Why Walkable Streets are More Economically Productive
What is the value of a street where people can walk safely?
Why build streets that are constructed with the needs of people in mind, not just the needs of cars?
Many people concerned with pedestrian safety and “walkability” care about these issues because they feel that walking is good exercise or that walkable places are more attractive or that walking is better for the environment than driving.
These are all valid arguments and may convince some of those reading this article that walkability is important. But what I want to talk about today isn’t an argument based on values or aesthetics. It’s an argument based on pure dollars and cents — one that should convince people with a myriad of values and political leanings that people-oriented places must be a priority if we want our communities to be economically prosperous.
Again and again, when we look at streets oriented toward people — that is, streets where walking is safe and enjoyable, that people are drawn to visit on foot, and where fast and extensive car traffic is not the #1 priority — we find that they are more economically productive than any other style of development. This is particularly true when we compare people-oriented places to car-oriented places—think of that stretch of your town that effectively does everything possible to discourage walking and biking, including a street with multiple wide lanes to ensure fast car movement, acres of parking, and minimal (if any) sidewalks, bike lanes and crosswalks.
Walkable streets, on the other hand, encourage business activity, generate greater tax revenue per acre and offer a higher return on investment than auto-oriented streets.
People-oriented Streets Encourage Business Activity
Streets where walking is safe and easy are streets where businesses usually thrive…Read the full article at Strong Towns. website
London research confirms the benefits for traders.
New research from Transport for London (TfL) claims that people walking, cycling and using public transport spend more than motorists in local shops. Conducted by Matthew Carmona from University College London’s Bartlett School of Planning, the research reveals that those not in cars spend 40% more each month in neighborhood shops than motorists. The research was conducted in areas of London which have benefitted from Dutch-style streetscape improvements, such as the addition of cycleways. Transport for London’s “Healthy Streets Approach” designs streets for people that are easy to access by foot or bike… (read full article from Forbes)
Australia’s Heart Foundation agrees too. Check out the article in our last newsletter…its Good for Business
One, two … or more wheels?
Building Strong Communities -1.
Bringing the community into local government: 4 things learnt from an expert citizen “hack”
Replace expensive community consultation with methods that bring citizen experts into problem-solving. This was tried it out in an inaugural, and highly engaging, “Arts Hack”. Four things were learnt.
1. THE FIRST RULE OF “ARTS HACK”
The first thing was the importance of putting real problems on the table. For the Arts Hack this was how we could re-vision a large and underutilized theatre and community facility… (See full article)
2. UTILISE CITIZEN EXPERTS
The second thing we learned is that engagement methods that mobilise citizen experts work. There is a layer of people in our communities that want to be more active with their governments… (See full article)
3. GET OUT OF TOWN (HALL)
What worked for Arts Hack was getting out of a bureaucratic setting, and using people’s time in a short, sharp hack (rather than committee meeting, hearing or all day forum)… (See full article)
4. IDEAS INSPIRE CHANGE FOR OUR COMMUNITY
The final thing we learned was this facility could contribute enormously to community life if we think long term. To make it its best, citizen experts argued it needs an artistic vision… (See full article)
Building Strong Communities – 2.
Declining trust in government: 4 things councils should do right now
Trust in government is collapsing. A drop from from 45% to 37% last year, reflects our doubt in governments’ capacity to deal with the biggest challenges we face, such as climate change and inequality. It also demonstrates we are experiencing politics as something external to us, increasingly handed down by establishment elites from above.
What can councils do become trusted institutions in their communities?
1. SUPPORT PARTICIPATORY (COLLABORATIVE) NETWORKS
The first thing is to actively support the “thick” participatory collaborative networks that are emerging in our communities. On the edges of our market economy, harnessing the distributive nature of technology, people in communities are mobilising to solve our biggest challenges. They are creating community renewable energy, freelancer and tradie worker cooperatives, farmers markets, free universities, co-working spaces, collective wineries, open source software, technology and makers spaces … (read the full article here)
One in five Australian drivers admits to cyclist road rage…
Who can be seen by whom?
