The Active Travel Infrastructure Practitioner Tool is embedded in the ACT urban development process. The general public, local residents and other stakeholders have a vested interest in new developments in the ACT. It can be difficult to find answers to what are sometimes simple questions. Urban development is a large machine that, by necessity, must serve the professionals and commercial partners, but Canberrans as residents and key stakeholders are important, too. These two groups are separated by both language and knowledge.
- The Active Travel Infrastructure Practitioner Tool in the landscape of ACT urban development
- The scope of the tool and the limitations that come along with that
Why use the Active Travel Infrastructure Practitioner Tool?
The Active Travel Infrastructure Practitioner Tool is a website that displays ACT Government planning data from ACTmapi. The Tool is simpler than ACTmapi and provides a selection of data for Canberra’s current and future transport needs with the focus on Active Travel.
Canberra is developing very quickly. The population forecasts are dramatic. Building Canberra sufficiently quickly without compromising quality remains a challenge. The ACT has many design standards and considerations both statutory and non-statutory. Urban design is about compromise and balancing the competing interests. The balance between placemaking and transport is discuss in Movement and Place (Section 7).
Active travel design
Active travel is supported by many documents and planning resources. References for active travel in the ACT include:
- Building an Integrated Transport Network: Active Travel (May 2015)
- Variation of the Territory Plan No 348: Incorporating Active Living Principles into the Territory Plan (27 October 2017)
- Planning for Active Travel in the ACT: Active Travel Infrastructure Interim Planning Guideline (January 2019)
- Active Travel Facilities Design – Municipal Infrastructure Standards 05 (MIS05) (April 2019)
The Active Travel Facilities Design is supported by the Active Travel Infrastructure Practitioner Tool. Here you can download the ACT Standard Drawings (ACTSD) for active travel. Particularly relevant to the new estate development are the following Standard Drawings.
Strength and weaknesses of the tool
The Active Travel Infrastructure Practitioner Tool shows existing and future community routes. The tool has the potential to:
- document existing infrastructure that is important to active travel
- prioritise its importance as part of a much large Canberra wide network of paths (Active Travel Network)
- set priorities for new paths to expand the network (some paths are more important than others)
- set priorities for the existing paths for maintenance, providing information on their relative importance in the network
- set design criteria and upgrade of paths depending on their function
- reserve corridors for future cycle highways that are essential to the network
- aid new estate development by stipulating what type of route is to be designed and the corridor’s spatial location
- make available fit-for-purpose ACT Standard Drawings (ACTSD) for active travel for each type of route including construction, surface, signage, line markings, lighting, and the intersection design.
The Active Travel Infrastructure Practitioner Tool is different to ACTmapi in that it selective shows information related to the Active Travel Network relevant to planning process from concept plans and Development Applications. An example of the spatial data is that for the road network with Local Access Streets, Minor and Major Collectors, and Arterials displayed in different colours shown in figure 5-6.
The Active Travel Infrastructure Practitioner Tool is not a project management tool either. It does not show timelines for construction, completion dates, project delays, or inform the outcome of Development Application approvals (or not). Development Applications are a better source of detail information in the later urban development phase.
New developments such as the Molonglo Valley will take 30 years to build. A simple question such as when I can walk or ride across the Molonglo Valley on a paved path cannot be answered by the Active Travel Infrastructure Practitioner Tool, as the tool does not include information regarding the sequencing of the estate construction. In the Molonglo Valley, the construction does not move from the south to the north, providing one continuous urban surface. The development is done area by area, in fragment way. It can be a decade before gaps close in the cycle path network. Paths are typically bundled with a much larger project such as a school or shopping centre. Roads are built first and buildings go up around them. In contrast, paths are built towards the end of the project after the buildings. Large projects often build from inside out and the paths on the edges are built last.
In conclusion, the routes described in the Active Travel Infrastructure Practitioner Tool will only be ridable/walkable along their entire length towards the end of the Molonglo Valley development. The earliest settlers of Coombs could have time to see their kids grow up and moved out before some paths are complete because the process puts little emphasis on path completion.
Lost opportunity: Butters Bridge
The lost potential can be illustrated with one example of the Butters Bridge. The Butters Bridge was completed in 2016 and while the north side of the bridge is likely to see paths to the adjacent suburb of Whitlam in the next few years, the south side of the bridge is unlikely to be connected to the greater Molonglo Valley path network until the completion of adjacent Denman Prospect estate. The estates of Molonglo and Molonglo East 3 (two suburbs opposite Whitlam, on the north side of the river) appear to be scheduled first.