Rather than making roads wider, new research shows that adding more narrower lanes to existing roads would not only aid traffic flow but also promote more motorcycles and scooters.
University of Melbourne professor Chair of Statistics and motorbike rider Prof Richard Huggins says the plan has some merit.
The Grattan Institute suggests narrow lanes would reward motorists in smaller cars and on powered two wheelers and encourage people to ditch big SUVs in the city.
Melbourne City Council’s future transport strategy has picked up on the idea which has been welcomed by the Victorian Motorcycle Council.
Prof Huggins says it would be a good idea “at least in Melbourne”.
“It would make the last bit of people’s commute much easier and safer,” he says.
“We had a very informal chat with City of Melbourne a few years ago about something similar (back then a narrow lane for single track vehicles) but as there were no regulations to cover such a lane it didn’t get to square one.”
Promote small cars and bikes
The Grattan Institute report says Australian cars are getting wider.
In the early 2000s, Aussie motorists started ditching their large sedans for hatchbacks.
However, in the past decade or more, they have swung over to SUVs and pick-ups which are much wider.
The report claims these wide vehicles are causing congestion because they limit visibility and intimidate other drivers.
They say adding a narrow lane would encourage motorists to switch to smaller cars and motorcycles and increase the capacity of roads to carry traffic.
It also doesn’t take into account that riders can lane filter and help ease traffic congestion. Narrower lanes might prevent that.
But there is another result which the safety Nazis will just love.
Narrow lanes would force drivers to be more cautious and slow down.
The Grattan Institute also suggested in 2017 that a congestion tax should be introduced in Sydney and Melbourne during peak hours within five years.
That is another suggestion that Melbourne City Council has embraced. Click here to read more.