Heavy vehicle and truck blind spots block out a lot more of the road than people who ride bikes realise. Sharing the road with trucks is an everyday experience in Melbourne. From arterial roads to residential streets, you can expect to find trucks or heavy vehicles or nearly any road in Victoria. Because of their size and width, trucks have blind spots in front, on the sides and behind them. The drivers of heavy vehicles are professionals and are adept at piloting their huge transporters in traffic and through intersections. However, it’s important for people who ride bikes to remember that for all their driving prowess, drivers of heavy vehicles simply cannot see what their mirrors don’t show them. Large vehicles, such as trucks, tourist coaches and buses, are a challenge for people who ride bikes because they take up so much room on the road. Specifically, large vehicles occupy the space that bike riders are generally accustomed to having available to pass on the left-hand side when there isn’t a bike lane. However, when sharing the road with larger vehicles, the left side is a highly risky place to be. Check this excellent Bicycle Network information about “Swapping Seats” with the truck or bus driver.
Whitehorse Council rejects VicRoads’ southern route plans for bike and pedestrian path
WHITEHORSE Council has denied VicRoads permission to take over a picturesque pathway in Blackburn for a multi-million dollar bike path.
As work on the road rail separation gets underway, the council has again sided with hundreds of people who are objecting to a southern alignment for the Laburnum and Blackburn section of the Box Hill to Ringwood Bicycle Path, also known as the shared use path.
The council has agreed in principal to VicRoads’ proposed route for the overall path, for which the State Government allocated $14.5 million in the 2015-16 budget, but has knocked back its plans for the most contentious section through Blackburn.
Cr Denise Massoud said VicRoads needed to keep its hands off Elmore Walk, a gravel walking path through a quiet and well-vegetated part of Blackburn.
Cr Massoud said VicRoads needed to pursue an alignment on the north side of the railway line. “VicRoads is clearly shying away from spending the money that’s needed to do this properly,” Cr Massoud said.
A petition presented to the council included 430 signatures from people demanding a northern alignment.
Cr Ben Stennett said the southern alignment would create more safety issues between cyclists and pedestrians accessing trains and buses at Blackburn station.
“The community’s catchcry of ‘northern or none’ really resonates,” Cr Stennett said. “The northern alignment makes a lot of sense, the southern alignment makes very little sense. “What price is there on common sense, on safety?”Two years and eight months have passed and NOTHING HAS CHANGED! Vic Roads promised further community consultation, it didn’t happen. VicRoads promised full consultation with Whitehorse Council, but WATAG believes that any consultation has been, at best, simply a restatement of what VicRoads wants rather than a full examination of all options to meet Council’s and the community’s needs In the two years since the grade separation at Blackburn Station/Blackburn Rd was essentially finished, and the shared path to Nunawading and further east to Ringwood was initially laid, the community is still waiting for shared path to be finished. WATAG understands that the link between Box Hill and Middleborough Rd is apparently now being planned, and a vastly improved crossing over Springvale Rd is also apparently being planned. Works between Mitcham and Ringwood have now been virtually finished. What’s missing is the link between Middleborough Rd and Blackburn Station. When the report above was published, a VicRoads spokesman said “there were several reasons why VicRoads considered the southern alignment to be the safer option, which included the likely increase in pedestrian traffic on the north side in the future, a wider footprint than the north side, and loss of carpark spaces with a northern route.” Well, he was correct about likely increased pedestrian traffic on the north side of the railway line. Major unit developments on the north side midway between Laburnum and Blackburn Stations, will mean that there will be a lot more people wanting to access these stations.
Current status of a metre matters around Australia
Bicycle Network reports that the ACT government has decided to keep minimum passing distance laws, following a report that found the number of crashes has reduced during the three-year trial period. Road Safety Minister Shane Rattenbury is expected to announce on Thursday that the territory will permanently adopt the road rules which requires drivers to stay one metre clear of bike riders when overtaking them in speed zones of 60km/h or less, and 1.5m in speed zones greater than 60km/h. Read the full report here. Bicycle Network also advocates strongly for Victoria to introduce a minumum passing distance law.
Bicycle helmets – a fierce argument
Bicycle Network recently released its review of its policy on Mandatory Bicycle Helmets.
- Legislation in different countries
- Effects of legislation on cycling exposure
- Risk compensation
It’s a very interesting report and worth reading the executive summary at least Instead of arguing about helmets, WATAG believes that all that negative energy should be put to positive use. If everyone concentrated on matters which will have the maximum effect on getting people to use Active Transport options instead of a car – cycling participation rates would dramatically increase.
