Where will the cars and the parking spaces go?

A guest
post from PCI’s Managing Partner Cristina Lynn

A couple of days after the conclusion of the
12th Australian Parking Convention, a lively debate took place at the Sydney
Town Hall as part of the City Talks 2010 series. Hosted by the Lord Mayor
Clover Moore, the talk on Thursday 11th November was titled “World
Class Streets – Transforming city streets into vital public spaces”
The guest speaker was Janette Sadik-Khan, Commissioner of New York City’s
Transport Department. Her role in the transformation of New York City’s streets
from congested, vehicle laden danger spots into pedestrian and cyclist oases,
bordered by outdoor cafes and public seating is nothing short of miraculous.

Ms Sadik-Khan’s presentation was followed by a
panel discussion on how the NYC findings could be applied to Sydney, which
included the Hon. David Borger BEc MP Minister for Roads & Minister for
Western Sydney, Matthew Moore, Urban Affairs Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald,
John Choi, Architect, Choi Ropiha Fighera and Gail Connolly, Executive Manager
– Transforming Sydney, City of Sydney.

I strongly urge you to listen to the Lord
Mayor’s introduction, Ms Sadik-Khan’s presentation and the ensuing panel
discussion. All in all you will need to set aside around one hour of your time,
although the talks can be downloaded to your favourite MP player so you can
listen to them while you are stuck in traffic somewhere….

New York implemented many of the
recommendations made in a study by Jan Gehl, a practicing Urban Design
Consultant and Professor of Urban Design at the School of Architecture in
Copenhagen, Denmark. It appears that Mr. Gehl went to New York following the
completion of a similar study carried out in Sydney in 2007. While the New York
project is already well into the implementation stage we in Sydney are still at
the “talking about” stage, although a number of initiatives have been started,
particularly the building of a 200km cycle network.

I was particularly struck by the fact that in
none of the presentations there was any reference to where cars fit into the
plans and changes for our cities. Even more interestingly, I wonder what will
happen to the over 18,000 off-street public parking spaces and 30,000 tenant
parking spaces in the Sydney CBD as more and more streets become closed to
traffic. It seems to me that just by ignoring vehicles they will not just
disappear and indeed will make congestion in the roads which remain open to
traffic even worse!

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