Greens councillors have thwarted plans to build more accessible tram stops in Melbourne's inner-north in their push for a dedicated cycling lane.
Six accessible "super" tram stops along Nicholson Street in Fitzroy and Brunswick East were approved by the Andrews government earlier this year as part of a $19 million upgrade.
But three of the stops in Brunswick East were opposed by Moreland Council in August, delivering a blow to commuters using wheelchairs or pushing prams.
Greens councillor Dale Martin moved to halt the upgrade of stops near the intersections of Miller, Glenlyon and Kirkdale streets because they did not include space for a dedicated cycling lane.
The resolution was seconded by Greens councillor Jess Dorney and received majority support.
"We must do everything we can to protect the safety of the huge volume of cyclists that we have in our city," Cr Martin told the council, which must approve the stops due to the proposed removal of parking.
This would have forced Public Transport Victoria to redesign the stops and submit them to the council again, but the government agency is instead applying to appeal the decision at VCAT.
Commuters are currently facing lengthy delays as work gets under way to build three super stops in along Nicholson Street in Fitzroy.
The road is closed between Victoria Parade and Alexandra Parade for two weeks, with buses replacing sections of the 96 and 86 tram routes.
All six stops were supposed to be built at the same time to reduce commuter pain, but the road is likely to close yet again in a few months' time, when the remaining tram stop upgrades are eventually approved.
This means that people with impaired mobility will have to wait even longer to use the tram network, said wheelchair user and disability advocate Brian Caccianiga.
"It’s already been a long wait and is now turning into a longer wait over an issue that could have been discussed, not blocked," Mr Caccianiga said.
"I think there could have been a better solution to that scenario rather than say 'no'."
By law, 90 per cent of Melbourne’s tram stops were supposed to be wheelchair accessible by the end of 2017.
But only one quarter of Melbourne's 1700 tram stops meet the target.
While successive governments have been slow to commit funding the new stops, local disputes over the loss of parking and provision for cycling space has slowed down their delivery.
Such was the fate of a government-approved accessible tram terminus on Melville Road, Pascoe Vale South.
Locals were concerned about a proposed redesign of the terminus due to a loss of parking, and a plan to shorten the line by moving the stop further south on Melville Road.
The terminus was unanimously blocked by council at the same August meeting, due to a lack of cycling space, poor connectivity with nearby buses, and fears that its location would prevent the tram line from extending north.
Public Transport Victoria is appealing this decision at VCAT too.
Chief executive Jeroen Weimar said the process would cause delays in building the new stops.
"Disappointingly, the local council decided not to grant planning permission for the stops in the Moreland area," he said.
“Route 96 is Melbourne’s busiest tram route, and these latest upgrades will make it safer and more accessible for thousands of passengers every day.”
An article and headline loaded with anti cyclist bias.
The headline could just have easily been:
"Greens councillors favour cyclists and accessible tram 'super stops' in Melbourne's north over parking for motorists."
The problem is vexed. Making trams readily accessible to wheelchairs and other mobility impair users is a big challenge. IMO there are better ways to spend money to improve the lives of those less mobile. At the very least it shouldn't be done at the great expense of safety of others. The thing is there is a legal obligation to make the trams accessible. There is no legal obligation to protect the lives of cyclists....
For those who aren't well informed on Melbourne and trams... There are decent solutions that provide accessibility and safety for cyclists. But they normally involve loss of parking or clearways for motorists.....