How much money should we invest in our streets?

The City of Yarra has obligations to:

However, at present, we are maintaining a ‘business as usual’ approach to budgeting, which will result in:

  • severe congestion and gridlock on many streets before 2030,
  • inadequate reduction in our carbon emission by 2030,
  • negligible change to hazards, risks, deaths and serious injuries on our streets,
  • little progress in enabling people to lead a fulfilling life without the need to own a car.

The solution to these issues is to increase our expenditure on active transport and local area place making from ~ $1 million per year to $10 million per year. This page describes how the value of $10 million per year is derived.

Required treatments

Actions to invest in active transport and local area place making include:

  • widen footpaths (including moving kerb, gutter and drainage)
  • build a network of protected bicycle lanes
  • build raised threshold treatments (where footpaths continue at grade across minor side streets)
  • plant trees (or move trees if widening the footpath)
  • convert lanes or streets to shared zones (where lots of people walk)
  • build wombat crossings (or raised zebra crossings)
  • close or filter local streets (to keep commuter through traffic on the arterials)

Expenditure per treatment

Implementing each of these treatments requires a certain expenditure:

  • widen footpath: $1,000 dollars per metre (one side of the street)
  • build a protected bicycle lane: $1,000 per metre (one side of the street)
  • build a raised threshold treatment: $150,000
  • plant a tree (move kerb, excavate & make good) : $5,000
  • convert a street to a shared zone: $300,000
  • build a wombat crossing: $120,000
  • close or filter a street: $100,000

Number of treatments

We can also estimate the quantity of each treatment required in Yarra:

  • widening and re-paving a footpath: 30% of our 491 km of footpath, considering that many footpaths are too narrow (or too sloping) to be usable by a wheelchair or mobility scooter
  • build a protected bicycle lane: 50 km across Yarra, matching the 50 km targeted by the City of Melbourne (or 100 km for both sides of the street)
  • build a raised threshold treatment: 420 across Yarra, or 20 in each of 21 LAPM areas
  • plant or move a tree: 10,000 trees across Yarra, reflecting Yarra’s Urban Forest Strategy
  • convert a street to a shared zone: 105 across Yarra, or 5 in each of 21 LAPM areas
  • build a wombat crossing: 210 across Yarra, or 10 in each of 21 LAPM areas
  • close or filter a street: 105 across Yarra, or 5 in each of 21 LAPM areas

Total expenditure

Which leads to a total cost of $427 million:

Annual expenditure

If we build the above over 10 years, we need to spend $42 million per year.

Therefore, a budget of $10 million per year is conservative, even though it is 10x higher that what we are spending now.

Validation from Council

Validation for an expenditure of $10 million per year can be collated by tasking Council Officers to cost the implementation of an Integrated Transport Plan over 10 years, including a footpath network, a bicycle network, protected intersections, level access tram stops, and 30 km/h superblocks.

Validation from Manchester

Greater Manchester in the UK is proposing to invest 1.5 billion pounds (or 3 billion Australian dollars) over 10 years in high quality infrastructure for walking and cycling. This is AU$107 per person per year for each of Greater Manchester’s 2.8 million residents.

For Yarra to match Manchester’s expenditure per person, Council would need to invest $10.7 million per year, which validates our proposal for $10 million per year.

Plan to invest AU$3 billion over 10 years. Source: Transport for Greater Manchester.

Feedback welcome

Streets Alive Yarra welcomes your feedback. If you can contribute more accurate costings for a treatment type, or better estimates on how many treatments would be required across Yarra, please contact us. Please also note the positive business case for investment in active transport.

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