Best move for city traffic
URBAN analyst Alec McHarg says pedestrians should be front and centre in the debate over Coffs Harbour's Pioneer Park.
Coffs Harbour City Council wants to include the current green space, which is officially a road reserve, in an inner city ring road system, with part of the area retained and improved as parkland.
But Dr McHarg, a Coffs Harbour resident, says this plan misses the point, which is to have 'walkable' city precincts free from traffic rather than encouraging people to drive and park.
"We drive to a place to enjoy ourselves, rather than walking there," he said.
"This is one reason why we have an obese population and it is getting worse.
"In Europe people are much fitter and in better shape, because they walk around.
"Engineers and planners 'get off' on roads.
"I understand why they want a road here - it is for technical reasons and it is expedient and easy, but it is very bad urban planning."
Dr McHarg said Australia had inherited a 'roads first' philosophy from the United Kingdom and America.
By contrast, in a large housing complex he had studied in Berlin, full of parks and bicycles, everyone was friendly and welcoming.
The Chairman of the CBD Masterplan Committee, Rod McKelvey, said they were trying to 'retro-fit' existing CBD roads to be nearer to Dr McHarg's ideal.
He said the whole premise of the Masterplan was to make as many areas of the CBD pedestrian-friendly as possible.
"We want to slow down motor vehicles and encourage pedestrians and outdoor restaurants by widening footpaths in Park Ave, Gordon and Vernon Sts, like Harbour Drive," Mr McKelvey said
He said the bypass road was part of the mechanism to get East-West through traffic out of the CBD.
Coffs Harbour Mayor Denise Knight said she hoped it was possible to find a compromise which satisfied the traffic congestion but still provided a nice place to sit.
"We do value green space, but we are a regional city and we don't have the public transport that the metros have," Cr Knight said.
Have your say on the artist's impression of the proposed park design by emailing editor@ coffscoastadvocate .com.au