What is wrong with the Alice Moyle Way street?

Whitlam Local Shops tentative layout

Whitlam estate is new but has a poor implementation of ACT Active Travel Standards. The biggest issue is children crossing roads. The roads in Whitlam are very wide. Side streets have not been designed in a way to slow cars down. Evidence from traffic studies such as Kambah, would indicate that Canberra motorists will not stop for children without infrastructure such as zebra crossings in place. Whitlam Local Shops should “baked in” traffic calming into the road design of the surround streets. We see, however, for Alice Moyle Way, this is not the case.

This analysis centres on the treatment of the street between the planned shops and primary school in Whitlam. At the heart of the problem is that children and cars do not mix. This is particularly true of primary school children, who do not have the cognitive ability to judge vehicle distance or speed. Primary school children cannot cross the road by themselves unless the cars are moving at walking speed, or safe crossings are provided, such as push-button signalised crossing or zebra crossings (pedestrian crossing on a platform).

We would like to the children to have freedom of movement. This includes walking to school or picking up from the shops on the way home. Walking home from school is desirable and most children did this in the 1970s in Australia, but it is rather uncommon now. Should we wish to promote active travel, walking to school is an important part of that.

Streets are different to roads

There is a difference between the road and the street. A road is designed for cars. The street is a complex environment designed for people and may include a road. The street includes many other features including verge, median strip, footpaths, bike paths, seats, outdoor dining, gardens, and more. Streets can include longitudinal parks and playgrounds. Most people will not cycle on road.

In the Movement and Place Framework, roads are built for movement between destinations, such as an arterial. Streets are built at DESTINATIONS to create place, such as a shopping centre. Whitlam Local Centre and primary school are a destination. The street between should be designed as a Place for People (see figure 1) under the Movement and Place Framework (Moving Canberra 2019-2045 Integrated Transport Strategy).[1]

The Movement and Place Framework
Figure 1: The Movement and Place Framework, Moving Canberra 2019-2045 (ACT Transport Strategy 2018).

The place function of a street can be regarded as what distinguishes it from a road, which primarily has a traffic carrying function. A ‘sense of place’ is fundamental to a richer and more fulfilling environment. It comes largely from creating a strong relationship between the street and the buildings and spaces that frame it. A sense of place encompasses aspects such as local distinctiveness, visual quality, and propensity to encourage social activity (Department for Transport 2007).[2]

Alice Moyle Way

The future Whitlam Local shops and Whitlam Primary School are separated by Alice Moyle Way. This road has currently 5-6 m wide lanes in both directions with parking in the middle. For a bus, 3.5 m lanes are enough. Why should we make lanes on Alice Moyle Way wider than this? Alice Moyle Way should be designed to discourage traffic between the local shopping centre and a school.

Places for People – combined higher pedestrian activity and lower levels of vehicle movement, for example City Walk and Garema Place. They create streetscapes which attract visitors, where people can linger and are places communities value.[3]


Alice Moyle Way: not children friendly

Alice Moyle Way: The street design is not children friendly. The road takes up 63% of the street and no bike paths. On road cycling is prone to car dooring. Most people will not ride on the road.

  • Alice Moyle Way: a horrible design. The road takes up 63% of the street. There are no bike paths. On road cycling is prone to car dooring. Most people will not ride on the road. Whitlam Local Centre - Design and Place Framework, SLA, June 2022, 20.
  • Alice Moyle Way/ Sculthorpe Avenue intersection, Whitlam. Under construction, 28 June 2022.

To get drivers to drive slowly, low speed limits (20 km/h) are required and a complex streetscape that signals to the drivers that a slow speed is appropriate. We read the road ahead driving. With wide lanes and straight roads, drivers will speed. The opposite is also true when the road is designed to drive slowly. The first and foremost way to do this is narrow the street.

  1. Keep the lanes as narrow as possible (signals cars are visitors).
  2. Keep the footpaths as wide as possible (signals this is a pedestrian street).
  3. Curving the street (this has been done).
  4. Putting trees and other barriers (bollards) close to the edge of the road.
  5. Platform crossing and continuous curbs on side streets.

