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Miscellaneous

Apr 7, 2017

The Urbanist Digest, Vol 1, 2017

A digest of all the topics discussed by The Urbanist in the first quarter of 2017, including transport, heritage, planning, infrastructure, design, housing, economics, cycling

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Ladies Liberty and Justice (source: The Atlantic)

Transport

Can we have a mature discussion about the future of urban transport?

With 90% of motorised travel in capital cities currently undertaken by private transport it’s time for a grown-up assessment of where to go with urban transport policy

Should public transport be “returned to the people”?

There are calls to bring management of Melbourne’s train and tram systems back under government control. Might be a good idea, but first let’s see the evidence

What’s government done to make public transport better?

A look at what successive governments have done over the last twenty or so years to improve the attractiveness of train travel in Melbourne

Is it time for a 40 kmh speed limit in cities?

It won’t be easy politically, but living with cars in Australia’s cities means “taming” them, starting with setting a default 40 kmh speed limit

What’s the future for Essendon Airport?

It didn’t take long for the blame game to emerge following yesterday’s tragedy at Essendon, but it’s better to find out what really happened and why before making policy

A proposal for a Melbourne Ring Metro

Melbourne needs an orbital or “ring” light metro linking major suburban centres to take radial trips off the road system, argues guest writer Dr Garry Glazebrook

The problem with Transurban’s proposed motorway

Guest writer Russell Smith sets out the arguments against Transurban’s proposed Western Distributor motorway in Melbourne’s inner west

Heritage

Does this building tell us much about social history?

Preserving the built fabric of old buildings conveys little about their social and cultural history; it should be mandatory that protection comes with interpretation

Planning

Will population growth ruin a city’s liveability?

Population growth brings risks and will change the character of a city like Melbourne if it continues, but it’s more likely to make it a better place for most residents

Why do inner suburban residents oppose development?

Existing residents oppose major developments because they feel they’ll be worse off. The benefits to them are vague while the costs are clear and painful

Is regional sprawl better than suburban sprawl?

There’s a strong push to divert more metropolitan growth to regional cities, but the case hasn’t been made that capital cities are “too big” or that it’s the best strategy

Is Plan Melbourne really, actually…a plan?

It’s taken since 2014 to prepare, but despite the name, the “refresh” of Plan Melbourne doesn’t deliver on its most basic pretension; it’s not really a plan!

Is sprawl still the number one bogeyman?

Sprawl was the headline city planning issue for more than half a century, but it’s salience has faded over recent decades. Urban policy-makers need to reassess their priorities

City vs sprawl: is this a useful comparison?

This comparison by ABC News of living in the city centre with living in the fringe suburbs is long but it’s ultimately unconvincing; it doesn’t compare apples with apples

Infrastructure

Australia needs a massive infrastructure fund

It’s time to facilitate $200 billion investment in key infrastructure projects like inland freight rail and a national electricity grid, argues guest writer Dr Garry Glazebrook

A proposal for a National Electricity Plan

We need to respond to Australia’s electricity crisis with a comprehensive National Electricity Plan argues guest writer Dr Garry Glazebrook

Behaviour

Can design make cities safer for women?

A new project shows the urban geography of harassment and assault suffered by women at the hands of men. The scope for design to mitigate offensive male behaviour is limited

Connectivity isn’t the same as social connection

Increased connection via walking and cycling paths sounds great but it can erode social connection, argues guest writer Dr Brenda Mackie; it’s not a guarantee of ‘liveability

Housing

Will these changes seriously improve affordability?

The Victorian government says “it’s tackling housing affordability head on”, but its new housing initiatives are mostly about keeping up appearances

Economics

Is this week’s Grand Prix worth the cost?

Victorian taxpayers will spend around $60 million subsidising this year’s Grand Prix and a further $360 million to the end of the current contract. Time to share the cost

Cycling

How dangerous is cycling?

Statistically, cycling is much safer than prospective riders imagine, but it’s what they imagine that matters; it still seems too dangerous to generate widespread uptake

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