Posts Tagged ‘Pedestrianisation’

Pedestrianising the suburbs

Posted: September 18, 2016 in Urban planning
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VIDEO: Perth Busport (TransperthOnline)

The Committee for Sydney recently tweeted about the importance of dense intersections in creating better quality urban areas. Small blocks with frequent intersections improve pedestrian movement and lead to better experiences, whereas larger blocks with fewer intersections do the opposite.

In suburban areas, cul-de-sacs often have the effect of calming traffic on the streets, but with the negative side effect of hindering mobility by foot. It effectively forces individuals into their cars in order to get around.

But that is not always the case. Below is a map of Baulkham Hills, the neighbouring suburb to Winston Hills (second from the right in the Committee for Sydney tweet above). The two suburbs are separated by the M2, seen on the right half of the bottom edge of the image below. There are 2 main roads running North-South on either side of the image, with the connecting streets often ending in quiet cul-de-sacs. The 2 main roads, together with the M2, are also where bus routes provide public transport for this area.

The focal point is the small park in the centre of the image. It has 3 cul-de-sacs surrounding it, two to the North (above) and one to the East (right). This park has pathways connecting the park to each of these sul-de-sacs, as well as to the other street just to the West (left), which are all accessible by pedestrians but not to cars.

Satellite image of Baulkham Hills. Click to enlarge. (Source: Google Maps.)

Satellite image of Baulkham Hills. Click to enlarge. (Source: Google Maps.)

Someone in the cul-de-sac to the East would ordinarily be quite isolated. The map below shows the same area, with a red spot showing that particular cul-de-sac and the blue areas shows everywhere accessible within 400m using only streets. This is equivalent to a 5 minute walk and reaches neither of the 2 roads where the buses operate.

As can be seen, it does not provide much coverage and it is this sort of urban design that leads many suburban residents to abandon walking or even public transport in favour of their private car to get around.

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Green areas are accessible only by pedestrians. All areas accessible within 400m of the red spot if only streets are used is shown in blue; if pedestrian only areas are included then all areas accessible within 400m is shown in blue/green/yellow. Click to enlarge. (Source: Open Street Map.)

This is where the park comes in to play. By linking up the 4 surrounding streets, it massively enhances the areas accessible within 400m. An additional 3 pedestrian walkways, also shown in green, provide further access. So the actual areas accessible on foot can be seen in green and yellow as well as the initial blue on accessible by streets only. This has the added benefit of extending the areas within 400m to both the roads where buses operate.

By providing these pedestrian links, the urban design achieves the dual goals of quiet suburban street with limited traffic as well as easy and convenient pedestrian access to a large catchment.

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VIDEO: Ancient river system discovered under Sydney Harbour, 23 September 2015 (Transport for NSW)

This week sees a large number of changes to the Sydney CBD. Though it ended the week with the most significant: the closure of George Street to buses, it began the week with some changes too: the opening and closing of bike paths through the CBD. New bus lanes have been added on Elizabeth Street while another bus lane is soon coming to College Street.

George Street

Construction of the CBD and South East Light Rail will commence on George Street on 23 October, at which point the road will become progressively closed off to all vehicular traffic. It will eventually re-open as a pedestrian only street, with trams on George Street taking passengers from early 2019.

In anticipation of this closure, buses are being removed from George Street as of 4 October. Some will terminate outside of the CBD or on its fringe (including some buses that do not use George Street), while others will be moved to Elizabeth street or are merged with other buses so that they will now through-route in the CBD and come out the other end.

Elizabeth Street

In order to accommodate the additional buses using Elizabeth Street, the bus lanes on it have been moved from kerbside bus lanes to centre bus lanes. This will prevent buses from getting stuck behind other buses waiting at bus stops or getting stuck behind cars waiting to make a left hand turn. These had previously slowed down buses that would otherwise enjoy an exclusive right of way.

Bus lanes on Elizabeth Street have been extended and moved from kerbside bus lanes to centre bus lanes to increase bus capacity on them. Click to enlarge. (Source: Author.)

