Articles



A Trip as Desirable as the Destination

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The cities that will prove most resilient in the future are those that are currently putting their imagination to the test on how to reinvent themselves. In the case of the Cockburn Coast development near Perth, Western Australia, it requires that the community defines success as “the trip not taken by car.” Few major cities are as car-dependent as the Perth metropolitan area (population: 1.7 million). Eighty percent of all trips taken in the region are by car. The concept of adopting multimodal transport solutions that promote active transportation and public health, while building better places, is relatively new in the region.

Approximately 250 acres fronting the Indian Ocean will be developed as an urban center for more than 10,000 residents and 3,500 employees. LandCorp, the land development agency for the state of Western Australia and project sponsor, initiated the ITP in 2010 to support rezoning and planning approvals.The Cockburn Coast project is a proposed mixed-use development near the suburb of Fremantle (population: 25,000). Using the project as a prototype, the state of Western Australia undertook its first Integrated Transport Planning (ITP) approach. Since slightly less than half of the overall trips in Greater Perth are by motor vehicles, there is a significant opportunity to change travel behavior. To do so, a new approach to transportation planning and development was needed. The Cockburn Coast ITP incorporates transport planning into land use planning, urban design, water-sensitive urban design (low-impact development in the US), placemaking, and green streets planning to produce a “trip as desirable as the destination” for those travelling by foot, bike, or transit within or to and from the Cockburn Coast.

Early in the project, the limited capacity of the existing road network surrounding the Cockburn Coast was recognized. A typical solution would be to build additional roadway capacity, however, there was long-standing opposition to highway capacity improvements along the Cockburn Coast because of disruption to existing neighborhoods.

Alliance and Workshop Process

Although the land use vision itself was generally well supported during the planning approval process, some state and local public officials felt that additional highway capacity, including a new bypass freeway, should be provided by the project sponsors. At this time, the state government was seeking to encourage several other dense, mixed-use centers throughout the region that would also face roadway capacity issues. Recognizing that an approach beyond business as usual was needed to support its infill development strategy, the state selected the Cockburn Coast as a pilot for creating a multimodal transport solution. The approach avoided the need to provide additional highway capacity.

Consequently, an approach to “move minds,” or to shift beliefs that additional highway capacity should be the first transportation solution for new development, was adopted by LandCorp, with the support of the Western Australia Department of Transportation. The state and local government agencies were invited by LandCorp to be a part of a transportation alliance that allowed the agencies develop creative solutions. The members included the WA LandCorp, WA Department of Transportation, WA Department of Planning, WA Public Transport Authority, WA Main Roads, City of Fremantle, and City of Cockburn. The process was coordinated and supporting technical studies were performed by Parsons Brinckerhoff. The transportation alliance conducted five facilitated workshops to develop approaches to a multimodal solution:

Workshop 1

The first workshop defined the true problems regarding land use and transport at Cockburn Coast; explored emerging critical thinking and best practices for linking land use and transport decisions; and considered illustrative case studies (such as the car-free living quarter and channelized traffic network of Vauban, Germany) for integrated transport and land use planning practices. This workshop resulted in the development of the ITP framework.

Workshop 2

The second workshop identified key principles and measures of success. Using seven themes for integrated transport planning, 17 principles and 32 measures of success were identified and helped in the exploration of solutions to improve upon existing practices and standards.

Workshop 3

This workshop identified the potential implementation actions or tools to attain the desired results (e.g., land use pattern and densities, guiding principles for decision making, and performance measures of success).

Workshop 4

The fourth workshop developed greater detail regarding the potential tools (i.e. transport solutions) and examined alternative scenarios for integrating land use and transport.

Workshop 5

The last workshop reviewed and scored alternative scenarios based on a comparison to business-as-usual practices. Key indicators for desired outcomes (such as reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, vehicle kilometers travelled, and person-hours in private motor vehicles) provided the basis for the scoring. The results of this workshop became the basis of the ITP recommendations.

ITP Framework

The ITP established several key concepts that refined the decision making for multimodal transportation at Cockburn Coast, including: identify and solve the right problems (e.g., not just congestion); select a broad array of measures of success; be mode neutral (i.e. think about overall number of people moved, not just vehicles); recognize that added roadway capacity grows and induces traffic; acknowledge the external costs of roadway capacity and additional traffic; prioritize smart growth; emphasize development-oriented transit (i.e. locate transit where it supports transit-oriented development, not where right-of-way happens to be available or operating speeds are fastest); and promote the trip not taken by motor vehicle.

