Categories
urban planning

A plan is as good as its execution

Any architect can draw a plan, the problem is getting the builder to look at it.

There does not appear to be a lack of ideas for a better cycle network for Canberra but we have poor performance building them. The recent Fast Track program demonstrated this. The paths that were built were mostly below the minimum standard for cycling and unfortunately did not form networks.

Designing a cycling network by asking people to “suggest a path” brings with it the question, what to do with a list of unhelpful suggestions. The crowdsourced approach is great for stakeholder engagement but a disjointed “wish list” is unlikely to lead to cycling networks. Fast Track has demonstrated this.

In a landscape of changing political priorities, plans do not always turn out as expected.

Pandora’s box

If we consider the network approach, not everybody is going to have a Major Community Route, a cycling highway, in front of their house. The major routes are built where they are needed and to be as direct and fast as possible. Whether you have a 4m bicycle-only path running down your street is all about where other cyclists live and where they need to go. That the route passes by your house is then happenchance.

For some, the problem will be the opposite. Not everybody loves cycling and many people are happy with their street the way it is. They may not welcome the construction of a 4m bicycle-only path on their street. The route must go there because the network works best that way. It can be a hard sell to gain acceptance of the local community for the construction when they may not personally experience any benefit.

sign and safety
Community engagement is a case of “watch your step”. Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

We have a plan already

As it turns out, Canberra has had a plan for a few years now, its realisation, however, is poor. The plan is called “CBR Cycle Routes” and part of the work done on Active Travel since 2015. The “CBR Cycle Routes” are a network of cycle routes between Canberra’s town centres.

Canberra has struggled with the plan’s realisation. CBR Cycle Routes appear to have been forgotten. This plan could be arguably improved, but the Molonglo Valley development would indicate that it is completely ignored. Why have a plan when we do not read it? If there are changes the plan needs to be updated and this is not happening. The ongoing challenges with active travel in new estates are discussed here.

CBR Cycle Routes” is introduced below. Background to the urban planning process itself is found here.

Example of the failure to build a path on the preferred line. Flemington Road, Mitchell, Canberra.
Detour ahead: people prefer to walk straight down the street and not detour around the trees. Flemington Road, Mitchell, Canberra.

CBR Cycle Routes

In the Active Travel Framework, the “CBR Cycle Routes” are of a type known as Main Community Routes. Local Community Routes are planned within suburbs to schools and shops.

The online Active Travel Infrastructure Practitioner Tool is a online map of the existing and intended Main and Local Community Routes. It is an urban planning tool, “created to provide timely route information for planners, developers and facility designers.”

Issues with the Active Travel Infrastructure Practitioner Tool are discussed here.

The Plan

Starting with an example: a photo of part of the CBR Cycle Route C5, and below that what the ACT Government map of the route looks like.

CBR Cycle Route C5, Aranda Nature Reserve, Aranda hill, Canberra.
CBR Cycle Route C5, Aranda Nature Reserve, Aranda hill, Canberra.
CBR Cycle Routes enlargement C5 and C10, Active Travel Infrastructure Practitioner Tool
CBR Cycle Routes enlargement C5 and C10, Active Travel Infrastructure Practitioner Tool

The complete network of paths covers all of Canberra.

CBR Cycle Routes, Building an integrated transport network active travel 2015, ACT Government.
CBR Cycle Routes, Building an integrated transport network active travel 2015, ACT Government, page 51.

Currently these are the routes planned.

CBR Cycle Routes index, Active Travel Infrastructure Practitioner Tool
CBR Cycle Routes index, Building an integrated transport network active travel 2015, ACT Government, page 51.

The online tool

The Active Travel Infrastructure Practitioner Tool shows more than just routes and is derived from the ACT Government planning tool ACTmapi.

Active Travel Infrastructure Practitioner Tool https://activeinfrastructure.net.au/
Active Travel Infrastructure Practitioner Tool

The community routes are a hierarchy of Principal, Main and Local Community Routes. As a planning tool, not all the paths currently exist. The tool includes the planning status: endorsed, intended and future. Endorsed plans are signed off, intended ones are likely to eventuate, and in the future, well,… who knows.

Community Routes, Active Travel Infrastructure Practitioner Tool
Community Routes, Active Travel Infrastructure Practitioner Tool

Two further types, Accessible Pedestrian Routes (wheel chairs, no bikes) and On-Road Cycling Routes (cycle lanes), are worth mentioning.

Accessible Pedestrian Routes (no bikes) and On-Road Cycling Routes, Active Travel Infrastructure Practitioner Tool

“Destinations” in the Active Travel Framework are places we ride to, including shopping centres and schools.

Town and group centres, Active Travel Infrastructure Practitioner Tool
Town and group centres, Active Travel Infrastructure Practitioner Tool

We need to ride across roads safely. A zebra crossing is laid out for pedestrians but can be used by cyclists (10 km/h). The priority crossing is found on Main Community Routes and bikes have the priority over cars.

active travel, ACT, Australia, Australia, Active Travel Facilities Design - Municipal Infrastructure Standards 05
Path Priority crossing of a local access street Location: Lyneham, ACT. Inset detail shows crossing area speed hump and ACT linemarking detail. Active Travel Facilities Design Municipal Infrastructure Standards 05, page 56
Lights, underpasses, zebra and priority crossing, Active Travel Infrastructure Practitioner Tool
Lights, underpasses, zebra and priority crossing, Active Travel Infrastructure Practitioner Tool

Key documents

There are three important documents for active travel.

Cover of Building an Integrated Transport Network: Active Travel (aka. Active Travel Framework)
ACT Government, urban planning, ACT, Australia
The cover of Planning for Active Travel in the ACT: Active Travel Infrastructure Interim Planning Guideline
ACT Government, urban planning, ACT, Australia
The cover 2019 Active Travel Facilities Design Municipal Infrastructure Standards 05

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