Sydney 2050: Make Sydney the best city in the world for walking

Below is WalkSydney’s submission for Sydney 2050:

WalkSydney is a community group advocating for walking. As Sydney’s population grows we want people to be able to walk easily to schools, public transport, local shops and services and shared transport choices.

Streets and other spaces provide important social and economic engagement as well as infrastructure for walking.

WalkSydney wants to see bold coordinated action to make walking in the City of Sydney convenient, accessible, safe and enjoyable.

Making Sydney a great city for walking has benefits for everyone and as the City of Sydney prepares its strategic plan for 2050, this submission outlines actions that can be taken by the City, as well as by the State Government for which the City needs to advocate.

Following the work of Gehl Architects in 2007 and adoption of Sustainable Sydney 2030, the City of Sydney has achieved good outcomes to support people walking including:

  • Pedestrianisation of George Street and lanes in the city centre
  • Improved footpaths and intersections with trees, landscaping, filtered permeability and reduced road space
  • Signs showing walking times to nearby destinations
  • Online mapping for inclusionary access
  • Footpath lighting, seating and bubblers
  • New streets and links in previously inaccessible areas
  • A bicycle network providing a safer transport choice
  • Establishing the Liveable Green Network to prioritise streets for walking, and
  • Work to improve pedestrian counting and measuring of crowding and safety.

The City of Sydney needs to be a place where it is a pleasure to stroll, linger, and look around as well as walk to destinations quickly. To achieve this and build on previous work, the City of Sydney needs a coordinated and strategic approach taking action where it can and influencing the State Government for necessary change.

We recognise that change inevitably attracts resistance as it challenges established practices and attitudes about how street space is used and WalkSydney encourages the City of Sydney to embrace this reaction with an ongoing strategy of attractive trial implementations, while addressing valid concerns and giving residents, visitors and businesses time to experience the benefits and adapt to new circumstances.

For example, over time cars have been removed from the along the bank of the river Seine in Paris starting with temporary closures over summer using attractive installations on access ramps as shown in the photo below. Today a 3 km stretch of former highway alongside the river is a safe, healthy and appealing destination.

The bank of the Seine

As the City of Sydney plans for 2050, WalkSydney outlines a number of considerations as part of a comprehensive and strategic outlook for moving around the City.

Our submission urges improvements around:

  1. Walking and schools
  2. Walking and public transport
  3. Reconsidering street space in village centres and on major corridors
  4. Creating streets for safer road transport
  5. Prioritising walking in planning for the Eastern Harbour City
  6. Reduced speed limits
  7. Traffic signals, and
  8. Reduced car parking in new developments.

Read our full submission here.