In commissioning this work, Council has recognised the importance of the pedestrian environment in relation to its strategic aims. These include a commitment to sustainability, obligations to provide for safe and dignified mobility and the importance of the pedestrian environment to Melbourne’s reputation as a desirable place to visit, live and work. Many pedestrian environments in the central city area are the result of many years of uncoordinated and incremental development.
It is unsurprising that the places created by this process may not measure up when judged against new expectations and legal requirements relating to issues such as accessibility. A cornerstone of the research undertaken were custom-designed ‘walkability audits’. These were done during daylight hours and at night by urban designer/traffic engineer teams, providing very detailed information of the study areas from different professional viewpoints at a footstep by footstep scale.
Consultation included VicUrban, RMIT, Residents 3000 and the Inner Melbourne Road Safety Council. The analysis and concepts produced covered issues of both an urban design and traffic engineering nature. The resulting recommendations ranged from significant alterations to the city fabric, such as creating a forecourt to the north entrance of Flinders Street Station at the corner of Elizabeth and Flinders Streets, down to details such as adjusting placement of street furniture to reduce obstructions to pedestrian movement.
The Australian Award jury noted ‘the importance of having rigorous research underpin urban design policy and practice’. The study has also been well-received by the City of Melbourne, which is are working toward implementation works related to the findings and recommendations.