RobertsDay: Molonglo 3 East Planning and Infrastructure Study

The Molonglo 3 East Planning and Infrastructure Study is a combination of engineering (WSP) and urban design (RobertsDay). The content related to cycling is largely found in the reports written by RobertsDay. RobertsDay is facilitating a Movement and Place framework discussion between ACT Transport and ACT Environment on the go. Molonglo 3 East project is about experimentation and innovation. The cycle network is still inconclusive but appears promising.

Related

The challenges of the topography in Molonglo 3 East and the staging of the Future Urban Area (FUA) is discussed here.

The importance of the intersection connecting Molonglo 3 East with William Hovell Drive and Bindubi Street is discussed here.

The East West Arterial / bridge and the C10 City to Molonglo Cycleway is discussed here.

The Molonglo 3 East Planning and Infrastructure Study and the reports written by the consultant WSP is discussed here.

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Analysis
  3. Which option?
  4. Design Principles
  5. Edge Roads

Introduction

The planning and infrastructure study is a long document consisting of a main report and appendices, some of which are written by the consultant WSP and others by RobertsDay. WSP does not mention path widths for active travel in any of its reports but RobertsDay does in the following reports (extracts below). It is not clear why WSP would omit this. In general, on the cycle network, there is a lack of detail.

  • RobertsDay, Design Principles, Molonglo 3 East, February 2021.
  • RobertsDay, Edge Roads Workshop, Molonglo 3 East, July 2020.

Analysis

The ACT has had an Active Travel Standard since 2018 (although it needs revision) and a Movement and Place framework just as long. The Movement and Place framework is promoted by ACT Transport but poorly integrated into ACT Planning. A guideline is yet to be written by ACT Transport and ACT Planning in which it is described how they commonly understand the concept of Movement and Place in practical terms that it can be implemented. The absence of this document means that there is no common understanding for discussion and has impacts on the development of Molonglo 3 East.

RobertsDay and WSP work together. The ideas from RobertsDay are from the perspective of an urban planner and the desire to create a good place to live. Movement and Place is part of this. To build the estate requires a great deal of civil engineering expertise. That is where WSP come into the picture.

The WSP Outcomes Report, Molonglo 3 East Planning and Infrastructure Study (March 2021) demonstrates this relationship between urban design and engineering. The planning and infrastructure study is in the first phase and the second is in work. It is self evident from this first report how much still needs to be done.

The WSP report covers sewerage, storm water, catchments, topography and a preliminary layout. The latter is largely informed from the design from RobertsDay. Missing is detail about the cycling network and infrastructure. WSP may say that it is too early, that it comes later, say in the estate development plan and the development application. We are of the opinion that that would be too late.

Canberra.bike has reviewed the documents from RobertsDay and notes only in their latest report (February 2021) mentions desired path widths. RobertsDay has, however, fleshed out the Movement and Place framework here with different types of corridors: bicycle boulevards, local streets, active transport corridors, public transport corridors, and sub arterials.

path width and character by typewidth shared with
bicycle boulevards3mcars
local streets3.2m cars
active transport corridors3.5-5mpedestrians
public transport corridors3.5mpedestrians
sub arterials3.5mpedestrians
canberra.bike. Source: RobertsDay, Design Principles, Molonglo 3 East, February 2021

The Estate Development Code is not perfect and ACT Travel Standards represent minimum specifications that are not contextual to the Molonglo 3 East development. That is to say, paths and intersections may be designed differently and should reflect the importance of the path in the network and proximity to destinations such as schools and shops.

In Whitlam, the whole estate has a standard blue coloured intersections. The intersection remains the same for pedestrians and cyclist, independent of whether the path is close to a school or shops or the paths position in the hierarchy. Whether the path is a Main Community Route (MCR), Local Community Route (LCR) or a community path on a local street has a significant impact on the expectation of traffic and speed of the cycles. In front of a house on a local street, the cyclist is likely going a lot slower than commuting home from work or school on a Main Community Route. When Main Community Route crosses a local street, the Active Travel Standard mandates a priority crossing, ie the cyclist has right away and the cars must give way. Should the Main Community Route cross an arterial road, we would expect a signalised intersection.

The cycling network is overlaid on the estate. In some cases the cycle paths share road corridors, light rail corridors or traverse green spaces such as parks. Where they lie depends on the network design and that depends on destinations in the estate/suburb and the network of cycle paths surrounding the Future Urban Area to other town, group and local centres.

