Changing transport priorities

The Institute for Sensible Transport has provided advice on how to reduce green house gasses (GHG) in Melbourne through strategic changes to the transport infrastructure. Melbourne dedicates the largest share of public space to the least efficient form of transport with the highest emissions: the private car. The solution is it allocate priorities and resources to people who walk, people who ride and people who travel on public transport.

In the illustration below, the black balloons shows the emissions from GHG per km travelled for each mode of transport (green icon). The size of the green feet icons represents the space (m2) required per occupant. Private cars have high GHG emissions and take up a lot of space.

Space is our cities is of a premium and expensive. The mitigation of climate change requires the reduction of GHG emissions. The more we ride bikes and walk the better. So how do we induce this transformation.

Transport and Climate Change, Institute for Sensible Transport, accessed 17 March 2022
Transport and Climate Change, Institute for Sensible Transport, accessed 17 March 2022

Fuel emissions are poor in Australia and have improved little in 40 years.

The Australian motor vehicle fleet has shown only modest fuel efficiency improvements over the last 40 years, from around 12 litres per 100km to around 10 litres per 100km.

Transport and Climate Change, Institute for Sensible Transport, accessed 17 March 2022

Electric Vehicles (EV) are clean but take up just as much space on the roads as combustion engined vehicles. Electric Vehicles (EV) are not space efficient.

Scenarios to reduce GHG emissions

Transport and Climate Change, Institute for Sensible Transport, accessed 17 March 2022

Melbourne already has high levels of walking and public transport use. Good for them, Canberra is far behind. The Institute for Sensible Transport modelled three scenarios: business as usual, moderate reductions and strong reductions.

scenariobusines as usualmoderate reductionsstrong reductions
public transport39%40%41%
walking29%30%34%
bicycle4%10%13%
car29%20%11%
Transport and Climate Change, Institute for Sensible Transport, accessed 17 March 2022

The Institute for Sensible Transport considered the effect of increasing the mode share of cycling from a low 4% to 13%. This would be a massive increase for the ACT. Even then, the transport emission per person decrease only by 60% from 320 kg CO2 per year to 140 kg CO2 per year. That may seem a little disappointing, and demonstrates the magnitude of the change to our lifestyles required to get on top of climate change.

Should Canberra increase the mode share for cycling from around the current 3% to 13% would result in a huge reduction of GHG emissions. A worth goal, but how do we do it?

Strategies for mode share change

Reallocation of road space

Road space is a scarce commodity. It makes sense to reallocate road space away from the dirty and polluting forms of transport, that we do not want more of, to more efficient and clean forms of transport we need: cycling and walking.

Current road space allocation in the City of Melbourne is a legacy of car orientated planning which emerged from the post-war boom. There is significant scope to reallocate road space to focus on creating more conducive conditions for walking, cycling, and public transport.

Transport and Climate Change, Institute for Sensible Transport, accessed 17 March 2022

We can make popup bike infrastructure from car lanes. Some parking is required but we have far too much of it. One study noted (not sure which city) that for every car the city had 6 parking spots. How this happens is clear, if you own a car you need not only a parking area at home but many across the city. That is a lot of wastes space.

Places we might need to store our car:

  • one at home
  • one at work and
  • one at the school where you pick up your kids,
  • one at the sport oval,
  • one at the shops.

By converting motor vehicle travel lanes or parking bays towards enhanced conditions for sustainable transport (e.g. priority bus lanes, wider footpaths, protected bicycle infrastructure), greater numbers of people will be able to access the city centre, whilst at the same time emitting less carbon. Although there will always be a need for the parking of motor vehicles, including deliveries and other commercial activities, current levels of car parking are higher than optimal.

Transport and Climate Change, Institute for Sensible Transport, accessed 17 March 2022

Prioritise intersections for sustainable modes

The signalised intersections can be reprogrammed to prioritise walking and cycling and more attractive than driving with a private motor vehicle. Currently, the opposite is the case. Our cities are laid out for cars and the lights switched in the interest of motoring efficiency. The ACT Transport Strategy sets priority on walking and then cycling. Prioritise intersections for sustainable modes is the next step.

Hierarchy of prioritisation by mode: pyramid for the importance of each mode of transport in ACT investment.
Hierarchy of prioritisation by mode: pyramid for the importance of each mode of transport in ACT investment. This model is found in all ACT Transport Strategies since 215 including ACT Transport Strategy 2020.

There are several important reasons intersections are vital opportunities in which to implement sustainable transport initiatives. Firstly, intersections have a disproportionate number of crashes, and in the City of Melbourne, many of these crashes involve pedestrians and cyclists (City of Melbourne, 2014a; VicRoads, 2017). Secondly, intersections are a cause of delay, and given the importance of travel time to transport mode choice, intersections offer an excellent opportunity to reduce travel delay for the modes an authority seeks to enhance. This approach will complement road space allocation initiatives that also prioritise walking, cycling and public transport.

Transport and Climate Change, Institute for Sensible Transport, accessed 17 March 2022

For the record, the study has two further recommendations:

  • Charging the way we pay for motor vehicle use (road user pricing) and
  • Lowering the emissions intensity of motorised transport.

Conclusions

Reallocation of road space means we have more than enough space for cycle infrastructure in Canberra. Prioritise intersections for sustainable modes would make navigating roads for pedestrians and cyclist much faster and easier.

There is no reason to delay. The ACT declared a climate change emergency in 2019.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s