By Chelsea Cucinotta
In the last 20 years, the City of Melbourne has turned 80 hectares of asphalt into open space in a bid to make the city more pedestrian-friendly.
International cities like Oslo, Brussels and Madrid have implemented similar strategies, restricting the access of vehicles in city areas.
Cbus Property chief executive Adrian Pozzo spoke recently at The Australian’s Better Cities forum, where he shared his vision of a carless CBD by the year 2030.
Whether a car free city will transpire is “questionable” for executive officer of Victoria Walks, Ben Rossiter.
“Melbourne is lagging behind. The state government has to start getting involved and needs to show leadership about what they want the city to become,” he said. “It’s about the most efficient move of people and not vehicles.”
Mr Rossiter told CBD News that a reallocation of road space was needed in pedestrian-heavy areas like Southern Cross and Flinders Street stations.
“At the moment, pedestrians cannot move quickly, effectively or safely in these areas.”
Mr Rossiter also suggested Elizabeth St should become a pedestrian thoroughfare from Queen Victoria Market to Flinders Street Station, and that “little” streets like Little Collins Street should become 20 kmh shared zones, with priority given to pedestrians.
Under such models, “pedestrians could walk blocks and blocks in the city”.
“We need people to be physically active and walking. It makes everyone happier and healthier,” he said.
Deputy Lord Mayor Arron Wood told CBD News that the council was committed to combatting congestion in city areas, and prioritises walking, cycling and public transport.
“Our priority is grabbing under-utilised space, and making it into new green, open space,” Cr Wood said.
Cr Wood said that closing off Swanston St to traffic was a successful redesign of the space, and that the Southbank Boulevard project would bring an additional 2.5 hectares of open, public space to Melburnians and visitors alike.
“The friendlier our city is to walk in, the better it is for commerce. People will spend more time in the city, making it not only better for liveability, but for our thriving city economy.”