Nov 4, 2020, 13:00 PM
The palpable buzz across the city centre this past week has shown the enthusiasm and optimism of Melburnians emerging from 15 weeks of lockdown. And Citywide has been on the front foot, making sure residents visiting the CBD for a long-overdue meal or shopping trip do not jeopardise their safety.
In the spirit of adaptation born from the Covid pandemic, the City of Melbourne has introduced new ‘shared zones’ on its busy Little Streets – Flinders Lane and Little Collins, Bourke and Lonsdale – which give pedestrians the right of way over traffic, and help them keep apart on the 2m-wide footpaths. The streets have also seen their speed limit dropped from 40km/h to 20km/h.
Since early September, Citywide Engineer Kiran Singh and Works Officer Lou Munforte have overseen the installation of 143 plastic speed bumps along the Little Streets, as well as 30 tree-filled planter boxes to prevent motorists driving around them. A further 100 three-ton ‘planters’ will be added to other pedestrian areas in and around the CBD from early November.
“It’s a delicate balancing act, keeping people apart from cars and from each other,” explains Kiran Singh. “Even in pre-Covid times there was often not enough space on the city’s footpaths, so it’s going to be a continuing challenge giving people enough space to stay safe.”
Dining at a distance
The project is also erecting concrete barriers and planter boxes in several outdoor dining areas across the CBD, North Melbourne, Carlton and South Yarra, in order to help restaurants and cafés provide at least 2 square metres to each of their outdoor diners.
“The planters are incredibly heavy and require a special forklift to put in place, so it’s slow, labour-intensive work,” says Singh. “But they also look very beautiful once they’ve been planted, so we’re confident that both diners and restaurant owners should be pretty pleased.”
As well as providing planning support, procurement and the supervision of third-party contractors, Citywide’s engineers are liaising with traffic management, construction crews and other sectors involved in the management of some of our busiest streets.
Keeping cyclists safe
Alongside the pedestrian safety work, Citywide has been busy installing temporary bike lanes along 42km of roads leading into the city centre, including William, Faraday, Drummond, Rathdowne and Abbotsford streets.
The six-strong crew is also marking out a series of ‘bike head-starts’ where these roads meet major intersections – enabling riders to maintain a safe distance from cars and safely move off ahead of the traffic.
In keeping with their eco-conscious nature, the ‘Copenhagen lanes’ – named after the famously bike-friendly Danish city – are lined with concrete barriers made with a high volume of crushed recycled glass, which is used as a substitute for sand in the manufacturing process.
Matt Williams, who manages Citywide’s Inner Melbourne contracts, says he is very proud of how efficiently his teams have responded to an urgent set of demands involving unique products, materials and operating environments.
“Our experienced engineers, project managers and field crews have done an incredible job in a very short period of time to make our city safe again for everyone,” he says.
The pedestrian and cycling projects have been funded by the Victorian Government as part of long-term plans to ease congestion across central Melbourne through the installation of street furniture, planter boxes, trees and speed signage. The shared zones and new speed limits are part of an 18-month trial that will evaluate the impact of these changes before making them permanent.
Simon Mossman - Group Corporate Communications
M 0427 307 216