- Town planning of places like Box Hill, Blackburn, Nunawading to meet the “street level” Active Transport needs of future generations (irrespective of ultimate building height)
- Speed reduction of cars in all suburban streets to 40kph or preferably 30kph together with corresponding traffic calming measures to help enforce that, so that people can take back the streets from cars.
- Identification and introduction of quiet-street bike routes to connect destinations, and the provision of infrastructure changes to make them both BE safer and FEEL safer
- On-road bike lanes to be totally contiguous at all intersections, and clearly identified.
- Introduction of user-pays on-street parking indents (into the nature strip) for residents on busier roads who want on-street-parking where there are bike lanes. Then totally prohibit parking in a bike lane – anywhere.
- Driver education to reduce the anti-cycling attitudes noted earlier in this newsletter.
These are the conditions prevalent in places like the Netherlands, which we have highlighted in earlier newsletters – places where cycling conditions are so much safer that wearing a helmet can indeed be mandatory. Lets get the conditions right, then talk about helmets!
It was previously noted that “What promised to be a collaborative community consultation is steadily proving to be just another PR job (more cleverly executed than other recent examples)…” Fortunately NELA appears to have broken that mould and the final session of the NEL Community Technical Discussion Group (CTDG) – walking & cycling, held early November 2018, was the most positive of all. WATAG was well represented and had a big impact on discussions. Other groups represented included Boroondara BUG, Manningham BUG and the Institute of Traffic Engineers Australia and New Zealand (ITE-ANZ). It is important to note that the CTDG members were NOT party to discussions about whether the North East Link (Option A) – and its effect on the Eastern Freeway – is in fact a project that is in the best interests of the community or not. Discussion has totally been about the Active Transport impacts if Option A goes ahead. ITE-ANZ President reported in their latest newsletter.
I have been attending Community Technical Discussion Group meetings for the North East Link project on behalf of ITE-ANZ. Our purpose is to advocate for better facilities for active transport modes. To illustrate: if a person living in Greensborough works in North Balwyn and they would like to cycle to work rather than take their car then they should be encouraged to do so. The level of service provided to active transport modes should be equal to that provided to motorised modes. In other words, the bicycle path should be direct, have low grades and be free of traffic lights. Unfortunately, we were advised that the concept design which is currently proposed to be put to bidders does not have such a requirement and is locked in and can’t be changed. The Community Technical Discussion Group members were very unhappy with this advice and with the low level of provision for cycling. After some vigorous discussion at the meeting a couple of members resigned because they felt they were wasting their time. At the latest meeting, the Project has now had a change of mind and agreed to prepare a report including all of the Community Technical Discussion Group’s proposals. This report would be provided to the bidders to inform them of community expectations. This is a big change of approach by Project staff. I complement them for listening and now taking an innovative approach to community consultation. Let’s hope that the NEL will set a new level of provision for active transport and becomes a model for future projects.
WATAG totally agrees. The aim should be for AAA (All Ages and Ability) Active Transport infrastructure to match the top grade standard of service that will be provided for cars and trucks. And the development of “Expert citizen” engagement such as this, (as noted in the article above on Building Strong Communities), bodes well for the future.
Snap Send Solve
The Holiday Season is just around the corner, so right now is the time to get your community looking its best. Snap Send Solve is the quickest and easiest tool to help you do just that. And Whitehorse Council now subscribes to SnapSend Solve as reported in the last newsletter. By sharing the results of the great work your council or other authority have done in keeping your neighbourhood beautiful, you automatically go into a draw to win some great prizes. Check it out here.
News Bites (Bytes?)To avoid clogging up your inboxes, Active Whitehorse News is only sent bi-monthly. But … we also publish a lot of other interesting and relevant information, sourced world-wide, about Active Transport and, very importantly, planning for it. Are these articles essential reading for those involved in transport planning and delivery, and those seeking to influence them? WATAG thinks so. Which is why we are encouraging you to take the time to read them. We publish these articles as posts on our “Whats in the News” blog. Some of the individual items in this newsletter are reprints of recent blog posts. To receive automatic notification when a new item is added to the blog, simply add your email address in the box at the top right hand side of all our web pages, and click to receive updates. And if you are a Twitter aficionado , WATAG has some erudite things to say quite regularly. We are @WATAG10
Don’t forget to sign up for our “Whats in the News” blog articles, and be even more informed. Keep active, happy and …
… Merry Christmas to all!
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