Categories
urban planning

Cycle highways for commuting

Addressed to the ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr

The ACT Government has recognised the importance of investment in capital projects as part of the stimulus to offset the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 health threat. In 2018 and 2019 the ACT Government released multiple policies to make Canberra a more liveable city, to combat the effects of climate change, and to prepare the city for a population of 500,000, who will need to commute to town centres and Civic across town twice daily. It is expected that our infrastructure will collapse under the peak period loads without the strategic investment in active travel and the construction of cycle highways. Even though it might still be the commonly held mental model, Canberra cannot still live by small city standards but rather mature into a regional metropolis.

Categories
family

Sharing the road: we all need a smile

Canberra.bike recently discussed Austroads recommendations for 30km/h speed limits on local streets. Many local streets are barely wide enough for two cars to pass and without community paths. Despite this, the speed limit is 50km/h on local streets in Canberra. If a child gets injured, the motorist’s apologies are not likely to help either the child or the family – or the driver. This is the problem of vulnerable road users. Collisions are often fatal.

Categories
urban planning

Yvette Berry on active travel

Back in February 2020, canberra.bike sent Minister Berry a letter regarding the Whitlam estate development. I received the reply today which is slow as most ministers reply in a matter of weeks. The replies from ministers are usually formal, brief, general and confirm that the current decision or policy is correct. The nature of the reply makes it of little value but asking questions most definitely is worthwhile. In the ACT, any action requires community support.

Categories
urban planning

Letter to Yvette Berry on active travel

The active travel facilities planned for Whitlam Stage 2 fall short of expectations. As human behaviour follows infrastructure, this lack of future proofing active travel facilities is directly detrimental to achieving an increase in active travel in the ACT.

This ACT Government held an Active Travel Design workshop (12 December 2018) and stated that the background to the new Active Travel Design Guidelines included “poor infrastructure outcomes as a consequence of planning intent getting ‘lost in translation’”. My analysis concludes that this observation is likely relevant for the planning of the brand-new estate Whitlam. My concern is that the failure to systematically integrate active travel principles in the planning process, as well as the dominance of decade old legacy planning practices, will most likely result in the missed potential to develop active travel facilities in the Whitlam and other new estate developments in Canberra. Consequently, this will not only make the roads less safe for vulnerable road users but also not achieve any set active travel goals.

Categories
urban planning

The inconvenient truth of 30km/h local streets

In Germany, the land of the Autobahn, cars driving 200km/h are not uncommon, with some reaching 240km/h. At this speed, the car roars and the fuel gauge plummets. Cars that change lanes loom up at an unnerving speed. The German government is considering reducing speed limits on autobahns to just 160km/h. Some Germans protest against driving so slowly. Other groups point out the benefits that include far less noise in the surrounding areas, and reduced fuel consumption, pollution and less road deaths. 

Many Canberrans would say Germans are crazy to drive so fast, but then the Germans react the same way to us. In Germany, the speed limit in cities is 50km/h, even on major two-lane roads, and often even slower on local streets. To a German, driving faster than 50km/h on a local street is considered dangerous. Austroads would agree, yet this is our situation in Canberra. 

Categories
urban planning

Active Travel Streets: making cycling safer

The active travel vision is grand but difficult to reconcile with the infrastructure found in older suburbs. The ACT Government inherits the old but the old was built in different times with different problems. 

“The past is a foreign country and they do things differently there.”

source unknown

The ACT Government faces today’s problems with the infrastructure designed for yesteryear. Some cities have experienced a great fire. From the bare earth, the city can be rebuilt anew for modern times. The challenge of urban planning is another, to rebuild a living city. This is more akin to rebuilding a boat while you are sitting in it. It is not straight forward and creates anxiety. 

Categories
urban planning

Clear words for clear goals

Clear words for clear goals: making Active Travel meaningful

An email sent to Shane Rattenbury on 24/2/2020 (minor edits)

To achieve the ACT Climate Change Strategy 2019-25 goals, less people will be driving. The strategy does not deny anybody the right to drive.

If people are to leave their cars at home, then the Active Travel Network needs to be very attractive. COMMUTING is one of the primary reasons many people own a car. We cannot live without work and for the majority this involves a twice-daily commute. The 2017 ACT Household Travel Survey shows that the daily commute is one of the longest journeys made. Schools, shops, doctors and sport are usually in the local area and the distance travelled is almost always shorter. Not surprisingly, commuters are least likely to leave their car at home. Getting to work is serious.