Bus lanes on Elizabeth Street have been extended and moved from kerbside bus lanes to centre bus lanes to increase bus capacity on them. Click to enlarge. (Source: Author.)

College Street

The College Street bike path is no more. It is to be replaced with a bus lane. This will allow additional Northbound bus capacity now that George Street is no longer available. Additional Southbound bus capacity exists on the Castlereagh Street bus lane, while Elizabeth Street has two way bus lanes.

The bike path on College Street remained open until the Castlereagh Street and Liverpool Street bike paths opened, which now provide North-South access through the CBD. Cyclist groups have protested the removal of the College Street bike path, pointing out that the Castlereagh Street bike path stops at Liverpool Street, which is the same place the College Street bike path starts; also pointing out that the York Street bike path is on opposite side of the CBD to the College Street bike path.

The College Street bike path is now closed and set to be turned into a bus lane. It has been controversially replaced by bike paths on Castlereagh and Liverpool Streets. Click to enlarge. (Source: Author.)

The College Street bike path is now closed and set to be turned into a bus lane. It has been controversially replaced by bike paths on Castlereagh and Liverpool Streets. Click to enlarge. (Source: Author.)

Plans are in place to extend the Castlereagh Street bike path further north; but these plans have been put on hold until 2019, after construction on the light rail has been completed.

Castlereagh Street and Liverpool Street

New bike paths opened on Castlereagh and Liverpool Streets, replacing the College Street bike path. Together with Belmore Park near Central Station and the York Street bike path on the Northern half of the CBD, these now allow bike users to ride from Central Station to the Harbour Bridge entirely segregated from road traffic.

The full CBD bike path network will include an extension of the Castlereagh Street bike path to King Street, which would also see its existing bike path extended from where it currently ends at Clarence Street. However, work on this portion of the bike path network, as well as other extensions such as a bike path North along Pitt Street to Circular Quay or a bike path West along Liverpool Street to Darling Harbour, has been put on hold until 2019 to minimise disruptions  while construction on the light rail on George Street occurs.

Sydney's planned bike path network. Some has been completed, the rest is on hold until 2019 when light rail construction is completed. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW, Sydney City Centre Access Strategy, p. 45)

Sydney’s planned bike path network. Some has been completed, the rest is on hold until 2019 when light rail construction is completed. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW, Sydney City Centre Access Strategy, p. 45)

There have also been concerns raised about potential plans for loading zones on these bike paths, turning them into what has been called “part time” bike paths. The new bike paths have also drawn criticism for ending one block short of two way traffic on Liverpool Street, requiring East bound bike riders on Liverpool Street to dismount or take alternative routes along Bathurst or Campbell Streets.

Open Drum – The Daily Commute

ABC Open is taking contributions on the topic of “the daily commute”. The deadline for contributions is midday Tuesday 9 June.

“Tell us about your daily commute. What are the joys and challenges? How does it impact your life or your family? Would improved public transport, affordable accommodation near workplaces or better roads help? Whatever happened to telecommuting? Do you have a survival tip or utopian vision for policy makers? Share your story and opinions in 350-700 words.”

1 May: Rail line to Badgerys Creek downplayed

Suggestions for a fast rail service between Badgerys Creek and Sydney CBD in time for the opening of a future Western Sydney Airport were dismissed by the Federal Transport Minister Warren Truss. “A rail line connected to the metropolitan area of Sydney is not essential in that [early] phase” said Mr Truss. The NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance was more open to the idea, stating that he was “putting all things on the table”, including a possible extension of Sydney Rapid Transit out to Badgerys Creek via the existing Kingsford Smith Airport at Mascot. Proposals exist to extend the recently opened South West Rail Link to Badgerys Creek, but there are no current plans or funding to do so.

The proposed corridors for an extension of the SWRL through to Badgerys Creek and beyond. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW.)

