Update: candidate responses currently being added to this page

Bicycle Voting

Victorian Electoral Commission: Yarra City Council, includes voting, enrolment, nomination and important dates information

Please note only three Yarra Councillors are re-standing at this 2020 election, Amanda Stone, Bridgid O’Brien and Stephen Jolly.

2020 candidate scorecard as per responses received by Saturday 10th October 2020

Additional Candidate Surveys

Streets Alive Yarra: Election Scorecard

Yarra Climate Action Now Candidate Survey: Langridge Ward | Melba Ward | Nicholls Ward

Bike Melbourne: Council Elections 2020

Bicycle Network: Victorian Council Elections 2020 – scroll down to Council election candidates – responses

Dear City of Yarra candidate,

You are being contacted about your views on active transport as Yarra has one of the highest levels of walking and cycling in any municipality in Australia.

Yarra Bicycle Users Group is a community organisation which promotes riding for transport and has conducted Yarra Council candidate questionnaires since 2004.

If you can, please respond to this questionnaire by Wednesday 7 October 2020 as postal ballots will be mailed to residents between 6 to 8 October.

Your responses will be published on our website and updated regularly when responses are received. Thank you and good luck!

Alongside our advocacy activities, our weekly radio program has been broadcast from 3CR Community Radio in Fitzroy since 2008, providing support to improve cycling conditions, inclusion and helping to reveal the diversity of bicycle riders, from children to commuters to professionals across many different fields.

In 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic greatly disrupted our community; the use of street space across Melbourne is rapidly changing as people find new ways to travel, work and play.

Active transport modes like walking and cycling are low cost equitable options to private vehicles and public transport. They are an easily accessible solution for those living, working, studying and traveling in our inner suburbs as people may choose to avoid public transport due to physical distancing requirements.

State and national groups are also calling for active transport infrastructure to be improved to enable safe walking and cycling during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond:

Many Yarra residents are under extreme financial pressure and providing safe, connected local active transport options are essential for both Yarra and Melbourne residents, as many travel through our inner suburbs to other areas.

Yarra Council should continue to address the requirements of new and continuing riders as cycling participation has increased during Melbourne’s lock down period since March 2020.

If elected as Yarra councillor for 2020 – 2024:

1.      Will you support Yarra Making Space projects, especially with requests from local businesses for outdoor dining options to assist local economic recovery,

2.      Will you support the 12 month Elizabeth Street protected cycling lane trials in Richmond, as this trial connects with City of Melbourne’s Albert Street protected lanes, created a safe cycling route between Yarra and the CBD,

3.      Advocate to Victorian Government for a similar program for Victorian councils: https://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/projects/popup-covid-19-infrastructure/index.html

4.      Will you support increasing Strategic Transport and Sustainability funding, currently 2% of the budget to 4% to Yarra Councils annual budget by 2024,

5.      Will you assist to reinvigorate Yarra’s long standing Local Area Place Making (LAPM) program to ensure timely progress, improve communication between community consultation, project development and implementation across all LAPM areas,

6.      Support development and implementation of Yarra’s new Integrated Transport Policy,

7.      Continue Yarra Councils strong advocacy for Walmer Street Bridge and Gipps Street Steps projects with Victorian Government.

Nicholls Ward responses

Sophie Wade – Greens: Thanks for your questions, and for conducting this survey. Please see my answers below, in green (they’re all yes – easy things to commit to!)

Bridgid O’Brien – Independent: (Incumbent) No response received so far. Voted unanimously for Elizabeth Street Trials, 3rd December 2019. Voted against Elizabeth Street Trials, 15th September 2020. Previously responded to 2016 YarraBUG candidate questionnaire.

Guy Barker – Reason Party: 1. Absolutely – Speaking specifically to the latter part of the question, having worked in the hospitality industry for many years, it’s something close to my heart. It’s been really heartbreaking seeing so many of my friends and former colleagues in cafes, bars and restaurants struggle through this difficult time. While they’re certainly not the only industry suffering a downturn as a result of COVID, they have been hit particularly hard.

2. Yes, it is vital that council collects important data and evidence that can help support future similar initiatives. It is also important that council shares this data with residents in transparent way, and engages with residents on an ongoing basis. I would also like council to in the near future, explore the viability of creating a cycling superhighway from Hoddle Street to Church Street, where the speed limits are reduced and bikes and cars (and other vehicles such as e-scooters which are fast becoming more popular) share the carriageway, with cars always giving right of way to all other vehicles. Ultimately, this could also evolve into a more pedestrian friendly space as well, with multiple safe crossings linking the green spaces on the north and south sides of Elizabeth St.