More can be found here: AP-R611-20 Integrating Safe System with Movement and Place for Vulnerable Road Users (Austroads, 4 February 2020)

What wrong with Alice Moyle Way?

Figure 2: What is wrong with the Alice Moyle Way (and Sculthorpe Avenue intersection). Canberra.bike, 22 June 2022.

How can the Alice Moyle Way and Sculthorpe Avenue be fixed?

Main Community Route along Sculthorpe Avenue

A Main Community Route (MCR), shops and primary schools give crossing along Sculthorpe Avenue priority for vulnerable road users. The Whitlam Local Shops (future local centre) are right in figure 3.

Active Travel Network Existing and Future Plan, Whitlam Stage 3 DA, SUPP-202038138-ACTIVE_TRAVEL_NETWORK-01
Figure 3: The Future Local Centre and Future School are shown bottom right. Main Community Route (MCR) along Sculthorpe Avenue (“Road 01” – BLUE dotted line). Active Travel Network Existing and Future Plan, Whitlam Stage 3 DA, SUPP-202038138-ACTIVE_TRAVEL_NETWORK-01.
active travel legend
Figure 4: Legend for map, Active Travel Network Existing and Future Plan, Whitlam Stage 3 DA, SUPP-202038138-ACTIVE_TRAVEL_NETWORK-01.
Whitlam Stage 2 MCR along Sculthorpe Ave SIX side road no priority crossing. Development application ROADHIERARCHY-201936061-01
Figure 5: Walking home from school, means crossing many roads. Whitlam Stage 2 MCR along Sculthorpe Ave SIX side road no priority crossing. Development application ROADHIERARCHY-201936061-01.

Priority or zebra crossing across the Alice Moyle Way

Zebra crossings and priority crossings are similar but not the same. Figure 6 shows the difference. ACT Active Travel Standard Drawing for side street crossings for paths on main and local community routes ACTSD-0528: Zebra crossing (top left), priority crossing (bottom left), and platform crossing (top right).

example, ACTSD-0528, ACT, Australia, urban planning
Figure 6: Active Travel Standard Drawing for side street crossings for paths on main and local community routes ACTSD-0528. Zebra crossing (top left), priority crossing (bottom left), and platform crossing (top right)..
Bike only path, Cooinda Street / College Street. Belconnen Bikeway under construction, stand 11/10/2020
Figure 7: Piority crossing and zebras crossing side-by-side. Bike only path, Cooinda Street / College Street. Belconnen Bikeway under construction, stand 11/10/2020.
CBR Cycle Route C4, zebra crossing, Theodore Street Woden
Figure 8: CBR Cycle Route C4, zebra crossing, Theodore Street Woden

Bike path on Alice Moyle Way

One side of Alice Moyle Way should have a standard 3.5 m bike path. It would seem to make sense to put it on the side of primary school. Shared bike paths can look like wide community paths (figure 9). Alternatively, pedestrian and cyclists can be split onto their own paths which results in greater capacity, less conflict and more safety (figure 10). This will improve the uptake of cycling.

Bike path beside the golf course, Pro Hart Avenue , new suburb of Strathnairn, West Belconnen
Figure 9: There is nothing special about this shared path: Bike path beside the golf course, Pro Hart Avenue, new suburb of Strathnairn, West Belconnen.
Safe cyclings with the"continuous verge treatment", Bike ONLY path crossing Ariotti Street, Strathnairn, West Belconnen
Figure 10: Safe cyclings with the”continuous verge treatment”, Bike ONLY path crossing Ariotti Street, Strathnairn, West Belconnen

Reduce road lanes to 3.5 m

Streets and roads are not the same thing. Creating place for pedestrians on a wide street (as they typically are in Canberra) means that most of the street is allocated to pedestrians. If the street requires access by cars, NARROWED ROADS with wide verges are best for pedestrians. Figure 11 shows a narrow road (right) along a wide street in Vauban ecodistrict, Freiburg, Germany. Figure 12 shows the suburban street Kloostervee, The Netherlands, with wide verges and a narrow road.

