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Welcome to this Department of Transport and Main Roads presentation for local governments called Lighter Quicker Cheaper: Low cost solutions to revitalise Queensland streets and places.
This is a joint presentation between the Active Transport and Traffic Engineering teams at the Department of Transport and Main Roads, or TMR.
I’m Andrew Ross, and I’m the Pedestrian Planner for the Active Transport Team.
And I’m Delia Atkinson, Senior Engineer in Traffic Engineering.
We’d like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we are speaking today, and pay our respects to elders past, present and emerging.
Watch this short video to learn more about how TMR is providing an integrated transport system for Queensland.
The webinar is split into two sections:
The first introduces the concept of Lighter Quicker Cheaper.
The second walks you through a framework for preparing, delivering and evaluating projects.
It includes case studies from Queensland and elsewhere to help understand what’s possible, and provides advice and support from TMR’s Chief Engineer.
You can pause, replay or skip slides as you watch the presentation.
The phrase lighter quicker cheaper was first used in the 1970s by Eric Reynolds, Founding Director of Urban Space Management. It is shorthand for describing initiatives that create small temporary changes to test how to make a place, space or street more inviting for people. Evaluating the initiative informs decisions about whether to spend more money to make the changes permanent.
This approach, also known as tactical urbanism, is an effective way of testing the reallocation of road space to make it safer, pleasant and more attractive for people, especially when walking or using other active transport.
For example, the picture on the left shows a temporary revitalisation of an inner city laneway in Brisbane using art and performance.
The photo on the right shows community groups celebrating PARK(ing) Day in 2019. This internationally observed event is an example of a lighter quicker cheaper approach to reconfiguring street space. People are invited to convert kerbside car parking into parklets to demonstrate how space could be used differently to encourage more active use.
In summary, a lighter quicker cheaper approach is:
- temporary, but could be made permanent
- low cost
- community based, and
- small-scale, but scaleable.
This presentation is illustrated by lighter quicker cheaper examples from around the world. It includes case studies, some of which are from Queensland. As you’ll see from the presentation, often the most powerful way of describing what lighter quicker cheaper looks like is using Before and After images.
In the example on this slide, the Before image shows the dangerous crossing conditions for students outside a school in Toronto, Canada. The temporary solution included closing the road outside of the school at drop-off and pick-up times for one week. This dramatically increased the sense of safety for all ages: up from 23% to 97%. It also decreased by 20% the number of students coming to school by car.
As the slide sets out, the level of intervention ranges from very small scale – garden beds or the removal of a single car park – through to more significant changes such as a street closure.
In 2019 the Queensland Government consulted on its model code called Creating Healthy and Active Communities: Mandatory provisions for neighbourhood design.
The consultation confirmed that there is strong stakeholder support for more walkable neighbourhoods in the state.
Creating walkable communities, both in existing and future areas, requires a rethink of how we use space. Lighter quicker cheaper initiatives can help to demonstrate the community benefits of creating safe and pleasant spaces for walking. These include:
- Helping people to maintain physical and mental health by creating environments that encourage activity and interaction
- Revitalising local economies by creating spaces for new activities such as cafes and markets, which can also attract people to existing businesses
- Increasing accessibility and social inclusion for people who do not have access to a car, or who do not drive, such as children, older people and people with a disability
- Creating additional evidence about community aspirations and how people would like to use their local area.
A major consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the impacts on transport systems and services.
The need to achieve physical distancing when travelling without creating gridlock has prompted governments around the world to look at temporary ways to reallocate space for safe active travel. In time, temporary reallocations that work well may become permanent.
These initiatives utilise a lighter quicker cheaper approach. The photo shows an example from Brookline in the US where more space has been created for walking and bike riding, and there are now many examples worldwide. We have provided a Resources page towards the end of this presentation that provides links to further information.
The Queensland Walking Strategy, published in 2019, includes a range of actions that local governments can take to improve walking environments. Watch out for an increasing number of resources from TMR to councils to achieve this. Lighter quicker cheaper improvements and initiatives are a good place to start.
The remainder of this presentation takes you through some of the elements to consider when planning lighter quicker cheaper initiatives, and presents examples from Queensland and elsewhere to inspire you to get started.
Lighter quicker cheaper initiatives work best when they align with strategic thinking.
Some local governments in Queensland already have a suitable framework. For example, Cairns Regional Council and the City of Ipswich have active transport strategies.
The consultant Arup has produced a useful tool to assist governments create a strategic framework to guide locations and ideas for lighter quicker cheaper projects. The tool is included in its guide called Tactical Urbanism; there is a link on the Selected Resources page later in this presentation.
The tool focuses on six things to get right:
- Making the case
The following slides explain this approach.
Involving local people in designing possible initiatives can demonstrate the potential for change and address community concerns about possible impacts.
Any initiative needs to include small, low-cost activities to:
- bring together diverse stakeholders
- generate a collective vision and solutions
- better understand local users' needs at a very local scale – think all ages and abilities – and
- tap into local talents.
