A key part of Mornington’s busy Main St has been closed today to cars and opened up to pedestrians as part of moves to rejuvenate the hospitality industry. A map released by Mornington Peninsula Shire Council indicated Main St has been closed between Barkly St and The Esplanade.
Other Peninsula townships are expected to undergo similar changes to enable expanded outdoor dining in line with the State Government’s COVID-safe practices. In a statement on Twitter, the council said it had instigated the changes today to “help local shops, cafes and restaurants stay viable and the public stay safe under the State Government COVID-safe regulations”.
A 20km/h zone has been introduced on Main St between Barkly St and the Eastern Ring Rd. This area will also feature parklets designed for outdoor seating with a soft barrier. “Traffic is being diverted around the ring roads to the carparks either side of Main St with disabled parking and bus stops relocated to the closest suitable locations,” the council said. “The map shows the new location of disabled parking and bus stops, as well as loading zones and the taxi zone.” The map indicates Main St bus stops have been moved to Vancouver St.
Some were unimpressed, with ARMO responding on Twitter: “That’s one way to make sure only those who live within walking distance go. I guess those who drive to Mornington will just go elsewhere. As if the traffic wasn’t bad enough already.”
But the council backed its decision, saying: “There will be fewer carparks, but we think it’s worth it to support our local businesses get back on their feet after COVID. We hope you can enjoy the summer on foot or by car. Thanks to our local businesses for their hard work this year. We can’t wait to enjoy the new outdoor dining all summer long.”
In another statement on Facebook, the council said: “Key commercial areas in other townships will also undergo changes to enable more open-air trading, with traffic speeds slowed and some on-street parking repurposed for outdoor dining.”
Susan Kerr commented: “About time. Rye needs change. Stop speeding cars roaring through the shopping area. Extend the pavement so it’s one lane each way or even more radical shut part of the road to traffic into pedestrian zone and have traffic diversion behind the shops.” Anita Bee added: “Great idea! A small inconvenience to support business recovery.”
The council said it had worked closely with businesses and community groups to develop its plan.