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!

You can download the talks from the City of Sydney’s website here.

You can read more about Jan Gehl and his book “Life between Buildings” here.

and about Mr. Gehl’s report on Sydney here.

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