Changes to line marking - Grafton Street and Lake Street

  • Description: Have your say on changed traffic conditions proposed for Grafton Street and Lake Street.
  • Status: Closed
  • Consultation period: 9:00am 01/03/2017 to 5:00pm 07/04/2017

Changed traffic conditions are proposed for parts of Grafton Street and Lake Street. These changes involve re-line marking the roadway from two traffic lanes to one traffic lane in each direction within:

  • Grafton Street, between Florence Street and Hartley Street, and
  • Lake Street, between Spence Street and Wharf Street.
Have your say about the proposed changes by reading the information below and providing feedback by Friday 7 April 2017 to:

Why have one lane of traffic instead of two?

A safer road network

The main reason for changing a road’s configuration to one lane of traffic is for safety benefits for all road users, resulting in a safer road network and fewer accidents.

One-laning allows the provision of a dedicated bike lane on both sides of the street and a buffer zone adjacent to centre car parking bays. This buffer zone provides motorists the ability to “nudge out” from the centre parking area and have a look at approaching traffic without conflicting with traffic movement within the traffic lane, keeping traffic flow moving. It provides a safer zone for pedestrians waiting to cross the road and allows a better line of sight to see oncoming traffic. There is also less distance for pedestrians crossing over the moving traffic lane. Currently pedestrians walk about 7 metres over two lanes of moving traffic – this could be reduced to one 3.5 metre traffic lane. One lane of traffic also allows for incorporating dedicated pedestrian crossings.

A one-lane configuration also provides improved cyclist safety and has the potential to increase cyclist activity and provide room for more car parking. It also provides more opportunity for future streetscape benefits by providing a greater width for the greening of road centre medians and potential for urban parks.

McLeod Street has a similar traffic volume to Grafton Street and studies have shown a significant improvement to safety with a 40% decrease in accidents since one-laning was introduced. There has been a negligible difference in congestion or delays and a significant increase in cycling activity, with a 300% increase in cyclist activity after just one year of introducing designated cycle lanes. 

No extra delays or congestion

Changing a road’s configuration from two lanes to one lane does not reduce traffic capacity or cause congestion. Capacity is affected more by the number of lanes provided at the intersection approaches, rather than the number of lanes mid-block. Traffic surveys undertaken in streets that are one-lane indicate that there are no significant delays during peak traffic times.

Traffic patterns were measured in Grafton Street in 2013 when it was reduced to one-lane for a water main upgrade, with results showing that congestion was not worsened at all.

Other traffic network improvements have recently been achieved in the CBD, resulting in a re-distribution of traffic. For example, projects like the opening of Lake Street, the connection of Lake Street to Airport Avenue, the introduction of right-turn lanes and u-turns has improved travelling ease around the city, and a new traffic management system has improved traffic signal coordination along our sub-arterial roads.

Where is this road configuration currently used?

A one-lane road configuration style has been used in McLeod Street near Cairns Central Shopping Centre, from Aplin Street to Spence Street, since 2008. This configuration is also used in the majority of Lake Street, with centre parking examples in practice near the Cairns Hospital. A one-lane configuration is also used in:

  • Shields Street, Lake Street to McLeod Street;
  • Hartley Street, Sheridan Street to Lake Street;
  • Wharf Street, Sheridan Street to Abbott Street; and
  • Aplin Street, Abbott Street to Esplanade.

Making changes to road configurations is a gradual process which is carried out as capital works funding is available or when major projects are planned for a particular area which enable the changes to be incorporated.

What would the changes involve?

The changes would be undertaken in two stages.

  1. Existing line marking would be removed and the roadway re-painted as one lane in both directions. Two traffic lanes would be provided prior to the intersections, as there is now. There would be no changes to how the road operates, with current loading bays or taxi zones staying the same. 
  2. Existing kerbside car parking bays would be reconfigured to 90 degree bays to increase car parking in the CBD.

Background - the CBD road hierarchy

In the CBD traffic network, the following roads have been designed to carry significant traffic volume:

  • Sheridan Street and Abbott Street (north / south)
  • Florence Street, Spence Street and Wharf Street (east / west).

These roads are referred to as ‘sub-arterial roads’ and their key function is to move through traffic via two traffic lanes or more, providing access into the CBD. A typical sub-arterial road features two traffic lanes and bicycle lanes in each direction, planted centre medians and parallel parking. Mulgrave Road (under State Government control) is also classified as a sub-arterial road.

Grafton Street and Lake Street are classified as ‘collector roads’. Their function is to provide for parking and safe and convenient access for cyclists and pedestrians as they go about accessing the CBD. They are lower speed, more people-friendly environments with streetscaping and kerbside dining, and they need to operate as “shopping centre carparks”. A typical collector road features single traffic lanes and bicycle lanes in each direction, centre median and kerbside parking, and a wider footpath area. They are not designed for more efficient movement of significant traffic volumes like a sub-arterial road. A sub-arterial is located within one block of each collector street.

The CBD’s road hierarchy model sets out the CBD in a series of maps, showing these street classifications. It forms the basis for many other strategic plans, including being an important element in Council’s planning scheme, CairnsPlan2016. Before the adoption of this model, Cairns did not have a road hierarchy and all roads had a similar cross section and form. Whilst this was sufficient when traffic in the CBD was low, it is inadequate as the CBD has become busier. As Cairns has matured as a city, with increasing numbers of people living in and visiting the CBD, a "hierarchy" of roads is necessary to ensure that the CBD remains accessible, usable and sustainable. Getting people into the CBD and then providing a non-threatening, pedestrian friendly environment is seen as a critical step in re-invigorating the CBD and ensuring that businesses in the CBD are sustainable in the long term in the face of the convenience offered by shopping malls.

Last updated: 07 April 2017