Categories
urban planning

John Gorton Drive bridge update

This bridge over the Molonglo River will be the last section of the John Gorton Drive to be completed by 2024. Information about this bridge is found here. The close by Butters Bridge was finished in 2016 but is not yet in use.

Weston Creek Community Council wrote to Chris Steel, Minister for Roads and Active Travel, requesting that John Gorton Drive bridge be brought forward as part of the ACT Government’s Fast Track program. This now seems unlikely.

Categories
urban planning

When strategies collide: climate change, active travel and environment

The ACT Government goals found in the ACT Climate Change Strategy 2019-25, the Molonglo River Reserve Management Plan 2019, and the Active Travel Framework conflict and are difficult to reconcile. These strategies show commonalities but as with any specific project, there will be trade-offs. In the Molonglo Valley, active travel is poorly served.

The ACT Climate Change Strategy 2019-25 goals cannot be met with Recreational Routes, and that is all the Molonglo River Reserve Management Plan 2019 is likely to produce. The Active Travel Framework describes both Recreational Routes and Community Routes. Riding to work must be attractive, direct and safe, if we are to achieve the ACT Climate Change Strategy 2019-25 goals for active travel. We need cycle highways and more Community Routes. Only 3% of Canberra’s commuters currently ride to work – and this is actually a downward trend!

The Molonglo Valley Development demonstrates the tensions that arise in urban development. The Molonglo Special Purpose Reserve and Whitlam Residential Estate show no clear benefit for the active traveller. This should be a reason for concern. A good overarching network of cycle highways will not occur by accident.

Categories
urban planning

Active Streets: prioritising path maintenance

Active Streets is an ACT Government program that should not be confused with Active Travel Streets. Active Streets is a budget measure to improve the paths in older suburbs, particularly around shopping centres and schools. Path routine maintenance is relatively unlikely as it is expensive. The ACT Government deserves acknowledgement for the effort but the funds are still limited. 

For active travel, the infrastructure in older suburbs needs to be improved. This is discussed in the post: Active Travel Streets: making cycling safer

Active Travel Streets is the transformation of older suburbs with the replacement of the old with the new. It is the reconception of the space and rebalancing the priorities to make more space for people. Active Travel Streets is a renewal of an old space. 

Categories
urban planning

The Active Travel Infrastructure Practitioner Tool is dated

The Active Travel Infrastructure Practitioner Tool (ATIPT) is essential for the planning of greenfield developments such as the Molonglo Valley. It should be kept up to date but it is currently not. This is concerning as Practitioner Tool contains the cycling corridors (Active Travel Route Alignments) that should be the starting point for estate planning. The Practitioner Tool is out of date compared to the most current estate planning documents, perhaps because it is ignored in the planning process. Canberra.bike includes an introduction and discussion of the Practitioner Tool and in this post there are extracts from the KEY DOCUMENTS.

Key documents – Standards and guideline documents which should be used in the planning and design of active travel facilities. These are listed in Sections 2.2.3 to 2.2.7.”

Active Travel Facilities Design – Municipal Infrastructure Standards 05 (MIS05) (ACT Government, April 2019), pages 13-17
Categories
urban planning

Bridge profile: John Gorton Drive bridge

This bridge over the Molonglo River will be the last section of the John Gorton Drive to be completed (2024). There is not a lot of information available about this bridge. The bridge required environmental approval for its construction. Further, the bridge is mentioned in ACT Infrastructure Plan 2019. The following information is an extract from these reports.

Categories
urban planning

Our Canberra: a new cycling bridge

The ACT Government hailed the Butters Bridge as “a new cycling bridge in the Molonglo Valley” (Our Canberra, December 2016).

Unfortunately, this has turned out not the case. The EPSDD dont really want cyclists to use it. The intentions for the bridge are discussed more at length here.

Our Canberra, December 2016
Categories
urban planning

Active travel between Whitlam and Denman Prospect

For active travel, we need networks and not just fragments. We want to be able to travel across the city over distances of 10 km and more. When we see an active traveller they are, generally speaking, not travelling to this place but THROUGH it, on the way to somewhere else. It is not clear what their destination is only that they needed to travel through this area. When building the Active Travel Network we are building thoroughfares. 

It is important to understand the way the city is planned and developed. If we want to shape and prioritise the development of a good active travel network it will require interventions during the planning phase. This particularly true for cycle highways for riding to work. The design requirements are different from the paths for recreational riders and locals that seek a destination within a suburb.

Denman Prospect and Whitlam are two suburbs in the Molonglo Valley, south and north of the Molonglo River, and part of the Molonglo Valley Stage 3. Whitlam Residential Estate is now under construction and the planning of the Molonglo Special Purpose Reserve (Nummerak) has proceeded to a development application.

This is a case study of these two independently planned developments that are of particular interest to active travel in the Monlonglo Valley. One of the basic principles of urban planning is “permeability”. Urban environments that are permeable allow easy and direct routes for pedestrians and cyclists independent of the road network. Cars have high travel speeds and ease of travel (effort). For pedestrians and cyclists this is not the case and “ease” means a direct route. How does the Whitlam Residential Estate and the planning of the Molonglo Special Purpose Reserve stack up.

Categories
urban planning

Bridge profile: Butters Bridge, Molonglo Valley

Cost $7.7m, length 242 m and 25 m high over the Molonglo River, it is one of ACT`s tallest and longest bridges.

The project won the Master Builders Association 2016 Award in the category of National Civil/Infrastructure Award – under $25 million.

Butters Bridge
Categories
urban planning

The bike infrastructure in Wright and Coombs

The suburbs of Wright and Coombs are new suburbs finished in the last five years and as such showcase the design principles for suburb development. For new suburbs good bike infrastructure begins and ends on the designer’s drawing board. Once the suburb is built it is set in stone. I would conclude that coherent network of continuous bike paths across the city needs a master plan for bike path infrastructure, upon which new suburbs can be designed and realised so that the new infrastructure interconnects. In other words, suburb design starts with the end in mind. The suburb is a small unit of the much larger and longer endeavour, to build active travel networks across the city.

Looking at the suburbs of Wright and Coombs the following can be observed:

  • bike paths are along waterways and parks and traverse the suburb
  • bike paths connect people to schools and shops
  • bike paths often end at the boundary of the suburb
  • when bike paths are found on the edge of suburbs, they are often fragments going nowhere, stopping and starting at arbitrary locations.
Categories
urban planning

Belconnen to Coombs via the Butters Bridge

I wrote this to highlight the need for north-south bike path between Belconnen and Coombs. Go bike routes are direct and riding to Coombs from Belconnen is anything but direct. This post shows one way such a path could be built. There is space for it and the road crossing points could optimised but unfortunately it is not planned. Further more, the Molonglo Valley active travel routes exclude the Butters Bridge for cycling. I think this is a mistake but there is currently little evidence that this is changing.