ADJOURNMENT MATTER — Dr Read to ask the Minister for Roads and Road Safety —
My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Roads and Road Safety and Minister for Public Transport, and the action I seek is for Sydney Road to urgently be rebuilt and revitalised to attract more shoppers and walkers and to make it safer for bike riders as restrictions are eased. Many shops in our retail high streets are closed, some for good, as the pandemic has shut down so many of our shared spaces. Sydney Road is Melbourne's longest shopping strip, with pubs dating from the gold rush, when it was called Pentridge Road. Before the coronavirus pandemic it was choked by cars, with narrow, congested footpaths, putting pedestrians close to the noise and pollution of the traffic. The pandemic, though, has induced more of us to walk and ride bikes to get around our neighbourhoods. Bike shops are busier than ever, but riders are forced into a hazardous, unofficial half-lane between parked cars on one side and moving cars on the other, making Sydney Road an obstacle course and a regular source of accidents.
For many years local residents and politicians have called for changes to revitalise this popular symbol of Brunswick to make it more attractive for walkers and shoppers and safer for riders. The people of Brunswick are waiting for action, and this extraordinary year we need it for more reasons than ever. Last year's extensive VicRoads survey showed strong majority support for protected bike lanes and wider footpaths. Brunswick was already the top cycling postcode in Australia, and this has only increased due to the pandemic. And with restaurateurs now calling for more shared dining space on the footpath to open up there are more and more reasons that we did not anticipate at the start of the year, and so it has become urgent.
Sydney Road, I appreciate, is narrow, and it is hard to accommodate the competing needs of cars, cafes, trams and active transport-walking and riding. But these challenges do not reduce the longstanding need to revitalise Sydney Road, and now Sydney Road needs resuscitation. I believe the minister takes these issues seriously, and I urge prompt action.