Gehl Architects "A people oriented vision for Brisbane"

CBD BUG post

This report already said everything we ever said - back in 2009.

Recently we revisited Gehl - Making Cities for People 2008-09 report on Brisbane, “A people-oriented vision for Brisbane”. The world famous Danish architect Jan Gehl visited Brisbane and produced a three part, 108 page report as part of the "River City Blueprint". We discovered the original documents are available through the Internet Archive.

In his report, Gehl was able to call upon his vast experience of other cities worldwide. Every single page has an example
of what “Best Practice” for the page theme is. Every single page could also be the theme of a post on this page.

“Brisbane has very low cyclability due to lack of cycle infrastructure. Current initiatives are inadequate and seem to avoid the key territorial conflict in which road space must be allocated to bicycles.”

“Currently most bicycle infrastructure in Brisbane seems geared towards cycling as a leisure activity rather than a mode of transport.”

“When driving increases, so does the pressure for more car-centric infrastructure, which again increases driving and thereby exacerbates the problem it was meant to solve - a downward and unsustainable spiral.”

“Pedestrians and cyclists should always be able to take the shortest and most direct route between A and B”.

After years reading Brisbane City Council petition responses and advertising, it’s amazing and refreshing to read a document about Brisbane where “upgrade” means “improve the pedestrian and cycling environment” instead of “futilely widen this road, remove crossings, add slip lanes, and turn it into a car sewer”, and “balance” actually means “give people the option to walk or ride” instead of “screw you and your petition because cars”. Other words used frequently (never by BCC) are “proximity” in relation to mixed land use, “downscaling” roads and intersections, and “permeability” for cyclist and pedestrian connections.

The report’s explicit vision of reallocation of space away from cars is missing even from the 2018 Draft Transport Plan for Brisbane.

It envisions revising helmet laws, removing Leopard St and the Riverside Expressway, making Ann Street a "main bicycle artery" and turning Victoria Park into public space (instead of taking chunks for ICB widening).

It is depressing to think how little has changed in the last decade - vast amounts have been spent on tunnels and road widenings while the public realm has got the crumbs. Brisbane remains the only city in the world to commission such an expensive report from Gehl Architects and then ignore all the recommendations.

The Internet Archive shows the whole River City Blueprint was effectively canned because of the January 2011 flood (and possibly the March 2012 Newman election) -

... can it be revisited somehow?

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Great work in finding this, Richard.



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