Figure 11: New suburb built on an French air base in southern Germany. The suburb of Vauban ecodistrict, Freiburg. The STREET is WIDE (old runway), with a narrow road and the lightrail on the green strip in the middle.
Figure 12: This street in the newly built suburb of Kloosterveen uses the same design to keep cars off a series of streets which together form a direct route only by bike. The Netherlands.

The benefit of minimising road width

  • Easier to cross for the young and the old.
  • People drive slower due to narrowing effect.
  • The street space is available for people, shops, and locals to use creating a “sticky” environment.
  • Greater area permeable surface.

AGTM08-20 Guide to Traffic Management Part 8: Local Street Management

3.2 Understanding the Functions of a Local Street

Local streets serve many functions, some of which conflict. These functions can be classified into two broad groups:

• movement (access, mobility and service) functions including parking

• amenity and social functions associated with the use and enjoyment of the streetspace and the land abutting the street, often referred to as its sense of place.

Access, mobility and service functions relate primarily to movement and include:

• vehicular access to properties and distribution of traffic between properties and the major road system. Vehicular movement includes emergency vehicles, essential services and public transport services

• pedestrian and cyclist movement, which is often endangered and inconvenienced by other traffic

• parking and loading/unloading of goods.

The essential principle of LATM is that not all elements in the road network serve predominantly a transport function.

In traffic hierarchy terms, local streets serve primarily a ‘terminal’ function, allowing vehicles to reach individual places within the locality. On such streets, it is recognised that the needs of moving traffic are not more important than the needs of other users and functions in the street, and are often subservient to these other functions. Driver expectations about speed and levels of service should be modified accordingly.

Today, there is a widespread recognition of the multi-purpose nature of urban streets and the need for a holistic approach to their design and management. In fact ‘streets as multi-functional places’ has been an underpinning principle for LATM since its earliest days in Australia and New Zealand (Australian Road Research Group 1976). Local streets today are not necessarily just residential in nature and may house many different land uses including those relating to commercial, service industry and community activity, and the range of car, public transport and non-vehicular travel that they generate. Local streets may be in town and city centres and other activity zones in addition to normal suburban residential streets.

Amenity functions are related to the street as a place where people live, work, recreate or go about their daily business. In this context the street may function as:

• a part of the living and working environment, which may contribute to (or restrict) the pleasant use of adjacent land and buildings

common ground for children (specifically the verge or nature strip, though play often spills over onto the street itself in quiet residential areas)

• a place for social interaction between neighbours

• a place where people work or access their work

• a place for leisure and recreational activities such as strolling or jogging or cycling

• an extension of residents’ private yards, used for parking, cleaning or working on a vehicle

• an opportunity to visually enhance the environment by streetscaping

• open space to give residents a feeling of privacy and separation.

The place function of a street can be regarded as what distinguishes it from a road, which primarily has a traffic carrying function. A ‘sense of place’ is fundamental to a richer and more fulfilling environment. It comes largely from creating a strong relationship between the street and the buildings and spaces that frame it. A sense of place encompasses aspects such as local distinctiveness, visual quality, and propensity to encourage social activity (Department for Transport 2007). [4]

Useful references:

  • AP-R611-20 Integrating Safe System with Movement and Place for Vulnerable Road Users (Austroads, 4 February 2020)
  • AGRD06A Guide to Road Design Part 6A: Paths for Walking and Cycling (Austroads, 11 February 2021)
  • AGTM08 16 Guide to Traffic Management Part 8 Local Area Traffic Management (LATM) (Austroads, 2016) – superseded LATM document
  • AGTM08-20 Guide to Traffic Management Part 8: Local Street Management (Austroads, 28 April 2020) – more recent LATM document

[1] Moving Canberra 2019-2045 Integrated Transport Strategy (2018 Transport Strategy), ACT Government, 17.

[2] AGTM08-20 Guide to Traffic Management Part 8: Local Street Management (Austroads, 28 April 2020), 13-14.

[3] Moving Canberra 2019-2045 Integrated Transport Strategy (2018 Transport Strategy), ACT Government, 17.

[4] AGTM08-20 Guide to Traffic Management Part 8: Local Street Management (Austroads, 28 April 2020) – more recent LATM document

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