Adelaide: can it really be liveable?

Adelaide’s going through a transformative period at the moment, a key feature of which is the decision to promote medium density living in areas close to the city. In theory it offers a way of living which is completely different to that of the town historically. In particular it will encourage the cafe nature of Melbourne’s inner city suburbs. At the moment these are largely impossible to sustain in a town known for its low density living and almost total reliance upon cars.

One can see it is moot whether it will work, or whether the attractive qualities of the inner suburbs which include beautiful large homes on large blocks will be destroyed to be replaced by ghastly developments like the high rises which are rife in Melbourne and seem to be gaining an ascendancy in Adelaide too.

But at any rate, supposing it does work, it is by no means sufficient. One of the problems Adelaide faces to a far greater degree than Melbourne or Sydney is the width of its roads and the relentless pressure of heavy traffic on those roads. This applies even to small stretches of roads in inner city suburbs such as Unley Rd and King William Rd. The traffic is visually and aurally offensive and it is dangerous to pedestrians. If a pedestrian can’t easily and safely cross from one side of a road to another, the idea of high street just doesn’t work.

InDaily recently raised these issued in a piece that discussed the idea of radical decreases in speed limits in such areas. One of the readers was mystified by the observation that this would actually make traffic flow better, but the explanation was obvious. If car traffic is travelling at 30kph instead of 60kph, pedestrians can cross the road without needing to do so with the safety of a crossing protected by a red light for the cars. They don’t need such large gaps in the traffic to make the trip. They don’t need to make cars stop in order to cross the road. READ THAT car drivers!

Medium density living can only work if the speed limit on main roads is radically reduced. Otherwise you are subjecting the residents to visual torture, aural distress and physical threat. Small business, which will be a key ingredient to making all this work is also threatened.

Every time I come back to Adelaide I’m saddened by a CBD and inner-city which is utterly dominated still by the needs of the car. Ugggh. A small section of Prospect Rd has been brave enough to try to reverse this trend. Let’s see other parts of Adelaide support the philosophy. Without it, transforming Adelaide will never happen.


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