As a result of this framework, the transportation alliance chose not to use a conventional predict-and-provide approach to transportation planning. Instead, decisions about the transportation network included sustainability considerations such as climate change and household affordability as well as the increase in: land use diversity and amenity; percent of streets with pedestrian-controlled design speeds (e.g., 30 kilometers per hour); percent mode share for non-motor vehicle transport; potential participation in car sharing; number of key destinations directly accessible by public transport, walking, and cycling; residential density and employment around transit nodes; percentage of area within a 10-minute walking distance to high quality public transport (e.g., 800-metre catchment); and intersection density per square kilometer.

Additional measures of success included reductions in greenhouse gas emissions per resident (including embodied emissions from parking structures and garages); private motor vehicle kilometer travelled (VKT); land area used for roads and parking; number of car parking bays (i.e. spaces) per capita; and private motor vehicle hours per capita.

A multi-criteria system was used to consider bundles of alternative land use and transportation scenarios, and the alliance ultimately selected its ITP Toolkit for the Cockburn Coast.

ITP Toolkit

As shown in Box 2, the ITP set forth a diverse but inter-dependent range of tools and strategies. Each of the tools is directly dependent on the mix and design of the land uses. Among the key tools are the following:

Allowing Congestion

The alliance accepts the notion that vibrant, successful urban areas cannot always be free of congestion. By accepting low to moderate congestion, the alliance was able to accomplish many of the ITPs objectives which included providing additional green time to pedestrian crossing time; prioritization of pedestrians at intersection crossings; and reducing traffic speeds.

Foot Power and Changing Gears

The ITP calls for the creation of a highly-permeable walking and cycling network, with connectivity to other streets and places. Cockburn Coast will be transformed into a “cyclist’s paradise” via an on- and off-road cycling network that will present amenities and features, provide views of the coast, offer invitations to play along the way, instill a sense of comfort and security, and signal that Cockburn Coast is a very different place from conventional development in Western Australia.

Public Transport

The alliance de-emphasized large-scale regional roadway solutions and stressed localized accessibility and regional transit. Consequently, LandCorp, along with the cities of Fremantle, Cockburn, and Melville undertook the Southwest Metro Rapid Transit Network Study (SMRTNS) to determine the requirements for a future rapid transit network within the southwest metropolitan area of Perth. This study was conducted by Parsons Brinckerhoff. Unlike traditional transit network planning in the region that primarily sought to maximize ridership, the network was also planned to catalyze infill development.

The study also presented a case for bus rapid transit (BRT)/light rail transit (LRT) investment within the southwest metropolitan area, through a high-level patronage and cost-benefit assessment. The outcome of this study defined the need for a six-kilometer rapid transit link between Cockburn Coast and the Fremantle Central Business District, and recommended BRT as the preferred mode for this link, with incremental staging to LRT in the future. The study also prioritized the Cockburn Coast to Fremantle corridor as the initial operating segment in the network due to the ability to attract investment in the Cockburn Coast and other underdeveloped properties along its corridor.

Parking

A fundamental strategy in the ITP is to minimize the amount of private and public parking spaces and to use minimum rates that are much lower than current practices. Due to concerns about the impact of reducing the supply of parking spaces, such as market response and spill-over parking, a transition strategy was adopted to reduce the maximum parking ratio over the project duration. Shared parking was also incorporated to address spill-over effects. Strategies to sell a portion of residential car parking physically separate from residential units are being considered to improve household affordability and to concentrate parking at the perimeter of the Cockburn Coast, thereby reducing vehicle travel within the area. Performance pricing is also a key parking strategy.

Summary

The focus of the Cockburn Coast ITP is moving people and moving minds instead of moving cars. It incorporated a facilitated workshop process that fostered collaboration among stakeholders to redefine the true problems and the measures of success for transport planning. It also recognized the deficiencies of conventional transport planning approaches to address emerging issues, such as climate change. As a result, the plan was more readily able to promote global best practices to attain the desired outcomes.

The key to this approach is providing stakeholders with a framework that allows them to embed new measures of success in the land use and transport planning process. The process resulted in the necessary state and local council approvals in 2012. This enabled the project to advance to more detailed planning and design. Final planning approvals are anticipated by mid 2014 and development will start in late 2014.

 

Note:

  1. The final plan can be found at:  www.cockburn.wa.gov.au/Council_Services/City_Development/Projects/Cockburn_Coast/District_Structure_Plan/default.asp

 

Image Header Source: Hassell