A new discussion paper which sets out proposals to encourage Australians to use healthier and more environmentally friendly means of commuting has been welcomed by the green building and construction industry in Australia.
Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) executive director of advocacy Robin Mellon says a nationally-agreed-upon strategy is required to increase participation rates in walking, riding and public transport use.
“A growing body of research demonstrates the social, environmental, economic and health benefits of encouraging people to engage in alternative forms of transport,” Mellon says. “However, increasing levels of walking, riding and public transport use will require strategic thinking and cooperation from all levels of government, industry and the community.”
Released on Monday by Transport Minister Anthony Albanese, the discussion paper explores 16 possible ways in six key areas to reduce dependence upon cars through better planning, new infrastructure and lifestyle changes.
The six areas are:
- Working within a clear hierarchy of planning
- Creating a safe environment for pedestrians and bicycles
- Leveraging infrastructure investment
- Designing networks of continuous, convenient connections
- Incorporating pedestrian and bicycle facilities when building other infrastructure
- Providing consistent standards and guidelines, monitoring and evaluation
Albanese says eight out of 10 commuting trips around the country are still undertaken by car, and that if nothing is done, the annual estimated cost of urban congestion throughout Australia will rise from $13 billion now to $20 billion by 2020.
Mellon says Green Star rating tools, especially the recently-released Green-Star Communities rating tool, will help governments and developers integrate land use and transport planning from early stages of development and create the appropriate infrastructure and safe environments for walking, riding and accessing public transport.
“Most importantly, Green Star – Communities will assist in the design of precincts, neighbourhoods and communities that encourage people to interact with their surroundings and each other, bringing them out of their cars and into the streets,” Mellon says.
Albanese has called for public feedback on the paper, with the feedback period extending until January 31 of next year.