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

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
tips

Kama reserve: much loved

Update: signs at the northern entrances of Kama, Molonglo River Reserve, prohibit cycling. This post will be corrected. Read more here.

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

Cycling between Whitlam and south Belconnen

This is a very short case study demonstrating the feasibility of riding to schools and shops in Belconnen from Whitlam. Another discussion of Whitlam’s proximity to Belconnen for active travel can be found here and the location of schools in the area here.

Categories
urban planning

Whitlam – Molonglo Valley or South Belconnen?

How far can you ride from Whitlam from the time of the first land release in March 2020? Belconnen is a 20 minute ride. The city is about 30 minutes away, but Coombs is also 30 minutes distant. It is a hard place to get out of, with no off-road bike paths beyond the first 1km. Looking at map 1, it is clear that for active travel Whitlam is part of the Belconnen community.

So should we call it Molonglo Valley or South Belconnen?

Categories
urban planning

Schools in the ACT around Whitlam

I considered in another post the proximity of the new suburb of Whitlam to school and other infrastructure. Whitlam appear to be lost at the end of the Molonglo valley.

Schools are particularly important as the children living in Whitlam have to go to school somewhere. I have discovered a full list of schools in the ACT are shown on the ACT Government Open Data Portal.

Figure 1: ACT Schools as shown on the ACT Government Open Data Portal

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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

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.