Thursday, July 31, 2008

New plan for Melbourne sees no future for cars

John Masanauskas

July 31, 2008 12:00am

THE number of cars coming into the CBD would be slashed and the maximum speed limit set at 30km/h under a bold plan to improve Melbourne's liveability.

The proportion of workers travelling to the city by car must fall from about a third to only 10 per cent by 2020, according to a report to the City of Melbourne.

The Future Melbourne plan wants bikes to become the preferred mode of transport and calls for a European-style bike rental system.

"The municipality's focus on cars has driven walking off the streets and has destroyed the charm and aesthetic value of our municipality's streetscape," the report says.

But former premier Jeff Kennett warned the council not to alienate motorists.

"If you want to reduce the number of work trips taken by car, how are people physically going to get there?" he said.

"If you want to turn Melbourne into Paris or Amsterdam and make it more bicycle conducive, what are you going to do with the tram lines and everything else? No one is thinking long-term."

The Future Melbourne plan is the product of the most ambitious consultation project undertaken by the city council.

About 15,000 individuals, business and community groups contributed to the report, which could form the basis of council planning over the next decade.

The targets include:

MELBOURNE City's population to grow by more than 50 per cent to 140,000.

ZERO net carbon emissions.

DRINKING water use to be reduced by 40 per cent per resident and 50 per cent per worker, compared to 2000.

20 PER CENT of new housing to be affordable, or social, accommodation.

While the report called for a big reduction in car use, it stopped short of advocating a London-style congestion tax for the inner city.

Lord Mayor John So said the council preferred to change the culture of travel to the city and improve public transport.

"Public transport at the moment is one of the challenges facing Melbourne," he said.

The report called on the State Government to reconsider a fast rail link to the airport and a very fast train service between Melbourne and Sydney to help cope with population growth.

Reference group chair Carol Schwartz said the targets were achievable.

"I think it's very ambitious and I think it's great to be ambitious," she said.

Council CEO Kathy Alexander said the ideas should be taken seriously because of the vast community input.

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