Transport plays an important role in how we move people and freight around our cities and towns. The challenge is to ensure transport does not detract from places by creating physical barriers, noise, pollution or safety risks.
What is placemaking?
Successful placemaking either preserves or enhances the character of our public spaces, making them more accessible, attractive, comfortable and safe. To be successful at this, we must understand how people use public spaces, what needs improving, and what needs to be preserved.
This is why we are reaching out to listen to the community, business and government agencies involved in land use planning. We can explore placemaking through the following themes:
Great places are inclusive of people of all ages and different levels of mobility. To make our places more inclusive, we need them to be both physically accessible and safe.
Many of NSW’s vehicle and transport infrastructure, such as train stations, were built at a time when less emphasis was placed on physical accessibility.
Through programs like the Transport Access Program and Country Passenger Transport Infrastructure Grants Scheme, we are making our trains stations, bus stops and ferries more physically accessible by incorporating ramps and lifts, lighting, family accessible toilets and better waiting areas.
Streets can often serve different purposes at different times of the day. For example, during peak hour, this means moving large volumes of vehicles as people get to work. However at other times, this same street could see high pedestrian activity such as school start and finish times.
One way to balance different street purposes is by prioritising different activities at different times of the day. We can do this by:
- adjusting speed limits for different times of the day or special events
- adjusting traffic lights to prioritise pedestrians or vehicles
- adjusting the times of the day that heavy vehicles can move through residential areas.
Another way to manage the tension between movement and place is to categorise our road network according to their primary function. We use these categories to guide who should be given priority: pedestrians, cyclists, public transport, private vehicles or heavy vehicles.
Transport infrastructure like motorways, railways, bridges and footpaths form major visual features in our cities, towns and countryside. If well designed, they can be impressive and attractive feats of engineering, which add visual interest and identity to the environment.
We can use a range of design approaches to ensure our transport infrastructure is visually sensitive to a local area, such as: greening corridors with vegetation; retaining views to protect the scenic quality of a road or a journey; and using building materials that contribute to the character of an area.
Newcastle Market Street Lawn
Market Street Lawn is a new community space at the intersection of Market and Scott streets in the city of Newcastle. Market Street Lawn has been made possible by removing the overhead pedestrian bridges and heavy rail infrastructure, and repurposing the land.
Video by UrbanGrowth NSW about the revitalisation of Newcastle’s city centre.
When the Market Street Lawn opening in December 2016 was an important moment in the Newcastle’s transformation, showing how the former heavy rail corridor can be a fantastic space for public use. There are plans to start further transformation so the community can enjoy an attractive and accessible area that connects the city to the waterfront.
Sea Cliff Bridge
The Sea Cliff Bridge is a $52 million balanced cantilever bridge located in the northern Illawarra linking coastal villages on the Lawrence Hargrave Drive. Shaped like a snake and majestically sweeping over the waters of the Pacific, it has now become one of Australia’s most photogenic experiences. The bridge’s design and engineering have enhanced the place and also ensured a more reliable transport roadway.
Transport can shape new places, whether these are undeveloped ‘greenfield’ sites or areas in transition from low to higher density.
By building new developments together with new transport services, we not only minimise congestion — but also create vibrant communities.
This is known as ‘transit-oriented development’, which generally relates to places with higher activity, such as employment centres and high-density housing, where the movements of people to and from the area is focused on the mass transit system.
Through sensitive design, the adjacent streets of transit-oriented housing or employment areas can become inviting places where people can walk or cycle to work, shops, restaurants and entertainment options.
By planning transport in conjunction with urban development we can enhance established areas to create attractive, green and liveable communities that are connected to jobs and essential services.
SYDNEY METRO NORTHWEST URBAN RENEWAL CORRIDOR
The Sydney Metro Northwest Priority Urban Renewal Corridor will see a mix of employment space and high to medium-density housing being developed around four new Sydney Metro Northwest train stations in the Hills district.
These developments will also include shops, cafes, local services and open spaces.
In addition to creating new jobs and homes for Sydney’s growing population, these developments aim to create attractive, green and liveable centres that are connected to jobs and essential services.
A future vision for the streets of Bella Vista in Sydney’s North West.
The placemaking challenge for greenfield sites, where there is little or no development, is different to placemaking in areas that are already developed.
In greenfield sites, transport is being designed for the needs of a future community, rather than responding to existing needs.
The transport services we plan to connect to new places will be fundamental to shaping what kind of place it can be — whether it can be a place for homes, schools, health services, business or recreation.
A New CITY AROUND THE FUTURE Western Sydney Airport
The NSW Government is planning a new city around the future Western Sydney Airport — known as the Western City.
While the planned centre of the Western City will be located close to the airport, the city’s boundaries will extend from Richmond in the north to Campbelltown-Macarthur in the south.
The transport decisions we make today will shape the Western City of tomorrow. These decisions will not only determine how accessible the city is for residents and workers, but will have a profound influence on the shape of the city. The location and design of roads and the type of public transport services will influence where shops and services locate, where attractive centres can emerge, and how well congestion will be managed.
Video by Australian Government Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development about Western Sydney Airport.
The NSW road and rail freight network play a vital role in supporting our economy. Over the next 40 years freight volumes could double. We will need to manage the growing impacts of noise, congestion, air pollution, and safety. This increase in freight will come through servicing a larger population, increased global trade and the shift away from “bricks and mortar” retail to online and delivery direct to customers.
Heavy vehicle freight can have noise, emission, and safety impacts on the community and residential activity. In recent years, governments and business have made large investments in alternatives to road freight including heavy rail, aviation and coastal shipping.
Quieter and cleaner transport
Electric and other low emission vehicles present significant opportunities to reduce the environmental impact of road vehicles. In addition to making our air cleaner, these vehicles are also quieter – meaning they could help make our cities and towns more attractive places.
Curfews, congestion and place
To reduce the impacts of noise, vibrations and emissions on local communities, some areas have curfews in place that prevent the movement of heavy vehicles during the evening and early morning.
However, these curfews can push freight traffic into peak periods, increasing congestion. One future solution to this issue could be the use of smaller electric and other low emission vehicles to deliver goods quietly in the evenings.
By diverting the flow of ‘through’ traffic away from a town, freight bypasses can help make these towns quieter, safer and more attractive places for local communities and visitors. However, bypasses and traffic diversions can also lead to some local businesses losing passing trade.
Balancing vehicles with pedestrians and cyclists
For many people, cycling and walking is an important part of their daily travel. Currently, walking and cycling accounts for about a third of all local trips (less than 5km).
Walking and cycling is a healthy way to experience our cities and towns. By increasing the numbers of people walking and cycling we contribute to a connectedness between people.
Making streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists
Walking and cycling can be perceived as unsafe, inconvenient and unattractive, especially in places where vehicles are prioritised over pedestrians and cyclists. This in turn means people don’t consider walking or cycling as a transport option and forces people into cars and contributes to congestion.
We can ensure safe and attractive options through approaches such as:
- separating walkways and cycle paths from roads
- prioritising pedestrians over vehicles by widening footpaths
- reducing the time pedestrians need to wait at traffic lights
- lower vehicle speed limits where high number of pedestrians and cyclists travel
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