Principal Pedestrian Networks methodology provides a platform for strategic pedestrian network planning by local governments. It identifies parts of the existing urban fabric which cater for the highest pedestrian movements and improves the quality of those environments. Resulting in high quality environments on the shortest possible route, thereby encouraging and increasing walking.
The Principal Pedestrian Network Demonstration Project (PPND) aimed to test and trial the application of the methodology. The project successfully provided ‘proof of concept’ for the Principal Pedestrian Networks methodology. In partnership with four local governments, City of Greater Geelong, Yarra Ranges Council, Frankston City Council and City of Boroondara, and project participants Victoria Walks and Melbourne University, the department submitted a successful application for funding under the Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, Liveable Cities Program. The project was completed in June 2014. Prior to the demonstration project, project partners stated that their decisions around prioritisation of pedestrian infrastructure investment were largely ad-hoc and/or reactive. They tended to respond to and deliver projects in response to community complaints. Several other local governments have indicated that this is also the case within their municipality. The PPN approach allows any local government to develop, identify and designate a network and use this as their strategic framework for prioritising spending and work.
Principal Pedestrian Networks is and will continue to be an ongoing catalyst for change. A more strategic approach to planning for and delivery of pedestrian infrastructure, based on a consistent methodology, has considerable potential to result in broad and sustained improvement in the health of Victorians. The Victorian state government has adopted this approach to strategic planning for walking. This will provide an impetus for local governments to adopt a more strategic approach to planning their pedestrian infrastructure and as a result catalyse positive improvements in health over the medium to long term, providing increased opportunities to walk.
As a result of the demonstration project and the communication of project partner experiences a number of other local governments, including Darebin City Council, City of Melbourne, and City of Whittlesea have embarked on developing their own Principal Pedestrian Networks. The partner local governments who participated in the project have all applied the PPN pedestrian network planning approach to other activity centres beyond the sites included in the demonstration project.
Public space improvements delivered under the project include the first shared space for Frankston City Council, a variety of pedestrian priority improvements in Yarra Ranges such as an innovative roundabout design and way finding signage, and the reallocation of road space to provide for pedestrians accessing a train station in Boroondara and many kilometres of footpaths in the City of Greater Geelong. Beyond the public realm improvements and behaviour change, the project also achieved a range of positive outcomes varying from increased numbers of people walking, strategic prioritisation of pedestrian projects, and increased capital works funding for pedestrian infrastructure.
Yarra Ranges found an increase of 37% in people walking along an improved PPN route while Boroondara found a 20% increase in people walking along the Cookson Street corridor.
Yarra Ranges objectively measured a 32% increase in walking for transport in the project catchment. This represents an annual health benefit in reduced mortality of approximately $8,000. (Calculated using World Health Organisation HEAT model). The components of the project cost $158,000, which represent a benefit: cost ratio of 2.38:1 over the 50 year life of the footpath discounted at 3%p.a. The City of Boroondara have calculated a benefit cost ratio for their project works, also calculated using the World Health Organisation HEAT model, found benefit: cost ratios of 6.1 for their Cookson Street footpath works and a benefit: cost ratio of 14.1 for their Camberwell Road works.
Images courtesy of Yarra Ranges Council, City of Frankston, City of Boroondara and Tract Consutants