At this stage, there should be indicative sketch drawings how of this cycle network overlays. There is not, or at least, nothing satisfactory, which leads to the thought that the planning of the cycle network is being approached in a piecemeal way and subordinate to other priorities.

Further investigation of this problem is required. It would seem RobertsDay is facilitating a Movement and Place framework discussion between ACT Transport and ACT Environment on the fly. Molonglo 3 East project is about experimentation and innovation. If successful, Molonglo 3 East could become what the suburb of Vauban became for the city of Freiburg in Germany. A demonstration that of what can be done, that we can build our cities differently, neither high density nor low density but something in between.

Design Principles

Source: Appendix B – RobertsDay, Design Principles, Molonglo 3 East, February 2021.

This report has a good section on the design features of the transport corridors in the estate. Transport is not just cars and roads. Where cars are not permitted, we can still have transport, for example buses, light rail, cyclists and pedestrians. For this reason, urban planning differentiates between roads and streets. We find cars on a road, but generally not on a street. We do not want cars everywhere in our city. That is the reason we have a Movement and Place framework.

Design Features

GENERAL PRINCIPLES

Active transport and public transport are prioritised over private motorised vehicles.
– Road and footpath widths should be as outlined by road type below.
– For corridors identified for future light rail, corridor preservation (as outlined in public transport interface) should be adhered to.
Ideal gradients are less than 12%, however due to the topographical constraints of the study area steeper gradients may be considered. …
– The road types listed below are not exhaustive and other road types may be considered.
– Similarly, streets may be a mixture of different road types principles listed below.

BICYCLE BOULEVARDS

Prioritise cyclists first, may still accommodate private vehicles as a secondary mode.
– Direct routes for cyclists to encourage cycling over other modes.
– Some sections could be cyclists only to discourage private vehicles.
Clear wayfinding and signage for cyclists to key destinations, both local and regional destinations.
Ideally 3 metre widths per lane if the bicycle boulevard is shared with vehicles. An additional 2.5 metres should be allowed for footpaths for pedestrians.

LOCAL STREETS

– Slow traffic environment to enhance safety for all users. Introduce traffic calming that is integrated with urban design principles.
– Allow safe movement for all modes through local streets, supporting footpaths and other transport infrastructure.
– Balance off street parking with land use intensity.
For local streets a 3.2 metres lane width is appropriate with an adjacent 2.5 metre footpath. …

ACTIVE TRANSPORT CORRIDORS

– Connect to existing (or proposed) external paths such as along the Molonglo River Corridor, through the Arboretum of existing underpasses under William Hovell Drive.
Minimum of 3.5m for shared use path. Up to 5m for bidirectional cycle path and footway. Could be any width in between these points

PUBLIC TRANSPORT CORRIDORS

– Ensure appropriate widths, eg; allowing buses to pass each other
Enable good pedestrian and cyclist links to public transport stops.
– Give priority to public transport at signals with dedicated bus jumps.
– Ensure public transport stops and conveniently located to key
destinations such as group centres, local centres and schools as well as responding to land use density.
– Buses and light rail vehicles should have approximately 3.5 metre lanes.
To encourage shared use 3.5 metres footpath and cycleway could run adjacent.

SUB ARTERIALS

– Function as a multi-modal corridor
Limited intersections to facilitate a higher movement function.
– Have adequate crossing opportunities based on pedestrian desire lines across the corridor
– Tie into surrounding intersections on John Gorton Drive, William Hovell Drive and the future East West Arterial as appropriate.
– Lane widths of 3.2-3.5 metres and could have multiple lanes.
To encourage shared use 3.5 metres footpath and cycleway could run adjacent.

RobertsDay, Design Principles, Molonglo 3 East, February 2021, 184.

Generation of movement

– Use the ACT Household travel survey to estimate trip generation within Molonglo 3 (household and subdivision).
– Use modal share objectives to break the trip rate down by estimate trips per day (per individual mode. Note that the target covers all trips, not just commuting trips so will reflect trips to local centres, school etc.)
– Have visionary mode share targets supporting active travel and public transport to reflect Canberra’s vision. This will also be considered with high, medium and low targets.
– Acknowledge that the study area is optimally designed and located to accommodate these targets.
– Acknowledge the presence of local schools, local centres and a group centre all to be connected by a strong active travel network.
– Acknowledge the presence of public transport, in particular a future rapid mass transit route through Molonglo 3.

RobertsDay, Design Principles, Molonglo 3 East, February 2021, 185.

