Places for People: City of Melbourne improving active transport access

The Places for People study reports on a survey of Melbourne city’s street life and suggest improvements. A collaboration between Professor Jan Gehl and the City of Melbourne’s Urban Design Branch, the Places for People 2004 study finds that the city has been regenerated from an “under-utilised and inhospitable” place to “a vibrant, charming 24-hour place” that is “livelier, more attractive and safer than most other city centers found worldwide”.  In 1994, the first study identified targets for attracting more people to the city, including:

  • Improving the pedestrian network by improving links between the city and the Yarra River, introducing more sun, wider footpaths and active facades, repairing missing links and increasing the use of Melbourne’s arcades and laneways
  • Making gathering spaces of excellent quality by redesigning existing squares and providing more urban plazas, improving access for people with disabilities and providing feature lighting
  • Strengthening the street through physical changes by supporting the café lifestyle and increasing the number of cafes, improving the quality of urban furniture, active frontages and discouraging through traffic
  • Encouraging more people to use the streets by attracting more people at night, increasing the residential community, increasing festivals and street markets, increasing the student community and ensuring a range of low to high cost housing choices are provided.


The 2004 evaluation study shows:

  • 3311 per cent increase in apartments between 1982 and 2002
  • 83 per cent more residents between 1992 and 2002
  • 71 per cent more public space on streets and in squares between 1994 and 2004
  • 62 per cent more students in the CBD between 1993 and 2004
  • 275 per cent more cafes and restaurants between 1993 and 2004
  • Pedestrian traffic in the Bourke Street Mall between 1993 and 2004 has nearly doubled from 43,000 people per day to 81,000 per day
  • The Bourke Street Mall (81,000 pedestrians daily) and Swanston Street (60,500 pedestrians daily) now both carry more pedestrians than London’s Regent Street (55,000 pedestrians daily)
  • Night-time pedestrian traffic has increased 98 per cent between 1993 and 2004 reflecting the growth of bars and cafés and a safer, more welcoming environment
  • Laneways program has redeveloped more than 3 kilometres of laneways in the centre.

Discouraging through traffic has occurred to a lesser degree through permanent or temporary closure of laneways, and lunch time street closures.  This is an area which the City is currently working on and has set some goals for the next 10 years, including improving the cycle network, better links to public transport, improved links to surrounding areas and moderating commercial advertising.