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Geelong Better Block - a place created by the locals

Written by Andrew Hammonds on .

The Specialists (urban designers, planners, engineers) need to realise that the locals can and want to make place... and give them the power to do so.*

Geelong Better Block

Image: Geelong Better Block - spontaneous music, community art installations, local foods, bike parking, street furniture and poets.

Written by Suzette Jackson (minor edits by Andrew Hammonds*)

Geelong Better Block - empowering the community to create a place by trialing the things we want to enjoy our city centre.

We invite you to come and make it happen. 

PLACE: Little Malop St & James St, Geelong
DAY: Sat 15th June 2013
TIME: 10am til 2pm

The Geelong community has come together to create a temporary street activation in Little Malop and James Street. Where retail vacancies almost outnumber local business. Community groups, local artists, poets and street performers will temporarily activate the space. All supported by local business and Geelong Better Block volunteers.

We were inspired by 'The Better Block' lecture and workshop, held as part of the Geelong Sustainable Living series in February this year. Co-founder Andrew Howard engaged over 130 Geelong residents. Sharing knowledge on how The Better Block team in the USA re-activate urban areas with high retail vacancies and low pedestrian and cycling use.

The Better Block Australian Tour 2013 video from the Sustainable Living Festival was recently released. As a result there is greater interest from local business and community in utilising a temporary installation to activate urban spaces and trial street furniture and bicycle facilities.

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Ideas for Macgregor Tce, Bardon - Status

Written by Andrew Hammonds on .

This blog provides a status of the placemaking and urban design ideas we have generated for Macgrgeor Terrace.

Macgregor Tce Brisbane QLD AUS

Image Macgregor Tce, Bardon QLD, AUS: who dosn't love a quirky landmark? I have always associated the 'Fairy House' with the entry into Macgregor Tce and Bardon. Apparently it dosn't have any heritage value - it's still a significant building to me. 

Posted by: Andrew Hammonds

Awaiting a response from Dept of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR)

1. Remove the left hand turn 'slip lanes'. They are fine on freeways – but dangerous for pedestrians.  Trial a temporary closure. Requested 5 May 2013.

2. Trial a dedicated bikeway on the southern side with the removal of the carparks. Requested 7 June 2013.

3. Formalise the cyclist route. It is very dangerous for cyclists to transition from the kerb in MacGregor Tce to head down Jubilee Tce or Coopers Camp Road. Having to cross two lanes of traffic (travelling at high speed). Requested 5 May 2013.

4. Remove the road signs installed in the footpath - which impede pedestrians, wheelies and cyclists. Requested 5 May 2013.

5. Review the driveway accessing the back of the Shops at 85 Macgregor Tce. Requested 5 May 2013.

6. The vacant site owned by Main Roads (5 Simpsons Rd) is an eyesore and should be sold for development which reinforces the Terrace. With an improved intersection part of the solution. Requested 5 May 2013.

7. Sign the carpark as being temporary. Not for commuter parking - to support the local businesses. Requested 7 June 2013.

8. Measure the impact of reducing carparks on the street to congestion and additional business to the traders. Requested 7 June 2013.

9. What are the accident statistics? Is Macgregor Tce an un-safe road compared to others? Requested 25 June 2013.

10. Public art on the retaining wall at the top of Jubilee Tce. Requested 25 June 2013.

11. Public art on the power poles along the Tce Requested 25 June 2013.

12. Investigate moving the in-bound bustop 20m along to improve amenity in front of Avanti Cafe. This would also involve a footpath widening. Requested 25 June 2013.

Simpsons Rd Bardon Brisbane QLD AUSImage Simpsons Rd, Bardon Brisbane, QLD, AUS: temporary carpark under construction. Let's trial the temporary closure of this dangerous slip lane? Why do we need highway scale signage in our local centre? What cues are these giving drivers? Why do they need two poles?

Awaiting a response from Councillor Geraldine Knapp.

1. Provide a second pedestrian crossing across the slip lane from the island to somewhere near 16 Coopers Camp Rd? Pedestrians cannot safely cross the outbound lanes of Coopers Camp Rd – the geometry encourages drivers to exceed the speed limit. Requested 7 June 2013.

2. Provide a second pedestrian crossing across the slip lane from the island to somewhere near 16 Coopers Camp Rd?. Pedestrians cannot safely cross the outbound lanes of Coopers Camp Rd – the geometry encourages drivers to exceed the speed limit. Requested 7 June 2013.

3. Reduce Coopers Camp to 50 km/hr and a safety zone halfway down towards Cecil Rd. Requested 7 June 2013.

4. Mountain to River Walking Trail - promoting a walking trail from the city to Mt Cootha, via the Terraces. Requested 25 June 2013.

