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The Forum > Article Comments > Planning’s cultural cringe? > Comments

Planning’s cultural cringe? : Comments

By Ross Elliott, published 21/6/2010

Advocates of higher density and the 'brawl against sprawl' in Australia frequently cite overseas cities as model case studies.

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I do wish planners would stop talking about increasing density as the way to encourage public transport usage. This is nonsense. Read Paul Mees latest book "Transport for Suburbia" which shows, throughout the world, that viable public transport has little to do with population density.

It is very easy to get viable public transport that will account for 80% of trips. All we have to do is to provide a network of routes that run at regular intervals at the same time, to the same places every fifteen or less minutes. We then provide parking spaces or pedestrian walkways that people can easily get on the transport and we will have a system that works and pays for itself. People adjust their daily trips to fit the transport system.

We can finance the building of the network with interest free loans distributed to the community who have to - in turn - invest the money in the network to give them the best return on their investments. This will not cost the government anything as the loans are given to the riders of public transport who repay from the fares they pay when they use the system.
Posted by Fickle Pickle, Monday, 21 June 2010 11:16:24 AM
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One the subject of the previous post and Paul Mees's book - I haven't read the book but I've read an article that was hyped in a similar way. In fact the article showed that you can have reasonable density and lousy public transport (I think he gave plenty of examples), but, as I recall, he didn't give any examples of places which have typical Australian densities _and_ good public transport.

So he said nothing to contradict the notion that the service levels described by Fickle Pickle are too expensive in low density areas such as the suburbs of Australian (or American) cities.
Posted by jeremy, Monday, 21 June 2010 12:41:11 PM
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Sorry, but cities ARE going to have to start growing UP instead of OUTWARD- as much inconvenience to the profits of low-rise housing developers (like the author) it would be. Sydney is WAY too large already (currently 12144.6 km˛ - even Berlin is only 891.82 km2- and for Europe, that's huge)

All it would take:
1- Focus only on the ALREADY urbanized major-road/trainline areas with existing highrise (Meadowbank, West Ryde, basically most along Victoria Road) and simply replace some of the tall-ish buildings due for demolition with taller ones, or convert office space into apartment space.
2- Use of non-profit public entities to produce the buildings to lower prices, thus making them actually affordable (Drommoyne)
3- Design actually ensures enough space to live in without being a shoebox (it's not like there are so desperate spacial limitations, plus all above examples)
4- Layout ensures that pedestrian access connects close to any major roads (public transport routes to be precise) it is connected to- but vehicle access does NOT, but instead to the next street behind (thus ensuring major roads become more efficient)- arterial roads must be given more space also.

Also, I should point out the obvious disingeneousness of trying to cite vehicular logistics into the equation- as wider urban sprawl directly worsens ALL forms of transport, as more roads are suburban streets, and more people OUT of the way and less likely to get public transport must fight over road space in their cars.

Therefore, my solution is cheaper, more practical, and everyone wins (except Ross), the high-rise are actually in a place they belong, and the rest of the city benefits from better access.
Posted by King Hazza, Monday, 21 June 2010 1:50:26 PM
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Jeremy you are going to have to read the book because Mees shows cities with lower densities than Australian Cities with high usage of public transport.
Posted by Fickle Pickle, Monday, 21 June 2010 2:11:34 PM
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