A large proportion of Australians live in cities.
Our cities are shaped by where people live, work, learn, shop and play and how they travel around.
Integrating land use and transport is also vital to sustaining the economy, social interaction and minimising the impact on the environment.
On the other hand the efficiency and effectiveness of transport in moving people and freight depends on thoughtful land use planning and developing a balanced and integrated transport system. Transport connectivity is critical to ensure the best use of community resources.
The Smart Growth approach aims to improve the quality of life in communities, with an emphasis on sustainability. A key to smart growth is reducing the overall socio-economic cost of transport infrastructure and services., including planning for freight.
This requires both transport and planing professionals to plan for appropriate transport options, to reduce the need to travel, reduce the number and length of trips and reduce car dependance. And look to alternative means of funding, such as value capture.
Roads are a dominant and important component of public infrastructure in cities. Not only do roads provide for traffic, public transport, freight, cycling and walking, they are also provide the essential right of way for water, electricity and communications services.
There are often debates about the merits of building roads – but this is misguided. Roads cater for many modes – by far the greatest proportion of public transport in most Australian cities is carried by bus.
The questions that need to be considered should be: How much capacity os required? How should road space be allocated and managed? What design features should be considered for modal priorities and desired liveability?
Planners need to coordinate land use and road planning, considering the total transport system required. Tools such as road hierarchy and design features can reinforce the broader functions of roads and streets.
Road hierarchies enable the consideration of the competing roles of transport – mobility vs access. In the 1970’s the new paradigm emerged in the US of ‘complete streets’ which puts people first.
This is based on the key premise that communities should be places for people and roads and streets are shared thoroughfares and need to cater for the broader community needs, not just moving traffic. Victoria’s Smartroads program is a recent example of the application of these concepts.