The proposed corridors for an extension of the SWRL through to Badgerys Creek and beyond. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW.)

4 May: Opal-only ticket gates

New ticket gates that accept only Opal cards are to be trialed at Olympic Park Station. Existing ticket barriers that accept both Opal and paper tickets will continue to be in use.

7 May: Mousetrap to catch graffiti vandals

A new technology is being trialed which detects either spray paint or permanent marker on trains, so far leading to the arrest of 30 individuals. Known as “Mousetrap”, it uses an electronic chemical sensor which detects the vapour of both spray paint and marker pens.  Live CCTV records and provides images directly to Sydney Trains staff. Removing graffiti from the Sydney Trains network cost $34 million last financial year, up from $30 million the year before.

10 May: Epping to Chatswood Line will be disconnected for almost a year

The Epping to Chatswood Line, set to be shut down for 7 months during which it will be converted and connected to the North West Rail Link in order to create the first stage of Sydney Rapid Transit, will be disconnected from the T1 Northern and North Shore Lines prior to its shut down. A recently approved government proposal will see the line operate as a shuttle service between Epping and Chatswood for 4 months prior to this conversion, most likely in 2018.

21 May: Light rail predicted to kill someone each year

A report prepared for the government predicts that 1.14 people will be killed by the new CBD and South East Light Rail line every year on average. Between 2010 and 2014, there have been 3 fatalities involving pedestrians and buses in the Sydney CBD. The report also predicts 1 fatality every 5 years for the existing light rail line to Dulwich Hill, although no deaths have occurred on this line since it opened in 1997.

22 May: Opal card user information handed over to government agencies

57 requests for Opal card data, which include the card user’s address and travel patterns, have been granted by Transport for NSW to government agencies since December 2014. A total of 181 requests were made, with no court approval required in order for information to be handed over. By comparison, information from Queensland’s Go Card had been accessed almost 11,000 times between 2006 and 2014.

26 May: NWRL tunneling 40% complete

Tunnel boring machines on the North West Rail Link have reached Showground Station. 12km of the 30km of tunneling, representing over a third of the total length, is now complete.

26 May: Long Bay Prison sale under consideration

The Government is considering the possibility of selling off Long Bay Prison, possibly raising a estimated $400m. The sale, which would see the site redeveloped, has been linked to a possible extension of the light rail line currently under construction. The CBD and South East Light Rail is set to open in 2019, initially reaching Kingsford. However, an extension as far as La Perouse has been raised as a possibility.

Potential extensions to the CBD and South East Light Rail to Maroubra, Malabar, or La Perouse. Click to enlarge. (Source: Infrastructure NSW, State Infrastructure Strategy Update 2014, p. 40.)

Potential extensions to the CBD and South East Light Rail to Maroubra, Malabar, or La Perouse. Click to enlarge. (Source: Infrastructure NSW, State Infrastructure Strategy Update 2014, p. 40.)

26 May: Congestion will be worse after WestConnex

Internal government reports show that traffic levels on inner city roads around the planned WestConnex tunnels are predicted to be higher in 2026 than in 2011, despite the planned completion of WestConnex by 2023. A spokeswoman for the WestConnex Delivery Authority commented that “[traffic on] the inner south will improve with WestConnex as opposed to a do nothing scenario”.

28 May: Light rail construction schedule announced

VIDEO: Ten Eyewitness News Sydney – Government admits public transport system “broken” (27/5/2015)

A construction schedule for the CBD and South East Light Rail was released to the public. George St is set to see three and a half years of construction, with the new CBD and South East Light Rail set to be built between September 2015 and April 2018. The line is currently scheduled to open in early 2019, following testing of the line.

The Opposition Leader Luke Foley, who recently declared his opposition to light rail on George St, compared the project to the Berlin Wall and declared that it would lead to chaos and confusion.

The Government released video (above) of a bus and pedestrian walking down George Street during the evening peak hour showing the pedestrian being faster than the bus. Pedestrianising George St, resulting in the replacement of cars and buses with trams, has been put forward as a way to reduce congestion for public transport users which currently exists in many parts of the city.

