Shopping streets are public places, the core of 20-minute neighbourhoods, where we as a community build wealth, access goods and services, meet and socialise. They also act as transport corridors, moving people between suburbs. Our challenge is to make our shopping streets better for business by attracting regular, repeat patronage from local residents.
We advocate for Yarra’s shopping streets to be upgraded with wider footpaths, trees, bicycle lanes and level access tram stops; cars share a lane with trams and shoppers park on side streets. For our 20 metre wide tram-based shopping streets, we call this the ‘Melbourne Shopping Street’ reference design.
Guidance from the book ‘Soft City’
The ‘Melbourne Shopping Street’ reference design is based on Vesterbrogade in Copenhagen, as described in the book ‘Soft City‘ by David Sim of Gehl Architects. In the book, Vesterbrogade is described as a busy thoroughfare that accommodates a great diversity of users. The ‘Melbourne Shopping Street’ reference design has a similar layout, differing only by the removal the central 0.5m traffic island and the addition two rows of trees, made possible by Yarra’s slightly wider (20m vs 19m) tram-based streets.
The ‘Melbourne Shopping Street’ reference design aligns well with Safe System, as shown by Safe System assessments conducted by both Streets Alive Yarra and VicRoads.
The ‘Melbourne Shopping Street’ reference design offers the best opportunity for place making, with wider footpaths, and space for trees and seating.
The ‘Melbourne Shopping Street’ reference design offers the best ‘movement’ capacity, compared with other designs, because it prioritises the two modes with the highest people carrying capacity – trams and cycling. Other possible street layouts carry fewer people, because trams are slowed by cars and because a sub-standard bicycle lane won’t attract many people. Our ‘better for trams‘ describes how trams can travel faster when cars can’t overtake, and our ‘bicycle lane capacity‘ page shows how a best-practice bicycle lane can transport more people in peak hour than a car lane.
The ‘Melbourne Shopping Street’ reference design offers parking for shoppers using the first 5-10 bays on each side street. Some people say that on-street parking is critical to the success of shopping streets. We disagree – if the shopping street is attractive then people will find a way to get there. In other words, the ‘Melbourne Shopping Street’ reference design is better for business.
Parking is lazy excuse as to why downtown is dead. We need to throw out our stripmall mentality and remember that if a place is worth visiting, people will find a way to get there.Revitalize, or Die
The ‘Melbourne Shopping Street’ reference design aligns with the ‘Linear Barcelona Model’ as proposed in ‘Transforming Australian Cities’:
Example from Amsterdam
Ferdinand Bolstraat in Amsterdam shows how a tram-based shopping street can thrive while also moving many people. The ‘Melbourne Shopping Street’ reference design is similar, but with two tram/car lanes instead of one.
The following pages describe specific streets in more detail:
Let’s make Yarra a beautiful city to live in
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