3. Yes – I believe the Victorian government already has an Active Transport strategy, but I’m not sure if this has been closely looked at again in the face of the changes brought upon our community by COVID-19

4. Yes, as part of a broader audit into allocation of council funding.

5. Yes 6. Yes. 7. Yes.

Amanda Stone – Greens: (Incumbent) Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your questionnaire. My answer to all questions is YES. The Greens Transport Policy is attached. And I am happy to elaborate further on any aspect of your questionnaire if requested. Thank you for your continued advocacy for active transport: Yarra Greens Transport Policy

Em Sage – Independent: Thanks so much for getting in touch. What a great organisation. I really appreciate your advocacy for community members who wish to travel in a carbon neutral way, or who just enjoy riding their bike (my husband definitely falls into both these categories!) Please find below my response to your survey questions:

1. Yes

2. I believe this trial seriously undermined the community’s trust in Council. Many residents and business owners who live along this route feel they were not consulted prior to the commencement of the trial. We need to earn back this trust by collecting feedback from the community properly. This feedback needs to be collated and published, so everyone can better understand what we all think about the Elizabeth Street Bike Lane Trial. I am not willing to accept the argument that separated bike lanes save lives and forge ahead. I think it’s more nuanced than that.

I think separated bike lanes can actually make car drivers more ambivalent about road safety. We also need to devote resources to road safety awareness campaigns, lighting, signs, traffic signalling, intersection management and off-road bike paths too. I am absolutely committed to a true iterative process and if feedback indicates the protected bike lane has majority community support in its current form then I would allow the trial to continue. Similarly, if majority community feedback indicates street parking is essential at certain points along the route, and they are worth the additional cost, then that’s what I would do.

3. Yes. And I wouldn’t stop there. If I didn’t get traction with Victorian State Ministers and State Government Departments I would also use the Australian Local Government Association to lobby Federal Government and to engage with NSW City Councils directly.

4. Yes.

5. Yes, but with the qualification that it should be implemented along with improved consultation across all issues impacting the community. Outcomes should also be reported back to the community in a timely manner.

6. Big yes!

7. Yes – pending the funding is still available under the new ‘COVID normal’ economy, and that community consultation takes place properly. Thank you so much for the opportunity to comment.

Debra Thorpe – ALP: Dear YarraBUG advocates, supporters and friends,
Yarra Labor is well represented by keen cyclists and Bicycle Network members. We are on the record as supporting a post COVID recovery via temporary changes to outdoor environments after consultation with locals to assess the impact of proposed changes, see our policies here – https://yarralabor.org/
We support trialling new bicycle infrastructure, after consultation with locals, to provide safe spaces for people to travel through Yarra just as we are able to travel through other local government areas. Download Yarra Labor Statement

Langridge Ward responses

Stephen Jolly – Independent: (Incumbent) No response received so far. Voted unanimously for Elizabeth Street Trials, 3rd December 2019. Voted against Elizabeth Street Trials, 15th September 2020. Previously responded to 2004, 2008 and 2016 YarraBUG candidate questionnaires.

Matoc Mordecai Achol – Independent: Thanks for your email with these questions, attached are my responses. Will appreciate your update and let serve our local community together.

1. One of my reasons of running for Yarra City local council, is to support small businesses to recover due to great impact of Covid-19. In fact, I already met with more than 10 business’s owners; who told me about the difficulties they are facing and going through. With this in mind, I’ll be in their support to stand on their feet again & serve their locals.

2. This is one of the difficult project trial, since it was developed when I was not a Councillor and a long with the outcry of Elizabeth residents due to lack of consultation. If elected, the right thing to do, is to have a proper consultation with local residents ( its their right to be consulted, isn’t it! ) and in fact, its human right concern for residents to have voice, let hear from them and also from riders so we can come up with a real solution for all

3. If elected, I’ll be more than happy to advocate to Victorian Government as long as there is proper consultation with locals as this is very significant right to have for better outcomes and future as its essential all levels of Govts to work with their local members.

4. Transport sustainability is very important specially in this century and beyond. What is more, it what’s attract visitors and tourism to our country, state and local council areas. I’ll support the proposed increase of 4% by 2024.

5. I understand Yarra council had studies about LAPM as part of its planning, if elected will make sure these studies are reviewed while listening to locals views and ideas.

6. If elected, I’ll look into what Yarra city done so far and move forward with my support of development and implementation of Yarra’s new Integrated Transport Policy. Its always important to revisit what was done before so to use the scarcity resources well for benefit of locals.

7. Similar to above, will reviewed the projects as I understand there are some concerns about the bridge heritage as it was built in 1882 as strategic connection of Richmond, Abbotsford, Kew communities. what’s more, its essential to have residents views and ideas and will take it from there.