The announcement also included plans to defer construction on the Northern portion of the Castlereagh St bike path until construction on the light rail line is completed. The Roads Minister Duncan Gay had previously proposed including loading zones along portions of Castlereagh St, which would have the effect of making it a “part-time” bike path. Deferring its construction pushes back the need to make a decision on this issue. However, the existing bike path on College St is set to be converted into a bus lane. This will help to handle bus movements once George St becomes closed off to vehicles, but removes a North-South bike path in the CBD for a number of years.

28 May: mX axed

Newscorp is set to discontinue mX, its free commuter newspaper. mX is currently distributed each weekday afternoon in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane; it began in each of these cities in 2001, 2005, and 2007 respectively.

29 May: Electricity privatisation passes lower house

Legislation to allow the 99 year lease of 49% of the NSW electricity distribution network has passed the NSW Legislative Assembly. It now goes to the Legislative Council, where a combination of the Liberal, National, and Christian Democratic Parties that have committed to supporting the legislation have enough votes to ensure its passage through the upper house of Parliament.

Monday: Opal expands to Forest Coach Lines routes in Northern Sydney

Around 100 buses operated by Forest Coach Lines in Northern Sydney have been Opal enabled. Opal is now available on 47 bus routes around Sydney, with 300,000 Opal cards currently in circulation.

Tuesday: Second Harbour Crossing and WestConnex extensions announced

An under the Harbour rail crossing and Northern plus Southern extension to WestConnex would be the major infrastructure projects funded by selling a 49% stake in the NSW electricity distribution network, often referred to as the “poles and wires”. The new rail crossing would form the spine of a future Sydney Rapid Transit network, featuring single deck trains running from Rouse Hill in Sydney’s North West to Bankstown in Sydney’s South West via the Sydney CBD. Funding would also be included for improvements to the T1 Western Line; including improved signalling, track amplifications, and additional stabling.

Proposed Sydney Rapid Transit network. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW, Sydney Rapid Transit, p. 1)

Proposed Sydney Rapid Transit network. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW, Sydney Rapid Transit, p. 1)

Friday: Almost 500 pedestrians fined for jaywalking

495 fines were handed out by police in Sydney and Parramatta for jaywalking during as 12 hour period. The blitz was an attempt to reduce risky pedestrian behaviour. 29 pedestrians have been killed so far this year.

Over a year ago this blog discussed the proposal to turn the old monorail tracks into an elevated walkway, in the context of comparing it to New York’s famous High Line. The argument was made that the former metropolitan goods line, or at least the remaining portion of it between Central Station and the light rail line, was a better comparison. This is being converted into a pedestrian space, providing both a means of travelling around the city on foot as well as being a destination in its own right.

High Line 2/2

The New York High Line. Click to enlarge. (Source: Author.)

But there is one place in the Sydney CBD that is similar to the High Line: an uncompleted portion of the Western Distributor at the Southern edge of Barangaroo. Much how the High Line in New York was a disused freight line that was later converted into public space, this never completed section of the Western Distributor lays dormant and unused.

The story behind it goes back to the 1960s, when the Western Distributor was first being built (documented in great detail at the highly recommended Ozroads website). The Harbour Bridge, whose construction was concluded in the early 1930s and not extended further due to Depression and war, had been extended further East via the Cahill Expressway as part of a post-War expansion of the roads network with plans for a continuous freeway all the way through to the current Syd Enfield Drive at Bondi Junction. The Western Distributor was to be the first part of a freeway linking the Southern end of the Harbour Bridge West to the M4 at Concord and South to St Peters. To this end, it was designed as a two level viaduct. The then Department of Main Roads provided this description: “The top level will consist of a divided six-lane expressway…between the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Ultimo Interchange…The lower level will be mainly a collector-distributor road with a number of connections to the city streets” (Source: Ozroads).

