Bill Bennett on how an urban transport framework evolved from British PM Boris Johnson and his bike
A Movement and Place Framework gives infrastructure planners a tool to balance the needs of developing urban locations with the means to travel between them.
Arup advisory services leader Elizabeth Halsted says the Movement and Place Framework first developed when UK prime minister Boris Johnson was mayor of London. Johnson wanted to deliver a promised £1 billion cycling programme.
His planners struggled to find enough room to accommodate bicycles, pedestrians, cars and trucks on a limited amount of road space. Halsted says they realised they needed to come up with a framework to reallocate road space in a balanced way. It would help make the difficult decisions about what to put where. The framework started by asking questions about what sort of place they wanted to create and then looking at the kinds of movement to fit around it.
The Movement and Place framework they came up with puts place at the heart of everything. This is a departure from traditional ways of city planning which had always started with movement.
"Until now the car has always had priority, but with the trend towards creating more liveable cities there's a need for a different approach that combines transport planning with land use decision making," she says. "One of the challenges for transport and infrastructure delivery is that road space is limited. There's always been a struggle on how you deliver because often it is lead by transport models. This is just about movement and has been lead by looking at traditional benefit-cost ratios.
"The focus is on vehicle speed, movement efficiency and creating capacity for traffic.
"You can't squeeze everything in. The car has been a priority, but as people want to build more liveable cities you need to put place first. This can include public transport, cycling and pedestrians, but place is at the heart of it".
Halsted was part of the team working on the framework in London and came back to Auckland to set it up here. Today she is working on projects in New Zealand including one in Palmerston North as well as Australia and the UK.
In London, Johnson set up a roads task force made up of academics, local councils, Transport for London and groups like cycling advocates, car drivers and the freight industry.
"He brought them all together and developed a framework called Movement and Place," says Halstead.
"It works by putting place at the heart of everything and then looking at the place's importance from a local, regional, national and even international perspective.
"Next you look at movement and the importance of the local streets, through roads or highways."
From there the task force determined a set of nine typologies, in effect different types of place, each with a different set of needs. Halsted describes this as taking a reading network and putting a lens over it.
"Globally everybody is struggling with this.
"The only way to solve the problem is for everyone to collaborate across modes and across agencies.
"It gets the council working with Auckland Transport and others. It also brings in a good strong governance. No one takes sole responsibility, it's about collective responsibility. It also provides a consistent way to measure benefits and to work out where your spend is.
Dividing areas into nine typologies means giving different movement priorities in different places, Halsted says. "The car can't be king everywhere, but it car remains important. The framework is about making sure cars get priority in certain places while pedestrians and cyclists get priority elsewhere.
They can't have priority everywhere, but you can give them a minimal level of service and a safe level of service. You allocate different levels of service for each of the nine typologies with each of them linking back to the place-first planning approach.
"One of the challenges that's happened globally is that as cycling has increased there is a demand for high levels of cycling service and design everywhere.
"You can't afford to put segregated cycling routes everywhere.
"This is about prioritising where you put them and giving cyclists something that it part of a network.
"It all links back to your strategic modal network. What sort of place do you have or want and how important is each modal network. If you wanted to put high levels of cycling everywhere it would bring vehicle movement to a halt."
Halsted says setting typologies is good for developers. It means they know the type of street they are building their development on and the service they will need to deliver. The framework feeds through to the urban design manual. Halsted says it also informs maintenance, which is something that has been missing in the past.
Movement and Place planning helps decision makers prioritise. It means for example that with freight you know you'll have certain levels of service down certain roads. The approach separates freight from servicing and deliveries.
"Heavy freight is important, moving goods from a to b is essential and its important there are high levels of reliability for routes the freight industry uses," says Halsted.
"Things are different with deliveries, as you are getting right in among the place. We've had good feedback from freight industry about separating this."
Elsewhere the Place and Movement approach aids sustainability. "It's a good way to deliver good safety outcomes, this is one of the approaches that we are doing in Melbourne. This works with the full wellbeing outcomes Treasury is pushing.
"Safety is often seen in isolation but with Movement and Place you can have different levels of service, such as speed management. You wouldn't put slow speed zones in everywhere but you would put them where there is high value of place such as in the central city or around schools.
"This is what they have done in London and are starting to do in Melbourne. They are looking at it in Sydney and in Palmerston North."
Tim Williams Q&A
What are the lessons learnt globally where you can effectively use transport infrastructure to generate housing and regeneration benefits?
Tim Williams: Transport can make or break cities. When cities grow bigger, there is the opportunity to make them better. At the heart of that change, is ensuring land use and transport are as integrated as possible. This means ensuring that when we develop at higher density, we also deliver a timely and appropriate improvement to mass transit.
Herald: What role does governance play in delivering good housing outcomes in both cities and regions?
Williams: Housing is easier to deliver than great places, though both can sometimes be difficult to achieve. To both increase the number and variety of housing — and make great places — require collaborations across government and between the public and private sectors and indeed the community.
Herald: How does having a long-term vision help deliver good housing and transport infrastructure benefits in the region? Do city or regional deals help?
Williams: Delivery without vision is the headless chicken scenario, though vision without delivery is also. The great thing about city or regional deals is that they bring key players in a city or region together with government to focus on a shared strategy and the key moves that will maximise local benefits. City and regional deals are 'musts' it seems to me.
Herald: How do you deliver good local housing outcomes and benefits cheaply and quickly with tight funding constraints? How can we learn lessons from overseas?
Williams: Cash-constrained governments everywhere are looking for new income streams to help fund infrastructure. Transport for London has been leasing its public land back for much needed housing right by its train stations — 40 per cent of it being affordable rental. A big new rail link, Crossrail, is being part funded by a higher business rate for businesses which benefit. In some places, we see people whose housing has increased in value because of public investment in infrastructure agreeing to pay an area betterment levy to help pay for the infrastructure. Innovation is required and can create a win-win for all.
• Dr Tim Williams is Australasia Cities Leader for Arup.