April 9, 2018

Car-Free Superblocks for Melbourne?

From The Age:

Melbourne’s CBD could become largely ‘car-free’ under a proposal to counter a growing pedestrian crush, and planning experts and advocates say change needs to happen soon.

Melbourne City Council is flagging the idea of having ‘superblocks’, which would remove cars from the Hoddle Grid and Docklands and prioritise pedestrians.

The idea comes from Barcelona, where superblocks have already been introduced and span nine city blocks, with speed limits reduced to 10km/h and footpaths decluttered.

The proposals are in two council discussion papers on Walking and City Space, which will inform the City of Melbourne Transport Strategy to 2050 and take examples from Dublin, Auckland and Oslo.

With 57 per cent of space in the city taken up by roads and 2016 data showing roads serve only one-third of all trips in the city, the council wants the city space to be used more effectively. …

However … cities like Melbourne are small (really, only the CBD) and relatively powerless when it comes to transportation.  The power resides with the state government, and the Premier is not persuaded:

Premier Daniel Andrews said he was “unconvinced” a pedestrian-only “superblock” would improve traffic flows or safety.

“This is a Melbourne City Council idea, I don’t want anyone getting confused that this has come from our government,” he said.

“I’m not convinced that this will improve traffic flow, I’m not convinced this would improve safety. Those two things are important.”

He said a better rail and public transport system, including the Melbourne Metro Tunnel project, was the best way to solve any traffic or pedestrian issues.

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  1. Pretty much standard these days in many continental European and some UK cities as most of them were designed well before cars existed. A major shopping and cultural attraction usually with plenty of transit or nearby parkades within a few blocks.
    Vancouver also similarly afflicted downtown like Melbourne. Why isn’t all of Robson or 2 blocks north on Alberni not a pedestrian zone yet ? Is it because the UK inspired idea of a “high street” assumes car access unlike continental Europe?

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