The first stage, from the Harbour Bridge to the Pyrmont Bridge (now fully pedestrianised, but back then still open to vehicle traffic) was completed in 1972. However, by 1977 the government dumped plans for a freeway all the way to Concord and St Peters, making the two level viaduct plan unnecessary. The Western Distributor was therefore only built as, and today remains, a single level viaduct.

But there is one section of the lower level that was built, at the Southern end of Barangaroo, around where the currently under construction Wynyard Walk (designed to allow pedestrians to travel between Barangaroo and Wynyard Station) comes out from underground at the Barangaroo end. With a bit of work, there is no reason why this cannot be linked up to the Wynyard Walk and converted into public space. It won’t be the size of the New York High Line, not by any means. But given its location, it certainly has the potential to be an iconic piece of the public domain in its own right.

Images below are from the author of this blog. Click to enlarge.

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The Environmental Impact Study for the CBD and South East Light Rail is due to be completed by the end of this year, finalising the project before construction begins. Enough details have been released about the project that a fairly complete picture can be drawn of what it will look like and how it will operate.

The CBD

Trams will operate along an overhead wire free zone starting from where the pedestrianised zone beings at Bathurst St and continues all the way to Circular Quay. Along this portion of the alignment trams will be powered by onboard batteries which are recharged with overhead wires at each stop. Overseas experience suggests batteries could allow for up to 2km of travel at a time before recharging (Source: George Street Concept Design, 2013, City of Sydney, p. 27). This will also allow limited operation should there be a short term power outage, but will also prevent trams on the Inner West Line from operating on George St (though these trams would still be able to travel to Kingsford and Randwick). This move is supported by the City of Sydney on the basis that “it will ensure that…space is preserved for pedestrians [and respect]…the streetscape of George Street and its heritage buildings”; but opposed by advocacy group Action for Public Transport, commenting that “this system would add unacceptably to initial and running costs, would detract from reliability, and would probably not supply enough power for the air-conditioning”.

Artists impression of Circular Quay with trams. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)

Artists impression of Circular Quay with trams. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)

 

The trams on the CSELR will also be longer than the Inner West ones, being 45m long compared to the current 30m long trams, which have a capacity of 300 passengers and 200 passengers respectively. These longer trams mean that the 45m CSELR trams will not be able to operate on the Inner West line at all.

The net effect is an effective segregation of the two lines, forcing them to operate independently.

Tram stops at Central Station (Chalmers St) and Moore Park will be double the regular length, allowing 2 trams to load an unload simultaneously, with turnback sidings allowing shuttle services from Central to the Moore Park sports stadiums to provide a high capacity transport connection for special events like double headers. The Central Station and Circular Quay stops will also have a third platform.  Meanwhile, the UNSW stop (probably the busiest stop outside of the CBD and special events) will be on UNSW property itself, preventing the need for students and university staff to cross the road unless they need to reach the smaller Western campus end of UNSW.

Rawson Place will be closed off to cars and turned into a bus and tram interchange. Buses leaving the CBD will pass through Rawson Place itself, allowing a cross platform transfer, while inbound buses will stop on the Western side of Pitt Street, from which the tram stop will be a short walk away. This avoids the need to cross the road in order to transfer from bus to tram or vice versa.

The Rawson Place tram stop will serve as a bus-tram interchange. Transfers can be made here without having to cross any street. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)

The Rawson Place tram stop will serve as a bus-tram interchange. Transfers can be made here without having to cross any street. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)

Outside of the CBD

The route across South Dowling Street, Moore Park, and Anzac Parade has yet to be determined, with a cut and cover tunnel or viaduct being the two options. The advantages of a tunnel are the lower visual impact and maintaining full use of Moore Park. The advantages of a viaduct are a shorter construction time and grade separation over South Dowling Street. The government has a preference for the tunnel option, but has also taken feedback from the public on the two options before making a final decision.

