At the Council Meeting on 12th Feb, Eddy Kontelj and Anthony Aitken raised some urgent business about traffic issues in Malop St as a consequence of the "Green Spine" project. At the same meeting the Council was presented with a report by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. They disagreed with one particular recommendation which stated that the Little Malop St Mall was low priority.
The points were quickly picked up and sensationally reported by both the Addy and the Indy.
With respect to the Mall - yes it should be high priority. If only because there is a lot of public sentiment, on both sides, about its use and usefulness.
But with the Green Spine: wasn't a reduction in through traffic a key goal? Along with reducing speeds to 40kph throughout the CBD, the recent Parking Strategy and constantly shifting truck routes, the Council, in one form or another, has been trying to make it more and more difficult to drive through town.
Our opinion is that reducing through traffic is a good thing but traffic to the CBD needs to be encouraged. Cars and trucks that are just trying to get to the other side need to have alternate routes. As I understand the current intent is for Ryrie St to be that path, although Fyans would be best for anything of significant size. Making it difficult to use Malop St is one way to reduce unnecessary traffic.
But it is only one part of a larger plan. We still want people to enter the CBD, and if we deter cars there needs to be other ways. Public transport needs to be upgraded, walking and cycling encouraged and parking - which encourages people to stay rather than drive through - needs to be seriously considered.
Yes, cars are essential, but many major cities have limits on traffic through the centre. Melbourne has its two major roads effectively closed to public vehicles and almost all east-west traffic is tightly constricted. That has not caused big issues with public access because there are other ways to get there.
If Geelong is serious about re-vitalising the CBD then double down on what is needed. Turn Moorabool St into a proper bus port - no cars at all, buses only. Connect up the bike paths instead of having short pieces scattered around town. Have plenty of parking just outside with safe and clear paths in and out. For traffic that does come in, make it easy to turn off the major roads with direction to where to park.
Many people will not like it, but if that is the Council's intention then they should commit. Else don't. Half heartedly trying to satisfy everyone is not going to work.