There is a difference between the road and the street. A road is designed for cars. The street is a complex environment designed for people and may include a road. The street includes many other features including verge, median strip, footpaths, bike paths, seats, outdoor dining, gardens, and more. Streets can include longitudinal parks and playgrounds. Most people will not cycle on road. New Space For Living – Quality Of Public Space looks at the urban forms found in The Netherlands and considers what could be done with this public space.
Canberra is compartmentalised with different parts specialised, providing goods and services found nowhere else. We live in Gungahlin, work in Tuggeranong, buy furniture in Fyshwick and school our kids in Red Hill. Vast distances are travelled for things we could do locally. The 20-minute city is where we have all this at our doorstep. Fewer mega-stores, mega-schools, and mega-department-buildings, for a more decentralised approach. Think local.
The National Capital Design Review Panel confirmed that greater density increases the adoption of active travel. Grattan Institute reports the density is the best way to improving housing affordability. Due to Canberra’s many nature reserves, Lake Burley Griffin, Parliamentary Triangle, Canberra Airport, and Majura Military Training Area, this area is smaller than one would think. Only east Belconnen, south Gungahlin, north Woden, east Molonglo are close enough. The current population in that area is only 144,000 people.
Increasing urban density not only increases the transport mode share of active travel but is makes housing more affordable too. Of all the things that the Governments could consider, “boosting density in inner and middle suburbs” has the most positive and greatest impact on housing affordability.
Braddon Streetscape Upgrade project excluded cycling. Haig Park Footpath and Lighting project lacks cycle infrastructure too. Upgrades to Northbourne Avenue last year were bicycle free. End of journey facilities Draft Variation No 357 went missing since 2019. The City And Gateway Urban Design Framework (December 2018) was filled away and forgotten. Cycling is the Cinderella of transport – we are still waiting for the Fairy Godmother. We were pleased to finally see some progress for cycling with today’s tender 30864-RFT-001 Garden City Cycle Route Project Brief Design.
What are the effects and impacts of our increasing population on traffic congestion in our beautiful city? In Canberra, over 80% of the working population drive to work. That percentage is higher than in any other city in Australia! Assuming this bad habit remains, our continued car culture will heavily impact on already heavy rush hour traffic. A circular city modelled gives us some insight into Canberra’s future.
Victor Gruen as architecture and urban planner living in postwar America and dedicated his life to making cities more liveable that have “been invaded by a metal hoards”. He concludes, “planning for the renewal of our languishing cities must emanate from the realisation that cities are for people and not vice versa, and that therefore, technology has to serve people and the city and can never be allowed to tyrannised settlements. Cities that enslave and degrade humanity are not cities.”
When we walk the halls of Planning, Transport and Legislative Assembly in the ACT today, we can be sure that none of those people we see will be there in 30 years. Community groups and councils lobby with MLAs and mandarins, who temporarily fill the roles. Building a cycle network is a long term task, requiring forward-thinking past the current political cycle. The cycle network will take 30 years to build. In that time, Canberra’s population will almost double. City builders think in decades and not years. Cycle corridors reserve the space to build that cycle network.
Cities are the one of the greatest of human inventions. Urban planning is dedicated to thinking about what our cities should be and how we should build them. Urban planning is dedicated to understanding how we build them. Canberra is a young city. After 50 years, even the best suburb or town centre will become tattered. The concrete will have become cracked and town centres wrinkled. It is time to consider what comes next. This is urban renewal.
As attractive as it may be to build on a greenfield, the future of the ACT is urban renewal – taking the old and turning it into something new. In this context, we expect to hear a lot more from RobertsDay, a leading Australian urban planning firm that has penned many of Canberra’s future urban areas, including Ginninderry, Molonglo Stage 3 Project Design Brief, and the little known village in Red Hill.