Connected to public transport, pedestrian and cycling networks

Planning for community facilities requires a focus on enhancing efficiency and utilisation. Public transport enhances accessibility for all population groups. As a principle, community facilities should ideally be located within 400 metres walking distance of a regular public transport stop. Linking to pedestrian and cycling networks provides another avenue to promote the accessibility of facilities to all groups in the population and is a further means to encourage sustainable behaviour and a healthy and active lifestyle.

RobertsDay, Design Principles, Molonglo 3 East, February 2021, 227.

Edge Roads

Source: Appendix G – RobertsDay, Edge Roads Treatment Memo Workshop, Molonglo 3 East, July 2020.

The report contains no path widths or reference to the Active Travel Standards.

Road Function

The following considerations have been given to the design of the collector roads through Molonglo 3 East:
Design speed of 60km/h. (ed. See WSP, Transport Modelling Report, Molonglo 3 East Planning and Infrastructure Study, March 2021, 296.)
• To accommodate a collector road with provision for a bus network, the traffic lanes should be a minimum of 4 metres.
• Likely require a prioritised pedestrian crossing (including cyclists and equestrians).
• A footpath will be provided along at least one side of the road, two sides where built up areas are situated on both sides of the road.
• On road cycle lanes of 1.5 metre width in both directions. …
• Presumed not to accommodate on street parking (unless desirable based on adjacent land uses).

Acknowledging its role in the Movement and Place framework, the street will act in some instances as a Movement Corridor. Around local centres and as place functionality increases due to higher density housing and retail units, a more Vibrant Street road character would occur. To increase pedestrian amenity and encourage vibrancy, the following high-level strategies are considered:
Increase the quantity of bicycle parking spaces around the local centres and schools, to increase availability and further encourage cycling for short trips within the precinct.
• Reducing vehicle speeds on adjacent roads in pedestrian heavy areas can improve pedestrian and cyclist comfort levels, perceived safety concerns and encourage walking and cycling.
• Increase the number of pedestrian and cyclist connections across the collector roads.
• Create safe, secure and spacious environments for pedestrians to encourage foot traffic and street level activity and therefore resulting in greater lengths of stay. This may include providing wider footpaths, where possible to encourage outdoor dining areas, as well as public seating to promote more pedestrian activity.
• Increase appeal of the environment by creating a “nicer place to be” including providing trees, parklets, park benches and green spaces.

Where the corridor preforms an increased Movement function, the pedestrian environment should be maintained to encourage active transport around the precinct. The traffic lane widths and presence of cycle lanes/footpaths will remain along the entirety of
the corridor.

RobertsDay, Part 3: Edge Roads, Molonglo 3 East, July 2020, 507.

Phase 1 Planning and Infrastructure Study: what is in it.

  1. Molonglo 3 East Planning and Infrastructure Study contents
  2. WSP, Phase 1 Outcomes Report, Molonglo 3 East Planning and Infrastructure Study, March 2021.
  3. Appendix A – WSP, Background Review, Molonglo 3 East Planning and Infrastructure Study, May 2020.
  4. Appendix B – RobertsDay, Design Principles, Molonglo 3 East, February 2021.
  5. Appendix C – WSP, Options Report, Molonglo 3 East Planning and Infrastructure Study, July 2020.
  6. Appendix D Part 1 – WSP, Drawings, Molonglo 3 East Planning and Infrastructure Study, March 2021.
  7. Appendix D Part 2 – WSP, Drawings, Molonglo 3 East Planning and Infrastructure Study, March 2021.
  8. Appendix E – WSP, Transport Modelling Report, Molonglo 3 East Planning and Infrastructure Study, March 2021.
  9. Appendix F – WSP, Preliminary Transport Noise Impact Assessment, Molonglo 3 East Planning and Infrastructure Study, March 2021.
  10. Appendix G – RobertsDay, Part 1: “Big Ideas” Innovations Workshop, Molonglo 3 East, May 2020, 1.
  11. Appendix G – RobertsDay, Part 2: Options Workshop, Molonglo 3 East, July 2020, 68.
  12. Appendix G – RobertsDay, Part 3: Edge Roads Treatment Memo, Molonglo 3 East, July 2020, 109.
  13. Appendix G – RobertsDay, Part 4: Group Centre Options, Molonglo 3 East, November 2020, 114.

The final document is missing from this set but important due to its remarkable similarity to Appendix B.

  • RobertsDay, Background Report Review, Molonglo 3 East, May 2020.

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