The city’s Little Streets will become more pedestrian friendly to allow for social distancing and encourage a return to the CBD when COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease.
Over the coming weeks, speed limits will be reduced from 40 to 20 kilometres per hour in the following streets, commencing with the Spring Street end of Flinders Lane from Monday 31 August:
- Flinders Lane
- Little Collins Street
- Little Bourke Street
- Little Lonsdale Street
Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the changes will help improve safety for people walking and riding when workers and shoppers return to the city.
“This initiative forms part of our plans for reactivating our city when restrictions ease,” the Lord Mayor said.
“To help our CBD businesses, we need to provide more space for people so they can confidently physically distance while moving around the city.
“Many of our footpaths are less than two metres wide, so there’s not enough space for people to pass each other safely while maintaining physical distance. The changes will ease footpath congestion as people safely return to the city.
“People walking will be prioritised over motorists and cyclists to make our Little Streets more welcoming for shoppers.
“This is the first step in a broader program of works to create more space for shoppers, diners and pedestrians, and use art and activities to bring vitality back to our streets and laneways. This will help local businesses operate while accommodating COVID-19 measures.
“We know businesses are doing it tough and we are implementing a range of initiatives to ensure people feel safer in the city and more likely to come in and enjoy what our businesses have to offer.”
To enhance the character of these streets, the shared zone icons painted on the road will feature a variety of figures doing city activities like shopping and working.
Access will be maintained 24-hours a day at low speeds for deliveries and for essential car trips, especially for people with a disability, and for trade, service and emergency services vehicles.
Transport portfolio Chair Councillor Nicolas Frances Gilley said improving pedestrian safety supports Melbourne’s liveability and prosperity.
“We’re increasing space for pedestrians and limiting vehicle speeds in narrow streets to help reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities,” Cr Frances Gilley said.
“This has worked well in Little Collins Street, which for years has been closed to traffic between Swanston and Elizabeth streets at lunchtime to make it safer and more enjoyable for pedestrians.
“The central city has the highest rate of pedestrian road trauma in Victoria with an average of 46 pedestrians seriously injured each year and one pedestrian death.
“In our Transport Strategy, we really set out to make our streets places where people can enjoy the city. Encouraging a slower pace and introducing pedestrian priority zones is a great step towards achieving that.”
Pedestrian road trauma in the central city costs the Victorian community an average of $9.6 million each year.
The new speed limits better reflect current average vehicle speeds of 20 and 30 kilometres per hour and are not expected to impact drivers’ travel time.
The pedestrian priority zones are part of City of Melbourne’s program to fast-track 40 kilometres of new bike lanes and are aligned with the Transport Strategy 2030 and action on climate change.