The two options for crossing South Dowling Street are a cut and cover tunnel (top) or a viaduct (bottom). Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)

The two options for crossing South Dowling Street are a cut and cover tunnel (top) or a viaduct (bottom). Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)

 

Upgrading the Anzac Parade corridor will increase the passenger capacity in each direction from the current 10,000 passengers/hour to 15,000 passengers/hour. It does this by replacing some buses (the equivalent of 4,000 passengers/hour with trams that carry 9,000 passengers/hour), which will now not continue past Kingsford and Randwick. They will instead be rerouted as orbital routes that do not reach the city, and instead continue towards destination like Bondi Junction or Green Square. Anyone continuing into the CBD will get off their bus and onto a tram, either by crossing the platform at Kingsford or walking across High Cross Park at Randwick.

The Kingsford interchange (left) includes a bus stop in-between the outer tram stops, allowing a cross platform transfer from bus to tram or vice versa. The Randwick interchange (right) includes a tram stop on an existing park, with bus stops on either side of the park, allowing for bus-tram transfers without having to cross the street. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)

The Kingsford interchange (left) includes a bus stop in-between the outer tram stops, allowing a cross platform transfer from bus to tram or vice versa. The Randwick interchange (right) includes a tram stop on an existing park, with bus stops on either side of the park, allowing for bus-tram transfers without having to cross the street. Click to enlarge. (Sources: Left – Transport for NSW, Right – Transport for NSW)

Buses and fares

Some buses will be kept on. In particular, preliminary details of the bus redesign suggest that all peak hour express buses that travel via the Eastern Distributor will be maintained, largely as they service the Northern end of the CBD rather than the Southern end. In addition, at least one bus lane will be retained on the existing Anzac Parade busway. Some buses that travel via Cleveland and Oxford Streets will also be retained as these corridors are not served by light rail.

One lane will be retained for use by buses on the existing Anzac Parade busway. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)

One lane will be retained for use by buses on the existing Anzac Parade busway. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)

Transport Sydney understands that fares for light rail will be calculated as though they are buses, meaning that there should not be a fare penalty for passengers changing from bus to tram or vice versa. This would prevent current bus users from having to pay more once light rail begins operating and many passengers are forced to make a transfer from bus to tram.

Development and the construction period

The improvement in transport infrastructure will be followed by higher housing densities, with the NSW Government designating Randwick (and Anzac Parade South, to which the light rail line could easily be extended into) for increased dwelling construction, including 30,000 new dwellings for Kingsford. This issue was prominent enough for the newly elected local MP to campaign about it at the recent September federal election.

The years of construction are also likely to see significant strain on the existing transport network, with George Street closed down and bus lanes removed long before trams begin operating. With construction set to take 4 to 5 years, it could prove to be a protracted period of pain. The government is set to announce a revised bus network for this construction period by the end of the year, around the same time it released the Environmental Impact Study. It then has until the end of the decade to come up with a second bus network redesign for when the light rail finally comes online.

Public transport works best in moving large volumes of people to or from a single destination in a short period of time, while private motor vehicles work best in moving people to and from dispersed destinations over a long period of time. Each performs poorly at the other function, which is why public transport has a high mode share for peak hour commutes into dense activity centres and cars have a high mode share for off peak trips that start and end in the outer suburbs.

However, this poses a problem when a major arterial road happens to pass through a major centre, resulting in a high proportion of through traffic. This is the worst of both worlds – lots of cars in a dense centre which have an origin and destination that are not well served by public transport. That is where ring roads come in – they allow these roads to bypass these major centres, while car users still reach their destination. This maintains transport to and within the centre focused on public and active transport (walking and cycling).

The most basic ring road is a bypass. Bondi Junction’s Oxford Street used to be its major thoroughfare, resulting in large amounts of traffic passing through it. The construction of the Sydney Enfield Drive re-routed traffic away from Oxford Street, and even allowed the mall to be pedestrianised and limited to buses in certain parts.