In this slide, high school students at a school in Honolulu, in Hawaii, are participating by painting temporary kerb build outs onto the road outside their school. The aims are to reduce the crossing distance for people walking, increase the amount of people space, and help slow traffic.
While community involvement is vital for creating good ideas for local areas, any proposed initiative still needs to adhere to the fundamentals of good design. This means ensuring that the proposal is safe, comfortable, accessible, attractive and convenient.
Changes to a local area – even ones that are temporary to begin with – will almost always have people who are for and against. A lighter quicker cheaper approach provides an opportunity for those in favour to support a scheme, and for others to ‘try before they buy’.
To help make the case you should identify influential external and internal champions, for example, a local politician or other community leader.
You can also use examples from elsewhere. This has never been easier as the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of lighter quicker cheaper approaches. Find examples that resonate with local people and decision makers. Start with the resources listed later in this presentation.
When building support be clear about why the proposed project is worthwhile. You can ask yourself the following questions:
- Will the project make an area safer and more appealing?
- Will it help people of all ages and abilities to access a local facility?
- Are there any local economic opportunities?
- Does it contribute to maintaining health and wellbeing of local people?
- Could it become a tourist attraction?
We have already mentioned the need to propose lighter quicker cheaper projects that have community support, and that link to existing policies and strategies where possible.
TMR is available to assist local governments to try new approaches on local networks that may be applied to fast track delivery of projects (even if on a temporary basis) on critical links on the network. Note that there is no dedicated lighter quicker cheaper funding available from TMR. However, depending on your proposed project, it may be possible to apply to existing funding streams for support.
As you will see from this slide, the TMR Chief Engineer supports the use of the New Zealand Innovating Streets principles to assist with designing and implementing new initiatives.
TMR encourages local governments to test lighter quicker approaches, especially if they have been used successfully elsewhere, while acknowledging that the legislative and policy context will be different. Be reassured that we do not want you to be impeded by traditional ways of doing things provided you can explain what you are trying to achieve, and are willing to evaluate implementation to learn as you go.
There may be local policies that act as a brake on considering new ideas, or proposals that don’t meet existing regulations. If this is the case, be clear about identifying what those policies are, and use champions and supporters to promote the need for change.
Choose materials that reflect the ethos of lighter quicker cheaper. Examples include:
- Modular kerbs as small concrete dividers or parking bumpers
- Flexible bollards as plastic delineators
- Paint and thermoplastic as visual devices
- Planters/haybales to define median strips, traffic islands, kerb extensions and footpaths.
Although lighter quicker cheaper initiatives are temporary, their purpose is to demonstrate how longer term permanent changes could be implemented.
Measuring impact and success helps to make the case to turn a temporary change into a permanent one.
What are you hoping to achieve with this intervention? Are you trying to improve road safety, activate a town centre, encourage walking, or a combination of these? How can you measure against community expectations, and potentially build a case for those who might be sceptical?
Identify relevant data that the council collects currently, or that is available on TMR and other government datasets. TMR’s Active Travel Team can assist.
Build an information baseline prior to implementing your project.
Once it has been installed, continue to engage the community by inviting them to help with collecting data, such as counts and so on, and participating via surveys or other simple ways of measuring community acceptance, such as attendance numbers.
The following case studies are a sample of lighter quicker cheaper improvements and initiatives.
We will summarise the main points; further detail is available on the slides.
Boulia’s 3D Zebra Crossing looks like a conventional crossing for people walking and riding. But it creates a three dimensional illusion for people driving.
The purpose is to encourage drivers to slow down.
The council says that the artwork has led to better safety outcomes and created a popular attraction.
Cairns Regional Council also implemented a 3D Zebra crossing, but found that there were no measurable reductions in speed or improvements to pedestrian safety.
For the record, TMR is happy to consider ‘tactical urbanism’ type treatments using pavement markings. Our key advice is that the markings do not:
- confuse road users
- suggest a change of priority
- distract road users from existing traffic control devices
- adversely affect the skid resistance of the road, and
- impact, if relevant, on the legality of the existing pedestrian crossing.
These pictures show the conversion of three parking spaces to a timber deck for community seating outside a café at Palm Beach, on the Gold Coast.
The purpose was to create more footpath and community space.
The City of Gold Coast says the deck was installed as a trial. Community feedback was positive, and businesses in the street have not been affected by the loss of the parking bays. The deck has been retained permanently.
The City of Maryborough reached back into its heritage to create bespoke pedestrian traffic lanterns. The writer of Mary Poppins, P.L. Travers, was born in the city, and the green and red signals feature the distinctive Mary Poppin’s parasol.
The council reports that the lights have been highly popular with the community, and have become a permanent tourist attraction.
The Western Downs Adopt-a-Tree program encourages local residents and community groups to plant and look after trees to improve their local street environment.
In the first two years 800 residents planted more than 3,500 street trees. Western Downs Regional Council reports that the project has created welcoming and connected community spaces, and is contributing to revitalisation of towns across the region.
Brisbane City Council ran a lighter quicker cheaper initiative to help revitalise Burnett Lane in the city centre. The lane temporarily hosted live art and music installations on Friday nights.