My last point, is let all of us put hands together to better our diverse and vibrant local council by electing your 1st ever African as this will Yarra’s council diversity and inclusion. As the locals like yourselves and others make the history of electing me into the council as the 1st African for the very 1st time, where all other councils will learned from it.

Karen Douglas – ALP: I am a keen cyclist and Bicycle Network member. I am on the record as supporting a post COVID recovery via temporary changes to outdoor environments after consultation with locals to assess the impact of proposed changes.

I support trialling new bicycle infrastructure, after consultation with locals, to provide safe spaces for people to travel through Yarra just as we are able to travel through other local government areas.

Relationships across councils and between all tiers of government are crucial to developing amenity and services that benefit local communities and I will advocate a range of issues to other stakeholders.

The budget process is supported by legislative and policy frameworks and all decisions I make will be made after a thorough assessment of what the community has asked for and what is responsible and fair.

I am on the record as committing to consulting with traditional owners, rate payers, residents, traders, professionals on issues that affect our community and this applies to LAPM programs.

I have committed to delivering active and usable transport routes for our community to not only support healthy living options but to also act positively for our environment.

I support the excellent work local member Richard Wynne MP has undertaken to improve community amenity. I support the re-development of both the Walmer St and Gipps St bridges and I have also committed to finding a solution to the Farm Road link and to addressing the Old Heidelberg Road gate closure.

Peter Hude – Independent: Thanks for your email and for the work you do advocating for cyclists. Please find below my answers to your questions.

1. Absolutely. Building spaces that people want to spend time in will be a key component of rebuilding our sense of community as well as our local economy.

2. I understand that many residents are very passionate about this issue. I recognise the concerns of local residents about safety (due to loss of parking spaces close to their homes). The safety issues in North Richmond do need to be urgently addressed. However, the number of cyclists using that street is increasing and will only continue to rise as the pandemic recovery gets underway. We need to have protected bike lanes on Elizabeth Street because there is no alternative for connecting North Richmond to Albert Street. The road is simply not wide enough to accommodate protected bicycle lanes while retaining all the current parking. Therefore I support the continuation of the trial in its current form, with protected bicycle lanes and reduced parking spaces.

3. I believe that bicycle traffic will have permanently increased due to changes in habits as a result of the pandemic. I can imagine that it will be difficult to encourage commuters to return to public transport, leaving cycling as the only viable sustainable transport option. I support Victoria adopting a similar program.

4. I don’t support a percentage target, however I would like to see active transport options (including footpaths, which are currently represented under Roads Services in the budget) prioritised. Our active transport infrastructure lags behind other councils (especially when compared to the City of Melbourne). I want to see Yarra fund the necessary projects to make active transport a first-class option for our residents.

5. Most definitely. When used effectively this can be a great tool to enable improvements to local areas.

6. I support an Integrated Transport Policy for Yarra that encourages sustainable, active transport.
7. It is inexplicable to me that these upgrades, desperately needed for many years, haven’t happened already. We need to work closely with the other stakeholders (Parks Victoria and potentially Boroondara Council as well) to commence these infrastructure improvements as soon as possible. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any further questions.

Gabrielle de Vietri – Greens: Please find below the answers to your candidate survey. I wasn’t sure if you wanted elaboration on our answers, so I provided some where I thought might be necessary, and others I answered with a simple yes. Thanks for your continuing work and advocacy in this area.

1. Yes! With cycling uptake at an all-time high, and unprecedented congestion slated for the near future as people return to work, Yarra’s Making Space projects are critical to encourage active transport and to help people get around safely. Further, with local traders along our high streets struggling to stay afloat and thousands of people’s jobs hanging in the balance, the Greens candidates for Yarra will roll up their sleeves to help save our high streets. We want to see our streets turned into vibrant pedestrian hubs, with creative interventions, support for localised street festivals and celebrations, activated shop fronts and more greenery and shade from trees.

We will work hard to revitalise our high streets, which includes supporting increased outdoor dining, better biking infrastructure – including pop-up lanes and more bike racks – converting street space to green open space, and measures to activate vacant shop fronts. I support fast-tracking the Council permit process, waiving fees for new footpath trading and continuing “hardship” options for businesses that are struggling with rates at this time. The Yarra Greens transport, COVID recovery, energy and environment policies can be found here: https://greens.org.au/vic/lga/yarra

2. Yes, I support the Elizabeth Street protected cycling lane trial. As our urban density rapidly increases, we need forward-thinking initiatives that encourage our growing population to take up alternatives to private emissions, heavy transport. To do this, we need an integrated network of best-practice, protecting cycling infrastructure, traffic calming measures, and more bike racks, so that everyone can feel confident getting around and parking their bikes.

