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Vic Roads to trial new bike lane markings in Melbourne to reduce car doorings

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New bike lane markings to be tested on Glenferrie Street, Melbourne. Cycle Traveller

Vic Roads will test a new bicycle lane marking approach in Melbourne in a bid to reduce incidents of drivers car-dooring cyclists when exiting their vehicles.

Roads Minister Terry Mulder said the new markings would run down a 900 metre stretch of Glenferrie Road between Bakers and Burwood roads, a section that has a history of collisions involving cyclists, The Age newspaper reported. The works will cost $431,000 and involve rearranging the existing markings. The works, which will take place between January and April 2014, do not involve changes to the width of the road.

''This innovative pavement marking gives cyclists greater protection from both parked and moving vehicles,” Mr Mulder told the newspaper.

Essentially, the existing 1.5-metre wide bike lane does not change in size, but cyclists are directed to ride in a 60cm 'safe' zone closest to the right traffic lane used by trams and other road vehicles. To encourage drivers not to drive too close to the bike lane, a white chevron marking will run the length of the left edge of the traffic lane.

While the trial aims to improve conditions for cyclists on the road, it still raises some safety concerns. For instance, cyclists will be encouraged to ride closer to trams, which run right to the edge of the bike lane, meaning riders within the 60cm 'safe' zone will be almost bumping up along the edges of moving trams on route 16.

This concern was enough for Stonnington City Council to reject initial plans to trial the markings down Chapel Street, Prahran, which the newspaper said is one of the worst areas for car doorings.

Garry Brennan of Bicycle Network Victoria raised some other concerns about the trial with The Age. He said the experiment had the potential to cause confusion, with drivers potentially assuming that cyclists must stay within the 60cm safe zone, leading some to be less cautious when opening doors.

At the very least, the addition of the white chevron line should help to keep cars away from the bike lane. However, only time will tell if this approach, which basically just encourages cyclists to keep to a narrower section of road, will reduce car doorings on busy streets.

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