Are Car-Free Cities Viable in Australia?

sydney car freeFor a variety of reasons, several European cities have moved to restrict the use of cars. Oslo, Norway, plans to restrict cars from the downtown area by 2019. Officials hope that will help to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent compared with 1990 levels.

Madrid, Spain, has encouraged pedestrians and bicyclists by banning auto usage on more than two dozen streets since 2015, though residents are still allowed to drive on some streets. The city has plans to expand the no-car boundaries substantially.

Sydney offers some positive examples. The city’s plans for the CBD, announced in 2012, aim to make light rail travel quicker and easier than driving a car while also reducing the number of buses needed. Part of the scheme is the pedestrian focus on George Street, which is closed to cars between Hunter and Bathurst streets. The city also stepped up with its Walking Strategy and Action Plan, which aims to increase on-foot commuter trips, reduce auto-pedestrian collisions by 50 per cent, and improve amenities such as footpaths.

Currently, about 63 per cent of trips to Sydney’s CBD are done with transit, about 25 per cent by car, and 10 per cent on foot. The NSW government predicts that bus and car vehicle miles travelled will decrease as people switch to light rail. In addition, the light rail line will cut CO2 emissions by 700,000 tonnes over 30 years.

Limiting automobile usage also has strong potential for reducing pedestrian and cyclist deaths and injuries. The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development tallied 204 pedestrian deaths and 33 cyclist deaths in 2015.

Besides a reduction in pollution and fatalities, there could be economic benefits too. According to one study in Melbourne of how drivers spend money compared to cyclists, the cyclists come out far ahead, outspending their motorist peers by more than $10 per hour ($27 to $16.20.)

Furthermore, because cars take up far more space – six bikes can fit in one parking space designed for a car – that number is even greater. To read more click here.

The 9th International Urban Design Conference will be held at Hyatt Canberra from Monday 7th-8th November 2016 with optional tours available on Wednesday 9th November.

Registrations are now open. CLICK HERE to register for the Conference.

This years’ theme, Smart Cities for 21st Century Australia – How urban design innovation can change our cities”  will focus on an understanding of what makes a city ‘smart’ from a urban design perspective and how the built environment develops during the city planning process.

Authors or organisations interested in presenting at the 9th International Urban Design Conference are invited to submit an abstract. To submit an abstract CLICK HERE.

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