Rushall Crescent traffic analysis

The traffic analysis for Rushall Crescent was collated over a one week period and consisted of 6x 1 hour observation sessions, collecting data for Rushall Crescent’s car, bike and pedestrian population.

The infographics are designed to be self-explanatory but overall, the results of the traffic analysis underline one significant detail – that the car population of Rushall Crescent is by and large foreign to its local context. Beyond this, no other major anomalies apply. Simply put, the car population of Rushall Crescent relies on it as a means of travel between Queens Parade and St. Georges Road via Park Street and beyond.

20141001 rushall crescent traffic #1

As expected, the above data clearly highlights the car dominance of the street in proportion to bicycles and pedestrians on all occasions. Rushall Crescent is statistically the cars domain. More or less, there is an even distribution in either direction – red bars pertain to traffic headed toward Queens Parade and grey bars pertain to data headed city bound to Park Street. This means that Rushall Crescent doesn’t particularly service cars from one side any more than it does the other. Furthermore, arrival and departure data emphasises car users’ reliance on Rushall Crescent as a major traffic thoroughfare, as only a small percentage of residential traffic (7% total arrivals or departures) make up the overall traffic statistics.

So what does this mean? Rushall Crescent was initially selected for its asymmetric character, variable cross section and for its generous but underutilised 10.5m nature strip on one side. This nature strip, which represents 42% of the total street makeup, was identified as an opportunity to develop “bad” green space. What the traffic analysis brings to the fore however is that while the nature strip lacks value as green space, it works perfectly well as a nature strip by increasing the distance of pedestrians to the high volume of adjacent car traffic.

20141001 rushall crescent traffic #2

Through extrapolation, this image graphically outlines that the only time when there is no more than a single car occupying Rushall Crescent is during weekday nights. Every other time of the week, at least one car enters before the preceding one departs.

20141001 rushall crescent traffic #3

This final image outlines the average stay for cyclists and pedestrians as well as a detailed cross section of the street. The most telling insight pertains to the nature in which bypassing traffic enters and exits the street. In both directions at every observation time, cars more often than not traverse in packs. This further highlights Rushall Crescent as a transitional linkage street for drivers, who access it in time with nearby traffic lights.

Rushall Crescent is predominantly lined with medium density residential dwellings, aside from the lower density retirement village which conveniently sits behind the large 10.5m nature strip. Besides cars, Rushall Crescent also services bus routes #250 and #251 from the city to La Trobe University and Northland Shopping Centre respectively. It is a major traffic linkage, as its consistent traffic survey results show, rather than a convenient rat run for cars. Whilst asphalt does make up 48% of Rushall Crescent’s street makeup, for these reasons as well as a lack of any true anomalies in traffic analysis, it becomes difficult to justify Rushall Crescent as a suitable street for the Streets Without Cars agenda, despite the initial excitement over its wide streets and nature strip.

Image sources

  1. Traffic mapping, this and subsequent images copyright of author.
  2. Traffic analysis.
  3. Traffic infographic.

Rushall Crescent

Street analysis and selection

As with any design project of any nature, great design results come from a sensitive understanding of the sites with which we intervene. The unsolicited agenda of the Streets Without Cars study project in particular meant we were given the opportunity to select our own street to redesign as opposed to inheriting the site from a client. For me, the area I chose to investigate was a section of the Nicholls Ward in the City of Yarra that includes Collingwood, Fitzroy and North Fitzroy.

20140915 nicholls ward #1

Divided by Alexandra Parade and Smith Street, Collingwood, Fitzroy and North Fitzroy whilst geographically close, offer a distinct difference in street composition and street character. As expected, North Fitzroy is predominantly residential whilst Collingwood and Fitzroy share mixed representation between residential, industrial and retail streets.

20140915 nicholls ward #2

The diverse streets and industrial visual character made picking a Collingwood or Fitzroy street an enticing proposition. What’s not to love about adding a bit of polish to a run-down stretch of street and calling it a job well done? For whatever reason, riding through the streets of all three suburbs had me more partial to the northern side of Alexandra Parade, despite Collingwood and Fitzroy’s industrial charm.

North Fitzroy has the rare nature strip only every so often and yet, its streets feel greener. They’re most definitely wider in general, which on paper means more asphalt, but in conjunction with their large, mature trees means more canopy coverage and more generous space between buildings. And obviously, residential streets are more likely to be less dominated by car and public transport networks than busier retail streets. Strangely enough this makes wide residential streets an illogical product. Why have wider roads only to support less traffic volume? In the context of the project’s agenda however, this extra unnecessary width is a luxury – more space to win back for the pedestrian.

20140915 nicholls ward #3

Rushall Crescent

Rushall Crescent of North Fitzroy jumped out in particular because of its nature strips. There’s your standard 1200mm strip on the western residential side and a massive 10m behemoth of a nature strip on the opposite eastern side, adjacent to a gated retirement village. The road itself caters to cars, bikes and occasional buses, and offers plenty of on street parking – important in the context of North Fitzroy’s illusive to find garage or carport. It also happens to run parallel to the Merri Creek and directly link St. Georges and Brunswick Roads to Heidelberg Road, operating as a traffic highway between these areas. Talk about a confused stretch of asphalt. Or an overachieving stretch, your choice.

The generous nature strip in conjunction with its proximity to the Merri Creek (albeit separated by the retirement village) were Rushall Crescent’s most immediate drawcards, but it was the curious traffic conditions that sparked my enquiry most. Rushall Crescent is not your average residential street, which is why it was selected as the departure point for traffic analysis toward producing a propositional outcome.

What anomalies contribute to Rushall Crescent’s character? Why is it different to your average residential street? And how do these irregularities give us an opportunity to develop a distinctive proposition for Streets Without Cars relative to its individual context?

Note: due to subsequent traffic and community analysis, I made the decision to refocus my attention on the adjacent Falconer Street, which intersects with Rushall Crescent and runs south away from Rushall train station.

Image sources

  1. Street selection, this and subsequent images copyright of author.
  2. Street character.
  3. Street analysis.

Open House Melbourne

Open House Melbourne (OHM) has run on the last weekend of July (or close to) in Melbourne since 2008. Every year, thousands of people gain access to buildings and spaces not generally open to the public, ranging from historic buildings, icons and contemporary architecture.

The original Open House concept was implemented in London in 1992 and still runs today. OHM and its sister events in other cities across the world aim to expose the public to architecture at the urban scale. OHM is a not-for-profit organisation, coordinated by a large team of volunteer architects, and is run purely for the benefit of the wider architectural dialogue.

The concept of OHM is simple: it reinforced the notion that public engagement with our built environment is an important civic issue. The success of this is evident in the large number of people who attend the event (130,000 last year) and document it via various social media outlets. Last year, a crowdfunding campaign augmented ongoing corporate sponsorship and patronage in funding the event.

Within the Melbourne architecture and design calendar, OHM is arguably the single most important event of the year, because it opens up the output of the profession to the general public. It stands in a very small group of likeminded organisations that focus on communicating to the public instead the industry.

20140828 open house #1

20140828 open house #2

20140828 open house #3

20140828 open house #4

20140828 open house #5

20140828 open house #6

20140828 open house #7

20140828 open house #8

20140828 open house #9

Image sources

  1. Where, this and subsequent images copyright of author.
  2. Size.
  3. Programme.
  4. Open House Melbourne description.
  5. Open House London comparison.
  6. Cost.
  7. Project procurement.
  8. Community served.
  9. Project success and expansion.