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  • J.H. Crawford
    We are finally making some progress. See this article: http://www.theage.com.au/news/in-depth/a-carfree-city-by-2030/2007/09/08/1188783555462.html contents
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 10, 2007
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      We are finally making some progress.

      See this article:


      contents below:

      A car-free city centre by 2030

      September 9, 2007

      Melbourne's car-free day may have been vetoed, but it's an idea too good to ignore, writes Nicholas Low.

      CITIES worldwide are ending their reliance on cars to remake their centres into beautiful environments for living, playing, working and shopping.

      September 22 is World Car-free Day, when people around the world reclaim the streets of great cities. Melbourne could become a car-free city by 2030. The question is, how?

      Cars kill city life. They make the places they invade unpleasant, noisy, dangerous and smelly. But, of course, they deliver mobility.

      Making the city car free does not mean making car access impossible. But it does mean keeping cars out of central areas and making the public transport network more effective.

      Cities are taking the car-free challenge not just to save the environment, but to compete with other cities in creating places where people will want to work, live and spend. In this century, economic success comes with environmental quality.

      Venice, one of the world's most admired cities, is of course car free. In England, even the city of Birmingham, in the heart of the car industry, has turned its central area over to people on foot. London is taming the car with a congestion charge. Montpelier in the south of France has made its central retail and entertainment district a place for walking. These are examples of a movement that has swept Europe in the past 30 years and is catching on in the US.

      The first Australian city to go car free will gain a huge competitive advantage. Melbourne should not be looking for a single iconic building to win fame. Its whole central grid of streets and lanes is its icon.

      Melbourne's civic spine is Swanston Street: it connects two great universities, the State Library, Melbourne Central Station, the main shopping precinct, the Town Hall, St Paul's Cathedral, Federation Square, Flinders Street Station, the Yarra and the Arts Centre. Change must start with Swanston Street.

      The first stage should be to close Swanston Street to all traffic except trams (and bikes), remove kerbs, repave the whole area so that it can be seen as a pedestrian precinct, and allow vehicle access for delivery only between 8pm and 8am.

      Cross-streets must be closed where they intersect Swanston Street: Lonsdale and Little Lonsdale, Bourke and Little Bourke, Collins Street and Flinders Lane. Some excellent urban design is needed to unify the paving, signage and street furniture.

      A new pedestrian junction is needed at Flinders Street. It must be easy to walk down Swanston Street and cross to St Kilda Road. There are several options: blocking Flinders Street, dropping Flinders Street to make a vehicle underpass, or making a diagonal pedestrian crossing and limiting traffic to one lane. The aim should be to connect Swanston Street more comfortably with Federation Square, Flinders Street Station and the arts precinct.

      The second stage ­ easy once the first step is taken ­ is to make the area bounded by Elizabeth, Russell, Flinders and La Trobe streets into a pedestrian precinct. The car parks must be closed. The land is too valuable to waste on car parking.

      The top end of Swanston Street must be redesigned and landscaped to make more space for walking, and a clear connection to the residential district and Melbourne University. There is a constant flow of students and others between Melbourne University, RMIT and the city.

      The City Baths corner of Swanston and Victoria Parade is an important city gateway, but at present it's an ugly mess.

      A car-free central Melbourne can be created without improvement to the public transport network, but it will work much better with improved train, tram and bus services.

      A car-free city will be not just for the people who live there, but for all Melburnians.

      Nicholas Low is an associate professor in the faculty of architecture, building and planning at the University of Melbourne.



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      J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
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