We're working towards a healthier Sydney Road to live, work and play on.
By removing on-street parking from Sydney Road, active transport such as walking and cycling will become safer and more accessible, promoting healthy lifestyles for residents and the community and increasing usage and attendance of the Sydney Road area.
Currently, Sydney Road is a hotspot for road trauma with cyclists and cars colliding in huge numbers causing injury and even death.
VicRoads reports that “in the five year period ending June 2015 there were a total of 178 casualty crashes between Brunswick Road and Albion Street. 92 of those involved cyclists, and 25 were car dooring.”
In February 2015, Alberto Paulon was struck and killed by a car door when cycling down Sydney Road – a tragic accident that should never have been made possible.
The scale of injury along Sydney Road causes untold damage to people and families, to our health system, and to the economy.
By placing cyclists in the exact area that car owners must open their doors, the current environment is bound to lead to continued accidents.
It should not be a challenge for cars and bikes to interact safely – neither drivers nor riders should be put in a position where injury is always a possibility.
Physical inactivity costs Australia $13.8 billion a year. Globally, the mortality burden from inactivity has been compared to cigarette smoking. We need to encourage Australians to be more active in their day to day life, but we shouldn’t expect them to put themselves in danger to do so.
By making Sydney Road safer, we can encourage people less willing to take risks on the road to cycle. Safer environments equal more cyclists, promoting community health.
Other factors affecting health such as air quality can benefit too. By removing on-street parking from Sydney Road it would allow two major routes for large amounts of cyclists to utilise – removing more cars and air pollution from the road.
The nearby Upfield bike path, already at capacity, has been closed for two years by a development project, requiring a slow and convoluted detour. Now is the time to remove on-street parking and open up more options for commuters.
In addition to safety on the road, we want to support whole communities to be healthy and prosperous. Evidence has shown that increasing bicycle accessibility increases trading activity.
Installation of bicycle lanes on Valencia Road in San Francisco led to 40% of traders reporting increased sales (with no reports of decreased sales). New York’s bike oriented strategy increased retail attendance significantly, for example Ninth Avenue which saw an increase in retail sales outpacing the area following introduction of a separated bike lane.
Traders along Sydney Road who may be concerned about impacts to their businesses can also be reassured by the huge amounts of off-street parking already available to residents and visitors. Research done by Revitalise Sydney Road, another group advocating for removal of on-street parking, conducted parking surveys showing 31% of off-street parking would remain empty if all on-street cars were relocated off street during peak periods.
Who supports removing on-street parking?
The City of Moreland, the local government area covering the are, has been in favour of the proposal for a long time. Even the RACV, the state's premier motorist group, has expressed their support in their member's magazine.
Many local groups including Revitalise Sydney Road have been campaigning for this change for a long time, and in the wake of Mr. Paulon's death, large numbers of individuals have mobilised for the cause.
What needs to change?
VicRoads are responsible for Sydney Road and any changes to it. While 'safety improvements' were introduced in 2015 including signs and speed limit adjustments, they have not solved the problem. It's time for VicRoads to make definitive changes in improving the safety of Sydney Road by removing on-street parking.
Instead, the parking lane of Sydney Road should accommodate a widened pedestrian area, accessible tram stops and a separated bike lane, similar to that along High Street in Northcote.
When we think about the future of our city, what do we want? Encouragement of cars and parking - or a transformation of our neighbourhoods towards safe, active transport which improves the health, prosperity and lifestyles of our neighbourhoods? We’re calling for VicRoads to #parkoff Sydney Road.