Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Good for business

In the news at the moment is Adelaide City Council's Integrated Movement Strategy. If you like the idea of slower, more civilised streets, better public transport, cycling infrastructure and less valuable public land being handed over practically free of charge for the storage of a few cars, you will love it. It can be downloaded from the council's website and you are invited to comment on it.

Some of the reporting has regrettably focused on the proposed plans about on-street car parking. The proposal is to reduce it and to charge a proper fee in busy areas. When you consider how valuable the land is, handing it over for a nominal fee for the storage of only a few cars is a pretty silly use for it.

One person who opposes it is Business SA chief executive Peter Vaughan. Speaking on behalf of businesses, he describes the new strategy as "an ideological jaunt and bad for business. He is wrong of course. This is something we have heard before. Listen to any speech by Jan Gehl and he will tell you that was exactly the response in Copenhagen all those years ago when that city embarked on this path. It did not take long for the measures to have a positive effect and led to other businesses asking for the same pedestrian friendly policies to be applied to their streets. I'm willing to bet a puncture repair kit the same thing will happen here.

At the moment, on street parking in the city is either free (generally for a limited number of hours) or it is paid. There is plenty of it though. Pulteney Street is a busy north south thoroughfare through the city. For most of it, it has two lanes each side and on street parking. For parts of it, there is a small space between the parked cars and traffic where a bicycle stencil is painted.

Between Angas and Wakefield Street, all of that on-street parking doesn't appear to have helped the businesses anyway. I took a couple of photos on the way to work the other day. For that whole stretch, only three businesses are still operating. The rest is empty shop fronts. One of the functioning businesses is a tailor who has been there for a while. The others, ironically, are both bike shops - JT Cycles and the Classic Bike Shop:

It is a wide noisy road and not the sort of place that anyone would want to walk down or stop on. There is a lot of traffic passing through but it is doing just that - passing. If you devote all of that space to cars and concentrate on smoothing traffic flow, that is inevitably what happens.

Incidentally, the Integrated Movement Strategy is brilliant. Have a read of it. If all of the proposals could be realised, it would transform Adelaide. It includes not only measures to improve things for cyclists and pedestrians ubt has plans for tram extensions and underground railways.

And while we're on the subject, the new head of the Urban Renewal Authority is Fred Hansen who is a recent Thinker In Residence and the man credited with transforming public transport in Portland, Oregon.



  1. Steve Scanlan9 May 2012 at 15:03

    Speaking of Jan Gehl, this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rstEWMD89L8 , mentions the before/after attitude of business owners you wrote of. There is a word of warning though about having a grand plan. The advice is that a grand plan will get you un-elected because no-one will believe it's possible. Recommended is "a little each year, for 40 years."

  2. Great link. Thank you. Says it all in 9 minutes.