The council evaluated the initiative and found that, one year later, five new bars had opened on the lane. Local businesses reported that turnover increased by around 20 per cent when the activations were on, compared to before. This higher turnover was maintained once the initiative was over.
Auckland Council wanted to improve safety and amenity at a city intersection. They tested proposed improvements including shortening the crossing distance for people walking and installing devices to slow vehicles.
The council found that the trial improvements led to an 85 per cent drop in vehicle speeds, and a 40 per cent cut in the time people spent waiting to cross by foot. The lighter quicker cheaper trial informed the design of the permanent intersection upgrade.
The City of Moreland in Melbourne used a lighter quicker cheaper approach to create a new public open space. The 8-week trial included closing a portion of a dead-end street and replacing it with a pop-up park and a mural honouring the area’s Indigenous heritage.
The purpose of the project was to improve safety and amenity between Brunswick’s main street and the local railway station.
The trial increased safety, with a 40 per cent drop in crime in the area. Community feedback endorsed the project, and led to a permanent conversion of road space to a small urban park.
We have referred multiple times to the resources available to assist local governments and others interested in using a lighter quicker cheaper approach. You can scan these at your leisure; the speaking notes that accompany this slide also include the references used in this presentation.
There is an increasing number of resources available to support local governments to implement lighter quicker cheaper initiatives. Here is a selection, with links.
References to documents and webpages referred to in the presentation.
Lydon, M., and Garcia. A., 2010. Tactical Urbanism: short-term action for long-term change.
Available at: http://tacticalurbanismguide.com/guides/tactical-urbanism-the-book/
BFAS. 2017. Placemaking Plus.
Available at: https://www.placemakingplus.com/placemaking
Images courtesy of 8:80 Cities
Available at: https://www.880cities.org/8-80-streets/
Queensland Government. 2019. Creating Healthy and Active Communities: Mandatory provisions for neighbourhood design
Available at: https://haveyoursay.dsdmip.qld.gov.au/creating-healthy-communities
The Streetplans Collaborative and CoDesign Studio. 2014. Tactical Urbanism 4 (Australia and New Zealand).
Available at: http://tacticalurbanismguide.com/guides/tactical-urbanism-volume-4/
NACTO. 2020. Streets for Pandemic Resource and RecoveryAvailable at: https://nacto.org/streets-for-pandemic-response-recovery/
Queensland Government. 2019. Queensland Walking Strategy.
Available at: www.tmr.qld.gov.au/Travel-and-transport/Pedestrians-and-walking/Queensland-Walking-Strategy
Image courtesy of Activate Auckland
Available at: https://www.activateakl.work/
Arup. 2020. Tactical Urbanism.
Available at: www.arup.com/perspectives/publications/research/section/tactical-urbanism
Image courtesy of Street Plans
Available at: www.street-plans.com/kalihi-quick-build-honolulu-hi/
Image courtesy of City of Gold Coast
More information: www.goldcoast.qld.gov.au/planning-and-building/tactical-urbanism-28328.html
New Zealand Transport Authority. 2020. Innovating Streets for People pilot fund. Available at: https://www.nzta.govt.nz/roads-and-rail/innovating-streets/about/pilot-fund
Images courtesy of Street Plans
More information: www.street-plans.com/news-post/project-page/street-plans-leads-one-day-tactical-urbanism-demonstration-in-garden-grove-ca/
Image courtesy of ArkDes
Slides 17 and 18
Images courtesy of Boulia Shire Council
More information: www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-29/outback-town-3d-pedestrian-crossing/9809394
Images courtesy of City of Gold Coast
More information: www.goldcoast.qld.gov.au/planning-and-building/tactical-urbanism-28328.html
Slides 21 and 22
Images courtesy of Fraser Coast Regional Council
More information: www.frasercoastchronicle.com.au/news/poppins-themed-crossing-lights-will-go-to-council-/3163865/
Slides 23 and 24
Images courtesy of Western Downs Regional Council
More information: www.wdrc.qld.gov.au/living-here/facilities-and-services/parks-and-gardens/adopt-a-street-tree-program/
Slides 25 and 26
Images courtesy of Brisbane City Council
Slides 27 and 28
Images courtesy of NZ Transport Agency
New Zealand Transport Agency. 2020. Sale Street Intersection.
Available at: www.nzta.govt.nz/roads-and-rail/innovating-streets/case-studies/sale-street-intersection/
More information: https://ourauckland.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/articles/news/2019/11/colourful-streetscape-makes-sale-street-safer-for-all/
Images courtesy of Moreland City Council
Moreland City Council. 2016. Wilson Avenue One Year Evaluation Report.
Available at: www.moreland.vic.gov.au/about-us/projects/completed-projects/completed-projects-2015/wilson-avenue-brunswick-public-space/
We hope you have enjoyed this TMR technical presentation on using lighter quicker cheaper initiatives to test interventions that improve local walking environments and public spaces.
If you would like more information, or have a question, please contact TMR’s Walking Team and we’ll be happy to help.
Thank you, and goodbye.