Awaiting a response from Councillor Peter Matic.

1. The quality and width of the footpath along Macgregor Tce is poor, particularly on the northern side. Requested 5 May 2013.

2. Additional street trees to support the existing old figs. Part of an overall plan for the Terrace. Requested 5 May 2013.

3. Review signage at 63 Macgregor Terrace which might block views of footpath and terrace. Requested 5 May 2013.

4. Investigating what's happened to the rubbish bin.

Apparently it is being replaced with a bin safer to clean. 

5. Investigate moving the in-bound bustop 20m along to improve amenity in front of Avanti Cafe. This would also involve a footpath widening. Requested 25 June 2013.

6. Public art on the power poles along the Tce Requested 25 June 2013. Requested 25 June 2013.

7. Mountain to River Walking Trail - promoting a walking trail from the city to Mt Cootha, via the Terraces. Requested 25 June 2013.

8. Is this Australia's Highest High Street? Investigate marketing opportunities.

9. The Great Walk - Follow the Terraces from River to Mountain. A guided walk from Brisbane city and the river, along the Terraces to the summit of Mt Cootha. Investigate marketing opportunities.

Macgregor Tce, Bardon, Brisbane QLD AUS

Image Macgregor Tce, Bardon, Brisbane, QLD, AUS: proposed location for the bus-stop.

Actions by Andrew Hammonds. 

1. Organise the traders and the community.

Read - Macgregor Tce Update 2: June 2013

*This blog, Macgregor Tce Update (M.T.U.) is also about 'walking the talk'. We make a living from enabling Urban Design and Placemaking - around Australia and overseas. We are volunteering our time to improve our local centre - Macgregor Tce, Bardon. I plan on generating more ideas with the locals over the next few weeks. (www.facebook.com/MacgregorTceBardon). I will continue to share these ideas with my elected representatives and let you know.

Posts relating to Macgregor Terrace (newest to oldest)

5. Macgregor Tce Update 2: June 2013

4. Thinking Beyond the Pavement

3. Shared space for people + cars = Place

2. Local Business partnering to create better Places

1. Ten urban design ideas to improve my local Centre

Updated Tuesday 25 June, 2013

Written Thursday 7 June, 2013

Placefocus links: Additional Information - Promoting urban designPlace Tools (Additional Information Promoting Urban Design);

Placefocus Blogs: Macgregor Tce Update 2: June 2013Thinking Beyond the PavementShared space for people + cars = PlaceLocal Business partnering to create better PlacesTen urban design ideas to improve my local CentreTraffic studies are bull****13 products to facilitate walkingSix opportunities to improve our places through prototypingComplete Streets Training - a review;

We consistently receive positive feedback about discussion among participants in our training courses in urban design and placemaking. While there are common qualities to the places we like, our own views matter. As suggested by participants, We have started this blog to continue this discussion on-line. The Comments section of each blog provides the opportunity, so don't be bashful. Speak up! Particularly if you disagree with us. If you are reading this in our email then click on this link. This will take you to our website and you can comment at the bottom of the blog.

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Thinking Beyond the Pavement

Written by Andrew Hammonds on .

While a shared street, or even a tunnel under, might be the long term solution for the Terrace. What can we do in the short term? 'Put up a parking lot'!

Macgregor Tce Bardon Brisbane QLD AUS-6Image: Macgregor Tce, Bardon, QLD, AUS. I shouted Steven Burgess (Engineer and 'Street Maker') a coffee on the Terrace in return for ideas. 

Posted by: Andrew Hammonds

I was impressed by the promptness of Saxon Rice and Amanda Yeates to meet last week. A follow up from our blog - Ten urban design ideas to improve my local Centre. Saxon is our State Member of Parliament and Amanda works for the Dept of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR).

The news is that DTMR has started construction on a 'temporary' carpark with 18 spaces on their vacant site (construction of the carpark has just commenced in the background of the photo). This will replace 3 spaces removed from the outbound lane of Macgregor Tce. Apparently, there is no money in the budget to address any of my Ten urban design ideas to improve my local Centre. My concern is that money is once again being spent on cars, not people and place. 

By removing the carparks on the street the Government hopes to improve traffic flows through the Terrace and decrease 'rat-running' in the surrounding streets. Apparently, this is an important issue for the locals, with not too many people concerned about pedestrians or cyclists. As a resident I am not convinced we have a significant problem. But perhaps I don't live on an affected street?

