Tuesday, 7 March 2023


Bell Street, Coburg, pedestrian safety


Bell Street, Coburg, pedestrian safety

Anthony CIANFLONE (Pascoe Vale) (19:26): (78) My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Roads and Road Safety. The action I seek is that the minister provide the latest update on the steps the Andrews Labor government is taking to evaluate pedestrian and motorist safety along the Bell Street bridge, which intersects with the Pascoe Vale, Northcote and Preston electorates. As I stated in my first speech, with so many young families as well as elderly residents now living across Pascoe Vale, Coburg and Brunswick West, improving safety across our transport network will remain an ongoing priority of mine. In this respect, working to make the Bell Street corridor safer will be critical.

As many of us know, the Bell Street corridor is a major east-west arterial road connecting the inner northern suburbs with the Tullamarine Freeway and the Eastern Freeway. Slicing through the centre of my electorate, Bell Street experiences up to 47,000 vehicle movements per day and is one of the busiest arterials in the state’s road network. That is why the Victorian Labor government has been taking real action to improve safety along the Bell Street corridor, including through the removal of dangerous level crossings at Bell Street, Coburg and Bell Street, Preston. However, in the short to medium term ongoing opportunities also exist for us to continue making the commuter experience along Bell Street even more safe.

One of the key priorities includes the Bell Street bridge in Coburg, which facilitates east-west commuting over the Merri Creek and enables north-south travel between Elizabeth Street and Nicholson Street. The bridge itself provides for six lanes of east-west traffic, connects the Merri-bek and Darebin communities, connects locals to tram route terminus 1 on Nicholson Street and supports locals to access De Chene Reserve in Coburg. However, from the moment I was preselected as the Labor candidate last year residents have been sharing their concerns with me around safety along the bridge. Whether it be concerns around the narrow footpaths on either side of the bridge, the setback between the footpaths and traffic lanes, the mountable kerbsides or the left-turn slip lanes connecting Bell Street to Nicholson Street or to Elizabeth Street, residents have continued to raise concerns with me.

In response I was pleased to have worked with Labor colleagues, including the member for Northcote, to help support a range of safety improvements along the bridge, which have included reducing speed limits from 70 kilometres down to 60 kilometres and signage and pavement marking improvements, including dragon’s teeth markings, slowdown markings and pedestrian warning signs on the approach to the bridge. However, with the one-year anniversary approaching of the introduction of many of these measures, I believe it would be opportune for the department to review and evaluate the effectiveness of the safety measures to better understand the risk profile of the area and to hear directly from my community about their experiences. In this regard I particularly acknowledge the work of the Safe Access over Bell Street Bridge for Everyone group, SABBE, including conveners Deb Wyatt, Lanie Stockman and Jose Villadangos, who I have had the pleasure of meeting with on several occasions.

I would also like to acknowledge the advocacy of Coburg High School students. More than a thousand pedestrians cross Bell Street bridge from Monday to Friday, with 79 per cent of Coburg High students having utilised Bell Street bridge and 30 per cent of students relying on it at least once a week. Of these students, 32 per cent have witnessed at least one accident or a near miss in the past year alone.

I look forward to receiving the minister’s response and sharing it with the SABBE group, the Coburg High School students and the member for Northcote, who I look forward to continuing to work with in regard to this issue.