Hyperlocal news about Melbourne's first suburb: Fitzroy 3065

drivers can’t see the cyclists for the trees on Gore St


Since 2008 the City of Yarra has been planning to plant trees in the centre of Gore St. Now the tree sites are being installed and, from what I hear, many residents are very unhappy about their placement. I went to look for myself last Saturday and could barely believe how dangerous the situation is.

Placing obstacles in the centre of the street forces drivers to move further to the left to avoid them. In the few minutes I stood there in the rain taking photos I saw several cars driving into the bicycle lane to avoid the obstacles. This is likely to get worse once the trees are planted and grow larger.

The consequence is that cyclists are likely to be injured or killed as drivers use the cycle lanes as part of the road. Should this unfortunately be the case I hope the cyclists affected sue the council for negligence.

When the City of Yarra installed speed bumps on Gipps St in Collingwood a couple of years ago it then had to install barriers alongside them on the boundary of the cycle and car lanes to stop drivers using the cycle lane to drive around the speed bumps. It seems they have not learned anything from that.

I would also not be surprised if some guerrilla resident action resulted in the destruction of these tree sites…


  1. I don’t get it. There’s trees on either side, why the hell do they need them in the middle of the road??

    (I haven’t read the proposal if it’s in there).

  2. those poles next to the speed bumps in abbotsford are a terror to cyclists…dangreous as all hell – i’m sure these will be too.

    a good idea, but sometimes good ideas just don’t work.

  3. Yeh the posts on the side of bikelanes are pretty bad, I’m not sure if I’d prefer to not have them and play dodgems with the cars, or, have it how it is. The problem is when you go past Gipps St and further round past the Salvo’s towards CUB the posts continue on the strip of the bike lane and make no concession for parts of the lane that are not usable, read: unsealed, full of rocks etc. So yes they force cars to take the speed humps but they also force cyclists (when there is a car overtaking) to take dangerous lines that they would no otherwise take. It’s the same round Trenerry crescent. Just short sighted and a waste of money..

  4. They have also narrowed the bike lane by almost a foot. As a daily user of gore street to commute on a bike I am now riding in the traffic lane as the bike lane is too narrow. This is a particular problem at main intersections where cars only give way and do not stop resulting in them driving straight in front of you in the bike lane stopping past the edge of the bike lane. The only answer is to do what has been done on naiper street. Cut the street in half to stop the rat run traffic

  5. Get with the program people. Gore and George Streets are one hundred foot wide, gun-barrel straight rat-runs for selfish pricks in cars who want to avoid the main roads. They’ve become hazardous for pedestrians and cyclists because cars are traveling too fast. The tree squares provide a refuge for pedestrians to stage their crossing, particularly for older and infirm folk – not everyone who walks in Fitzroy are groovy young hipsters, dancing through the traffic in their stovepipe pants. The tree squares will also encourage drivers to slow down, which will also make it safer for cyclists. It’s no big deal for a driver to take their car across the painted line into the bike lane. Bike riders aren’t commonly cleaned up from behind, they are usually struck by cars turning into them, from the left or the right. Slower cars will mean that fewer crashes occur, and that when they do the likelihood and severity of injury for the rider (or pedestrian) is lower. Hopefully, the (obviously) unpleasant motoring experience will discourage drivers form using the streets if they don’t have to. We might even see birds and animals living in the trees as they mature
    By the way, parking between the trees in the middle of the road is illegal and obscures vision and one hopes that the council cracks down on that too – give them more money to make more avenues in other similar streets.
    Lets hope that the councilors have the fortitude to resist the complainers, so that this too doesn’t go arse-up like other outside-the-box initiatives to improve the lot of people living in the inner suburbs,

    • I don’t think the trees will encourage drivers to slow down. Speed bumps are better for that. Having been hit from behind by cars when cycling, you’re wrong about that too.

  6. Agreed – the lane-makers (bollards) in Gipps, Langridge, Victoria and Trenerry are a pain in the bum. Trucks (including the council’s own contractor garbage collectors) regularly roll over them, so they have no reflective qualities and are grimy, so almost invisible at night. The street cleaners can’t seem to clean the bike lanes, or don’t do it often enough and the lane surface – particularly in Gipps Street is broken and lifted around some of the trees. It all looks like the initiative was put in to help bike riders and then forgotten about. A bit of a maintenance program is all they require to get it working properly again. I’ll concede that if into the future yarra council maintains the Gore Street tree squares as poorly as they maintain the lane-makers, they should pull them out now.

  7. Brian (and all), please allow me to retract my statement that bike riders are more likely to be struck from the side, rather than get hit from behind – that is my understanding after 35 years of riding and taking an interest in this subject. The stats tell us that: “Rear end collisions are the most frequent cause of cyclist fatalities,…” ( However, that is not the full story – you and your readers can check the link yourselves.

    I stand by the rest of my post(s).

  8. From your photos I see a large SUV able to pass between the barrier in the centre of the street and the cycle lane with ease. Presumably the trees won’t be as wide as those barriers. Doesn’t seem like much of a problem to me.

  9. ….yes but clearly s a result of bad driving not any trees. Look at the space on the other side of that car.

    • The bad driving in this instance is allowed, even encouraged, by the road design. The driver has instinctively placed their car in the middle of the available space, which is what we are taught to do. Without a barrier between the cycle lane and the main lane, the cycle lane is simply a part of the road.

  10. I agree that the possibility of people driving into the bicycle lane because of the trees is real, but something needed to be done to slow down the traffic. I walk my child to school on George St every day and the speeding drivers along that stretch are dangerous.

    The council went through an extensive process of community consultation on the placement of these trees, and explored a number of other options. As a resident of the immediate area, I can attest to that, so I think your comment that “many residents are unhappy about their placement” probably needs some moderation. You should have a chat to Noel Wootton at the council about community responses to the plans.

    I think the wooden posts are awful and are more of a problem than the trees, but since idiot drivers drove over the tree (repeatedly) at the roundabout near St. Mark’s Church, they are obviously necessary. I just hope they’re temporary and will be removed when the trees have grown.

    • My comment about unhappy residents is based on information I have received from residents. I don’t think the trees will do anything to slow drivers; they just make drivers more dangerous.

  11. We’ll I’m a resident and I’m not unhappy.

  12. Its a failure of a driver to adapt to new road layouts. In itself its kind of understandable. They’ll get used to it when they realize that there is plenty of road for bikes cars and trees.

    • Many drivers don’t care about cyclists and pay no attention to the lines on the road. They pay more attention to the physical borders of the road, not the painted pretend borders. They’ll only stop using the cycle space as road if the road design forces them to.

  13. While there seems to be many arguments on how to control traffic in Fitzroy i have been very impressed by the process that council went thru before making a decesion. This has included consultation with local residents with numerous chances to comment on the process, public meetings and trials of different traffic managment solutions.

  14. Brian I’m not entirely sure. Cycling in Dublin City was always easier in my experience because motorists in the main accept that bicycle users have a right to their part of the road. Aussie drivers don’t, and physical barriers will not change that attitude.
    More bicycle users on the roads condition drivers to take more care of them and start looking out for them a bit more than they are now. Physical segregation, even if were possible does not do this.

    • I think most drivers are lazy, ignorant, stupid and selfish. Their behaviour would be modified more quickly by physical barriers that threaten their cars, such as these tree enclosures, than mobile obstacles like cyclists.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.

You own the copyright of your comment. By submitting your comment you grant this site a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution.