Walking is often overlooked as a serious mode of transport as cities focus on vehicle based transport. The City of Melbourne Walking Plan positions walking as the primary mode of transport in the city. It established walking connectivity as being a key driver of the knowledge economy and determined that a ten per cent increase in walking connectivity would add $2.1 billion to the economy.
Melbourne is Victoria’s economic engine room and enjoys a vibrant social and cultural scene. Around 840,000 people pass through our city daily. This is likely to rise to more than 1.2 million by 2030. The City of Melbourne is responding to this growth with considered strategies for transport, land use and community services.
The City of Melbourne’s Walking Plan is part of an integrated approach to transport, outlined in the City of Melbourne Transport Strategy 2012. It links all modes and is coordinated with city development and urban renewal.
Melbourne is a walking city with most trips to, from and within the city starting or ending on foot. In 2010, 66 per cent of trips within the municipality were walking trips. This figure is even higher in the CBD with 86 per cent of trips being on foot.
The purpose of the Walking Plan is to highlight the contribution that walking makes to the city municipality, while and laying out a practical plan to improve the city’s walking network and encourage more walking.
It establishes principles for planning walking in the city including priority access, safety, access for all abilities, planning for future growth, creating attractive walking environments, permeability and reducing delay to pedestrians.
The actions in the plan are grouped in three streams:
Planning: amending the Melbourne Planning Scheme to improve the walking environment.
Street management: changing traffic signal operation to reduce delays to pedestrians; increasing the number of pedestrian streets and shared zones; and improving legibility and way finding.
Capital works: extensive master planning; access around tram and bus stops; and increasing the number of road crossings.
The City of Melbourne Walking Plan has reinforced that walking is the primary mode of transport and that it is essential to the daily functioning of the city. The plan has also established the role of the walking economy and determined that the walking network is a significant contributor to the overall economy of Central Melbourne. It found that a 10 per cent increase in the connectivity of the pedestrian network in the City would add $2.1 billion to the City of Melbourne’s economy.
The Walking Plan moved beyond previous approaches that treated pedestrians as a road safety concern or on the fringe of mainstream transport planning. It has elevated the benefits of walking beyond those offered by walking as sustainable or active transport.
The Walking Plan addresses the impact of traffic signals on pedestrian delay and examines ways they can be optimised. Traffic signals in the city are part of a highly coordinated and adaptive system. Delays to pedestrians can be reduced but there is not a broad understanding of how traffic signals work outside the traffic engineering sector. The Walking Plan investigated in a detailed way how traffic signals can be optimised for pedestrians in the central city and presented this to the public in an accessible way.
For the first time the Walking Plan also specifies a fine-grained pedestrian network including through-block links by using the Planning Scheme. A fine-grained walking network reduces walking distances and travel times and has been a goal of the City of Melbourne for many years. It would shorten walking distances, increase the amount of street frontage leading to business and job opportunities, creating more intersections and offering more route choices and provide alternatives to crowded routes.
Implementation was a primary consideration from the outset and has already started to deliver benefits. Branches and departments of the City of Melbourne were consulted during the development of the actions in the plan, broad acceptance and buy in was achieved resulting in several actions commencing within existing budgets the same financial year. Many more have implementation due in 2015/16.