vehicles squeezing into the merge

Squeezing Lennox Street

Closing the video retuning from the northern suburbs to the city of Melbourne is this recent (1 year old) addition to the Principal Bicycle Network. This particular design with the sharrows (chevrons above the bicycle logo) was rolled out across many of Melbourne’s quieter streets close to the city centre, here with a slight variation that the downhill travelling bicycles use the full lane for the entire length while in the uphill direction a separate lane is provisioned in parts. However the devil is as always in the detail.

bicycle sharing lane

This image is the view out into an undivided section of road from the exit of a roundabout. Owing to space constraints this section of road has a mixed application of the shorter road humps and the longer “flat top road hump” style, neither profiled for bicycle comfort as bicycles are clearly to be given lowest priority. Again the bicycle lanes ignore the mandated clearance from parked cars and are placed directly against both parallel and front in angle parking.

bicycle lane terminates at pinch point

The bicycle lanes continue towards the pinch points at the road humps and intersections indicating a merge to occur. Although this represents a “fair” merge where:

149 Giving way when lines of traffic merge into a single line of traffic
A driver in a line of traffic that is merging with one or more lines of traffic travelling in the same direction as the driver must give way to a vehicle in another line of traffic if any part of the vehicle is ahead of the driver’s vehicle.

What happens in the real world is that the faster vehicles race into the merge and do not yield for the slower vehicles. Off camera at the first roundabout was exactly this situation where a line of faster traffic had a following car (an orange/brown Toyota Corolla with licence plate 1AX 8UO) swing out into the oncoming lane to try and overtake through the merge.

vehicles squeezing into the merge

Even with clear visibility into these sorts of merges traffic will bear down on cyclists and intimidate them from trying to ride onward and its common to see cyclists stopped at merges waiting for gaps in traffic even though that traffic must theoretically give way. Combining the merging and pinch points here with manoeuvring to mount the road humps presents quite the challenge to do safely, despite Austroads noting their use being inappropriate on:

“bus and designated cycle routes unless an acceptable sympathetic design is used”

yet Melbourne (Victoria) through Vicroads manuals specifically reverses this need for varied geometries with:

“The use of sinusoidal profile road humps is not encouraged in Victoria”

and so the design ignores the prevailing national standards here and instead produces the disaster we are sadly accustomed to.

Even where the bicycle lanes are brought through the pinch points as here at the combined oblique road hump/pinch point/horizontal deflection their value is eliminated by the easy route bicycles and other vehicle traffic find by ignoring the horizontal deflection.

oblique road hump

Employing a lane width here of 4.0m in excess of the Austroads 3.0m (10 foot) maximum the benefits of the slow point is entirely lost as drivers travel on the straight line through. In doing so ignoring the marked traffic and bicycle lanes and eliminating the available width that allowed some sections of the bicycle lanes to be continued across the road humps…

wonky bicycle lanes across road hump

Of course this is Melbourne so this bicycle lane that was continued across a road hump has an overly sharp corner, misaligned between the two parts of the lane, and pinched to below the minimum viable width, all from infrastructure only a year old.

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