3. Yes, we need quick action at a state level to support safe movement as we get our high streets, schools and workplaces up and running again. There are arterial roads in Yarra that fall under State jurisdiction that quite simply fail cyclists and pedestrians. I will strongly advocate for urgent attention from the Victorian State Government to implement pop-up active transport initiatives and increase safety and accessibility for cyclists and pedestrians.

4. Yes. 5. Yes.

6. Yes. A priority for me is to make Yarra a place where everyone can walk, ride or wheel to where they need to go, with safe and accessible pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, and an expanded urban forest. I will push for Yarra to develop a bold and future-proof Integrated Transport Plan, and I believe we must actively preempt the increase in private transport uptake when COVID restrictions ease. I support an integrated network of best-practice protected bike lanes, 20-minute neighbourhoods, 30km zones, traffic filtering and calming mechanisms, the allocation of street space for pocket parks and increased bike parking.

7. Yes. I will strongly advocate to the State Government to commit to building a fit-for-purpose bridge at Walmer Street, and to complete the Gipps St ramp project.

Melba Ward responses

Herschel Landes – Independent: I am one of three candidates actively supporting safe bike paths. Yes to all seven commitments.

Mitchell Price: – Independent. I’ve attached my response sent to Bicycle Network. Happy to clarify anything by phone my number is 0478846108. Yes 2. Yes 3. Yes 4. Yes 5. Yes 6. Yes 7. Yes. Download: Bicycle Network Mitch 4 Melba

Sarah Witty – Independent: See my responses in email trail below. 1. Yes 2. Yes 3. Yes 4. Yes 5. Yes 6. Yes 7. Yes

Katarina Radonic – Independent: awaiting response.

Edward Crossland – Greens: Thanks for being in touch and your questionnaire. It’s a yes from me in response to all questions. I’m a town planning, transport and urban design professional, and enhancing our public realm and creating better places for people is a passion area for me.

Sandeep Sarathy – ALP: Dear YarraBUG advocates, supporters and friends,
Yarra Labor is well represented by keen cyclists and Bicycle Network members. We are on the record as supporting a post COVID recovery via temporary changes to outdoor environments after consultation with locals to assess the impact of proposed changes, see our policies here – https://yarralabor.org/
We support trialling new bicycle infrastructure, after consultation with locals, to provide safe spaces for people to travel through Yarra just as we are able to travel through other local government areas. Download Yarra Labor Statement

David Horseman – Independent: Hi and thank you for the opportunity to respond to your questions. My responses are provided below. Please don’t hesitate to contact me for any follow up queries.

1. Yes.

2. Yes, but I would support changes being made to the current trial design that provides protected cycle lanes and addresses the many significant issues raised so far in the trial process, including the need for reinstatement of carparking on the northern side of Elizabeth St. The community has done the heavy lifting in providing a compromise solution. I support those changes as a balanced outcome for the whole community.

3. Yes. 4. Yes. 5. Yes. 6. Yes. 7. Yes.

Don Ash – Independent: As with so many of these sorts of questionnaires that I have received I find that they seem to be deceptively simple to answer e.g. who would not be in favour of every effort being made to ensure pedestrian and cyclist safety especially as they are so much less impactful on our climate crisis. That said the closed nature of the questions seeking a Yes or No answer seem to me to be designed to lock Councillors into a fixed position and lobby groups. The issues in question are far more complex. I am for example in favour of trials such as that raising controversy on Elizabeth street. That said I am primarily in favour of fair process before any trial has commenced and I do not believe that the record of the outgoing Council was one of absolutely following fair process. (And this on all issues not simply cycling).

“Appropriate engagement” with all of the immediately impacted stakeholder groups
“Open explanation” i.e. detailed and clear context and purpose being transparently shared
“Mutual exploration” i.e. joint-problem solving and idea generation by stakeholders especially with opposing views
“Clarified expectations” i.e. the way forward in the short, medium and long-term and again transparency and finally
“A Basis for enthusiasm” being created

By fair process I mean if a trial is commenced without fair process it needs to be re-visited not necessarily with a view to ending it early but as a minimum to redress where a lack of fair process has occurred.

Our mutual friend Val assures me that Yarra has led the way amongst Melbourne’s Councils in promoting cycling and creating safe cycling routes and I am in favour of that continuing but never in a way that does not get stakeholder buy-in and support because the sort of antagonism that is currently being generated does enormous harm to the reputation of the many wonderful cyclists out there. And that cannot be a good thing.

I apologise if this is less than helpful but as with many of these questionnaires I can only share my overall sentiment and cannot be locked into a Yes or No.