Walking toward a new city structure

Walking toward a new city structure

When thinking about walking in the context within Marrickville Local Government area we looked at removing impediments or barriers to walking:

Is there a reason to walk? Give me a reason to walk.
Is it nice to walk? Make it comfortable to walk.
Can I walk there? Make it easy to get around.
Are there people around, do I feel safe? Improve activation and safety.

JMD Design, Sydney, Australia

The Strategy for Marrickville’s Public Domain considers the design of streets, public spaces, plazas and village centres. The aim is to strengthen the identity of the centres, improve function, sustainability, connectivity, legibility, activation and ensure the public domain is used and valued by all members of the Marrickville community. The Public Domain Strategy recognises the diverse character of Marrickville’s public domain and the role the public domain plays in placemaking contributing to quality of life and the benefits it brings in sustaining a healthy and socially just community.

The Strategy outlines the improvements needed to ensure a safer, more comfortable and attractive walking and cycling environment that will encourage more people to actively enjoy Marrickville’s public spaces and facilitate an active transport network. A comprehensive engagement program that involved the community early in the project to understand the values that were important to them and to test initial thoughts on the priorities for the strategy. Based on this engagement the principles for the strategy were confirmed which in turn informed master plans for each of the centres.

The strategy aims to deliver initiatives in the following key areas:
Principle 1 Reveal the Place (Placemaking) - enhance pedestrian experience in centres and improve legibility and wayfinding – Give me reason to walk.
Principle 2 Greening the City (Sustainable City) – improving amenity to create places to walk with shade and amenity – Make it comfortable to walk.
Principle 3 Make it easier to get around (Connectivity) – making places accessible (particularly in centres), planning for additional Pedestrian and Bicycle linkages throughout Marrickville, improving legibility and wayfinding and enhancing pedestrian and cyclist safety – Make it easy to get around.
Principle 4 Making places for life (Liveability) – activation and street life encourages further activation and habitation of the public domain and enhances safety – Improve activation and safety.

The Public Domain Study will help to transform many visions into one long-term view for designing, planning and managing our public places and spaces with a focus on creating safe, walkable environments. The study will help us to create and maintain places and spaces that are easy to get to and promote a sense of community.

Challenges to be reconciled to improve walkability include;
Making spaces to walk
_Competition for priority & space between People + Green + Business Activity + Bikes + Cars
Make it easier to walk
_Unobstructed travel along footpaths may require relocation of outdoor dining, trading and advertising signage.
_Reduced speed limits and an increase in the number of pedestrian crossings may create minor increases to vehicle travel times.
_An increase in the number of pedestrian crossings may add to traffic congestion
Making places for life
_Footpath widening vs parking
_Narrow road corridors and verges may restrict ability to separate bicycle lanes
Green the city
_Continuous awnings and overhead wirings along commercial areas limit planting of street trees
_Relocation of tree planting in the parking lane will improve accessibility on the footpath but may impact on configuration of parking.
Decision making for walking
_Changing priorities - people before cars and other modes in decision making
_Multiple government agencies may have competing priorities
The project demonstrates that a whole of place approach is essential to reshaping existing cities that are transitioning to walkable, people focused cities. By understanding the use of connected public domain through urban areas and how people inhabit these places we can use walking and pedestrian activity as a catalyst for directing changes in urban form. This study asserts that by inversing our decision making process a fundamental shift in the urban form of our cities will occur.

Project Links


JMD Design, Sydney, Australia

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