Planning our Streets to Enable Successful Journeys and Create Great Places

We need to create vibrant streets that balance the priorities of the people who use them.

Streets are not only for motorists, they are for people, cyclists, freight and taxi drivers as well as public transport users. They are also a catalyst for connecting communities and providing access to essential services and social amenities.

 

Mary Haverland, WSP’s Technical Executive in our Integrated Transport Planning team, has been involved in the development of ‘Movement and Place’ (a.k.a. ‘Link and Place’) methods in road network planning since its early applications in London, and the more recent adoption and evolution in Australasian cities.

 

She says, ‘Unlike the scope of a traditional road/network plan, a Movement and Place plan examines the road corridor from building line to building line, not just kerb to kerb, and considers a street’s placemaking activities as well as its mobility needs.

 

“A strategic approach to road network planning is imperative to the successful design, operation and management of our streets, which are our cities’ most valuable public assets.”

 

Demystifying Movement and Place

With the advent of motorised transport in the early 20th century, our streets were designed for movement. In conjunction with the zoned approach to land use planning, road design focused on segregating people and places from transport. Towards the end of the 90s, the focus shifted back to people-centric design philosophies which saw the adoption of a modal hierarchy with pedestrians at the helm of high foot traffic and/or low movement streets such as residential and high streets. However, for heavily trafficked streets and long-distance routes (such as our primary arterial roads and highways), the preferential road classification remained focused on vehicular movement.

 

In 2004, the European Union ran a project called ‘Artists – Arterial Streets for People’ which brought together—for the first time—the needs of movement and place in street design. In 2007, the UK Department of Transport broke ground with its guide ‘Manual for Streets’ which explored design, construction, adoption and maintenance of new and existing residential streets in the context of dual transit and placemaking activities by the promotion of a Movement and Place Matrix. Further to this, Transport for London trialled the approach in its Network Management Planning program, which later evolved into the London Road Taskforce.

 

From Multi-Modal to Multi-User

A Movement and Place framework considers the varying journey and placemaking needs of all customers at different locations on our road network.

 

“It also shifts focus to the street environment and the idea that place can change as you move along a corridor; and by time of day, week and year,” adds Ms Haverland.

 

“This broadens the traditional multi-modal transport approach which focuses on customer needs like journey time and peak hour reliability for each mode. It can also include broader needs such as pedestrian environment, transit stops, car parking, loading spaces and end of trip cycle facilities within the road corridor.”

 

Defining Place in our Movement Networks

Ultimately, the movement function is determined by the role the road plays within the network to move local, regional or long distances and reflects modal priorities of all groups, while the place function is determined by the level and likelihood of pedestrian activity. Defining the latter within our streets has been a challenge for Australian jurisdictions adopting the Movement and Place approach.

 

“The magnetism of land use is a large factor in generating placemaking activity at the street level,” says Ms Haverland. “It is also the result of travel demand management and urban design.

 

“While a large Metro station or big box developments may attract people from all over a city, the surrounding streets will have little placemaking activity if access is largely by private car in conjunction with off street parking. In comparison, a local train station or string of small shops and cafes will attract fewer people from the local suburb; yet the level of pedestrian activity in the street may be far greater. If there is an active frontage with synergy between the shops and people; walking, cycling and public transport will be popular.

 

“We have found the application of Movement and Place to be invaluable in communicating the type of street environments and precincts we want in the future with project teams, stakeholders and the community.”

 

An Evidenced-Based Approach

The foundation of the Movement and Place framework rests on being evidence-based, backed by data that brings benchmarked performance to the decision-making table.

 

“The greatest hurdle is finding a consistent and large data set,” explains Ms Haverland. “Cities such as London have been undertaking Movement and Place studies for more than a decade, and have robust, classified data sets.

 

“While we have good vehicle and movement data sets locally, people and place data—at a network level—is traditionally hard to come by.

 

“However, with the emergence of big data sets, the evidence-based approach to planning is becoming more common and being used to support the decision-making process.”

 

An Evolving Future

While global influences in movement and place are evident; local adoption of best practice and common frameworks is enabling Australasian jurisdictions to benchmark themselves against other comparable world cities.

 

“We are now seeing the results of the practical applications of the Movement and Place framework for strategic planning, performance assessment, precinct design as well as business case development in local cities such as Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland,” says Ms Haverland.

 

“The next step is to support communities and decision makers so that the Movement and Place framework can be used to enable successful people-centred, evidence-based design and operation of our road networks.”

 

Mary Haverland is a speaker at this year’s Australian Institute of Traffic Planning and Management Conference running 24–27 July 2018 at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre. She will deliver a session entitled, ‘Movement and Place: The ANZ Experience’ on Wednesday 25 July from 2.45pm.

 

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