City leaders need to think beyond the parking space and activate streets for new, sustainable ways of living and moving around. Otherwise, we will fail local places and communities, say Ashleigh Cormack and Graham Pointer
Kerbsides need to work harder
The kerbside – the road lane and footpath area on either side of the kerb – is often overlooked by city planners. But it’s an integral part of the urban fabric. It is where the street’s two primary functions meet: the movement of cars, buses and bikes that connect our communities; and the creation of place, in terms of trees, lighting, seating and access to shops and restaurants. Too often, this space is given over to “static” uses such as car parking, rather than actively supporting local businesses and encouraging newer forms of mobility. Instead of perpetuating outdated 20th-century city models, we should be designing streetscapes to be future-ready, with governments, businesses and the community all playing a role.
Drop-off is the new parking
Street design should reflect how we want people to access places, by facilitating the most sustainable, efficient journeys. Likely changes over the coming decades include the rise of app-driven rideshares and zero-emission automated vehicles. City authorities can incentivize these new modes by reducing parking spaces for private cars and allocating more of the kerbside for pick-up/drop-off. This will have the knock-on effect of improving access to restaurants, cafes and shops during peak periods. Electric vehicles will become more prevalent, so charging infrastructure may be needed in certain streets and at bus-stops – although such a static use of the kerbside may be less desirable in busy civic spaces and high streets. Ideally, charging at or near home will become the norm.