Mike Stevens | Jul 23, 2010

The Albert Street bicycle lanes, Melbourne's new $340,000 cyclist-friendly experiment, have come under fire from insurer RACV this week.

Describing the new lanes as "politically-correct transport policy gone mad," RACV General Manager for Public Policy, Brian Negus, said that while improving cyclist safety must be a priority, the Albert Street bicycle lanes are ill-conceived and confusing.

“The new lane is confusing to motorists and cyclists and it is obvious the council has not thought through the implications of such a scheme,” Mr Negus said.

“We are all in favour of cycling in the city, as highlighted by our implementation with the Victorian Government of Melbourne’s Bike Share scheme.”

Inspired by the bicycle lanes that are spread all over Denmark's capital, Copenhagen, Albert Street's new cycling lanes run alongside the kerb, with a car-parking lane acting as a buffer between cyclists and traffic during off-peak times.

In morning and afternoon peak times, the road converts back to two lanes of traffic.

Mr Negus said the Melbourne City Council should put in a new kerb, or relocate the bike lane to ensure there is a defined area where cyclists can safely ride their bikes - along with a defined area to ensure motorists know where they can park safely.

While acknowleding the effect on traffic in off-peak times, Bicycle Victoria boss Harry Barber is largely supportive of the project.

"The number of riders on Swanston St in the Melbourne CBD has been rising steadily and this project will add to the route's popularity," Mr Barber said.

In Copenhagen, the introduction of the special cyclist lanes 10 years ago have seen bicycle trips increase by 30 percent.

"This suggests it is realistic to see the Melbourne's bike riding go up by a similar amount," Mr Barber said.

"Many people have a bike and are motivated to use it for exercise, speed, convenience and these days to dodge the rising cost of fuel."

Mr Negus is far less enthusiastic for the project however.

“The $340,000 cycle lane has been a massive waste of money, given the outcome has caused so many problems for motorists and cyclists. It has also drawn criticism from businesses located along Albert Street,” He said.

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