Oxford Street (blue) was once the main street through Bondi Junction. But now it is Sydney Enfield Drive. Click on image for higher resolution. (Source: Open Street Map)

Oxford Street (blue) was once the main street through Bondi Junction. But now it is Sydney Enfield Drive (yellow). Click  to enlarge. (Source: Open Street Map)

A true ring road actually circles around a major centre, such as in Castle Hill. Here the 3 major roads approach Castle Hill and originally converged onto Old Northern Road. A ring road was then set up to circle the Castle Hill Town Centre, with Old Northern Road’s speed limit dropped and more street space designated for pedestrians, on street parking and a bus road. This allowed cafes and restaurants to set up on the street and created a more relaxed environment, compared to the noisy car dominated road that it used to be.

Old Northern Road (blue) used to be the main street through Castle Hill. Now a ring road (yellow) around it has been set up with wide lanes to handle high traffic volumes. Click on image for higher resolution. (Source: Open Street Map)

Old Northern Road (blue) used to be the main street through Castle Hill. Now a ring road (yellow) around it has been set up with wide lanes to handle high traffic volumes. Click to enlarge. (Source: Open Street Map)

In the case of Parramatta, it’s ring road is now considered too small, and the local council has designated an outer ring road. The inner ring road allowed Church Street (Parramatta’s main North-South high street) to be partly pedestrianised and to become a vibrant cafe, restaurant, and shopping precinct. However, the recent growth in the Parramatta CBD means that this ring road is now too small, and thus resulted in an outer ring road made up of the M4 in the South, the Cumberland Highway in the West, and James Ruse Drive in the North and East. This outer ring road is designed with higher speed limits of around 80km/hour, compared to the 60km/hour in the inner ring road, and thus draws traffic away from even the inner ring road.

The local council is seeking to make improvements to the outer ring road in key pinch points, and its proposal has obtained support from Infrastructure NSW.

Church Street (blue) was originally the main road through Parramatta, until a ring road was set up around it (yellow). More recently, a regional ring road has been set up even further out (orange) allowing most traffic to avoid not just the Parramatta CBD but the entire suburb of Parramatta entirely. Click on image for higher resolution. (Source: Open Street Map)

Church Street (blue) was originally the main road through Parramatta, until a ring road was set up around it (yellow). More recently, a regional ring road has been set up even further out (orange) allowing most traffic to avoid not just the Parramatta CBD but the entire suburb of Parramatta entirely. Click to enlarge. (Source: Open Street Map)

A ring road does not even have to go around a centre, and in the case of the Sydney CBD the Cross City Tunnel and Eastern Distributor, which go underneath the city, are also a type of ring road. Together with the Western Distributor, Cahill Expressway, Harbour Bridge, and Harbour Tunnel, these effectively form a ring road, allowing car drivers to go to or from North Sydney, Pyrmont, Kings Cross, or Moore Park without entering a surface street in the CBD.

However, what sets this ring road apart from the other example above is that this is the only case where drivers pay a financial cost for using the ring road, but nothing for going through the CBD. In an ideal world, this situation would be reversed, with access to all parts of these ring roads being free (perhaps with the exception of the Harbour crossings, which cannot be avoided by driving through the CBD) while charging drivers who go through the CBD surface a congestion charge. The new charge could even be used to compensate the private operators of the Cross City Tunnel and Eastern Distributor.

Various freeways, either in tunnels underground or viaducts above ground, effectively form a ring road "around" the CBD. Click on image for higher resolution. (Source: Open Street Map)

Various freeways, either in tunnels underground or viaducts above ground, effectively form a ring road “around” the CBD. Click to enlarge. (Source: Open Street Map)

There is actually one more road even better than a ring road – a public and active transport only road. An example of this is the proposed Wentworth Point Bridge that will link Sydney Olympic Park to Rhodes Business Park, but which will only be accessible to buses, bicycles, and pedestrians. Cars will continue to have to make their way the long way around, which has a similar result to a ring road, as it prevents cars from passing through both Sydney Olympic Park and Rhodes Business Park.