We refer to Beyond the Pavement on our website regularly. This was produced by the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority:

The RTA is committed to providing excellent outcomes for the New South Wales community from its infrastructure projects. This requires each project to be developed and delivered using an urban design approach – ‘thinking beyond the pavement’... the RTA seeks to produce positive urban design outcomes while minimising the impacts from infrastructure on natural, built and cultural environments.

Based on our meeting I am yet to be convinced that DTMR is delivering positive urban design outcomes on the Terrace while minimising impacts of road infrastructure on Macgregor Tce. It appears to have a car focus over cyclists and walkers who are the people who buy from local shopkeepers.

Brisbane's third road tunnel Legacy Way, due for completion in 2015, will be an alternative route to the Terrace. This should reduce traffic particularly for truck. Shouldn't we be planning for less congestion on the Terrace and investing in placemaking outcomes? 

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Shared space for people + cars = Place

Written by Andrew Hammonds on .

"If you plan and design cities for cars and traffic, you get cars and traffic. If you plan and design for people and places, you get people and places" Fred Kent. Do shared streets offer us an alternative. The elusive win/win?

Regenerating Poynton Atlantic Cities

Image: Poynton, England - shared street. Thanks to Atlantic Cities for this image.

Posted by: Andrew Hammonds

Thanks to: Atlantic Cities

Have a look at this video on Poynton. This once transient town completely transformed itself into a must-stop destination. Partly by removing the traffic lights...

"No traffic lights. No traffic signs. No painted lines in the roadway. No curbs. And 26,000 vehicles passing every day through a traditional village center with busy pedestrian traffic. It’s called "shared space." Is it insanity, or the most rational way to create a pleasant place where drivers, cyclists, and people on foot all treat each other with respect?" Atlantic Cities

Poynton Roundels (http://www.gmcc.org.uk/2013/05/how-poynton-tamed-its-traffic/)Image - Poynton Roundels (http://www.gmcc.org.uk/2013/05/how-poynton-tamed-its-traffic/).

At a cost of about $6 million, this shared space scheme maintains a smooth flow of traffic while simultaneously making the village center a more attractive and safer place for pedestrians. Ultimately, leading to increased economic activity downtown for traders. To achieve this engineers and designers had to think differently. They completely reconfigured the intersection at the center of town. Effectively replacing a traffic light with two "roundels" that cars must negotiate without the guidance of traffic signs. Pavements of varying colors and textures are the only signal as to which type of road user belongs where. 

As the Financial Times states a similar shared space in Ashford, Kent, has reduced accidents without increasing congestion.

Now this could just be a win/win.

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Local Business partnering to create better Places

Written by Andrew Hammonds on .

Business Improvement Districts (BIDS) or Traders Associations, relatively common in Victoria, have much to offer businesses and councils in other states seeking to improve customer offer. What's your experience?

The Esplanade St Kilda Melbourne AUS

Image - The Esplanade, St Kilda, Melbourne, AUS. I was so impressed with this new building opposite Luna Park. So much happening here at street level - I loved the DJ sharing sweet tunes with the pedestrians. All within in a contemporary landmark. Normally a pretty tough combination. 

Posted by: Andrew Hammonds

Thanks to: David West, The AgeMichael Baker and Stuart Heseltine

What's not to like about St Kilda? History, music, entertainment, water, streets, bars, cafes, events, street trees, grit and grunge... I used to associate these outcomes with 'designed' Place Qualities like CharacterDiversity and Accessibility. Nowadays I am increasing focused the 'managed' outcomes which we call Social Fabric. This often requires coordination. For example, the St Kilda Tourism Association (SKTA) provides advocacy, destination marketing and industry development. 

"Small businesses on shopping strips need to give traders' association membership some serious thought – for some, their future may depend on it." Michael Baker

For the last few years I have been referring to BIDS in our courses on Urban Design and Placemaking. I came away from the recent Main St Conference with a better grasp of their potential.

  1. They are a partnership between business owners (UK) and/or landowners (USA) and the council.
  2. They focus on a defined place - eg Main St or Centre (although the principles could be applied to new centres).
  3. They start off as voluntarily but can generate funds through a special rates levy. 
  4. They are business led, but Council sanctioned.
  5. They are results focused - business needs survey, priorities, funding, budget, action, review.
  6. They should have a narrow focus eg - cleaning, marketing, placemaking, or security, etc.
  7. They seem to be successful with many being renewed into a second or third term.
  8. They may have a paid manager funded by a membership fee, which is sometimes subsidised by the local council.
  9. They enable the better retailers can play a mentoring role for the weaker ones.
  10. They can play a critical role in lobbying both local and state governments to improve the place. Add a comment

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