melbourne.


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