Tactical urbanism: an agile approach to better cities

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We all want better cities but it seems to take decades for any change. Tactical urbanism is an urban planning approach for delivering projects when needed. This webinar from Austroads tells us why we need it in the ACT.

Planning big by starting small.

Austroads webinars are often good: what they lack in excitement is made up for with good content. We have been spoilt by movies with action in the first scene. Austroad webinars are not like that. They are slow starters.

Here are a few takeways.

  • People are the problem: we want change but get scared when we see it happen.
  • Loss aversion: our reaction to loss is stronger than that to gain. A minority will protest immediately and it takes a lot longer for the majority to voice their support for the benefits of the project.
  • The project is the consultation. The agile approach is about small changes with benefits immediately noticed – usually within weeks. If you do not like something, it will be improved soon but later.
  • The government planning process is typically for million-dollar megaprojects with 3 year approval time frames. The approvals for tactical urbanism come through in three weeks. It is hard for the government planning organisation to respond to small and cheap projects quickly. They do not know how to and must learn this lean change approach.
  • Tactical urbanism is about giving the community the opportunity to work on a project and experience the change before they consider making it permanent.

Tactical Urbanism – Streets for People. 21 July 2020.

With the motto ‘Short term action for long term change’, tactical urbanism refers to a city, organisational, and/or citizen-led approach to neighbourhood-building using short-term, low-cost, and scalable interventions to catalyse long-term change that improves the experience of pedestrians and cyclists.

Cities around the world have been exploring and testing short-term public space initiatives in recent years and, beyond its immeasurable negative consequences, the COVID-19 pandemic has undeniably created opportunities for further assessment and reflection in this direction. What and who are cities for? How will people move around and interact in our cities moving forward? Were cities in 2019 the cities we want in 2029? 2039? 2049? In this Austroads webinar, held on 21 July, leading practitioners Mike Lydon (US), Claire Pascoe (NZ) and Sara Stace (NSW) talk about the latest actions in tactical urbanism and how they influence the rethink of public space to build cities that are more inclusive, safe and prosperous for all.”

Tactical Urbanism – Streets for People, webinar, Austroads, 21 July 2020
Tactical Urbanism page 22
Tactical Urbanism page 22

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