urban planning

Getting to our feet

The ACT Conservation Council webinar on active travel. Enjoy.

The webinar was annouced recently on here.


Playground refresh program

The ACT Government has an urban renewal program that includes the whole of Canberra. Check out the projects close to where you live on the interactive map. The projects include playgrounds. discussed the renewal of playgrounds here recently.

“Play space upgrades

As part of the ACT Government’s Better Suburbs Program, a community-led Play Spaces Forum allocated $1.9 million to improve playgrounds. One key decision was the allocation of $350,000 for new nature play spaces to enhance Eddison Park in Woden and Glebe Park in the City. $150,000 was also set aside to build a nature play space in Farrer. Read all about the new nature play spaces here.”

Play space upgrades, ACT Government, accessed 25 June 2020
urban planning

William Hovell Drive duplication

Duplications are a common occurrence in Canberra. Now William Hovell Drive has its turn. This is a “shared story” from The Riot ACT

urban planning

Active Travel Infrastructure Interim Planning Guideline

Another important document for active travel in Canberra and urban planning, and another very long title. This post is an introduction to Planning for Active Travel in the ACT: Active Travel Infrastructure Interim Planning Guideline (ACT Government, January 2019). Because the title is so long it is often simply referred to it as PATACT.

ACT Government, urban planning, ACT, Australia
Figure 1: The cover of Planning for Active Travel in the ACT: Active Travel Infrastructure Interim Planning Guideline (PATACT)

The ACT urban planning documents often build on one another. This one is no exception. This document was released in January 2019, which may seem a long time after the release of the Building an Integrated Transport Network: Active Travel in 2015, and Light Rail Network –Delivering a modern transport system for a growing city (Light Rail Network), October 2015. The last two documents describe the ACT Government’s strategy for active travel as well as the light rail component of active travel. With PATACT the ACT Government describes what that means for non-road infrastructure and urban planning, in particular cycling.

urban planning

Greenfield developments and active travel

It is unrealistic to expect the ACT Government to fund all active travel infrastructure from general revenue as capital works. It cannot be done. Alone the maintenance to a high standard an ever-expanding bike paths network is a challenge.

The sale of land for dwellings will always be a top priority for the ACT Government due to the expected population growth and ever-growing costs of servicing the existing Canberra population. The ACT budget is spent on the services that are regarded by most Canberrans as essential (health, education, etc).

We are proud of Canberra, our bush capital. The environmental regulations will continue to be front-of-mind for estate planners to protected and preserve these environmental assets. The downside is that it comes at a price. There are many places in Canberra where you will not get approval to build a bike path.

Land sales are revenue, so the ACT will prioritise that over finishing suburbs (and bike paths). The land release will remain staged. This type of estate planning is within a bounded area and the bigger picture outside those boundaries, such as cross city cycle highways, are left off the map.

We will need to accept that without capital funding, the active travel infrastructure will never be built all at once, but in a fragmented way.

Riding to work requires cycle highway networks that span the city. With the above constraints, it is achievable but not quick or easy. Without long term planning and enduring effort, it will never be achieved.

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.