Movement & Place and the design of safe & successful places
Our Exploring the Movement and Place Framework project, led by Transport for NSW, with research from Swinburne University of Technology, is now complete, and a final report on the project has been released. That report is downloadable at the bottom of this page.
What is Movement and Place?
There’s quite a bit of work going on around the country in the Movement and Place sphere, especially in terms of achieving the desired place objectives whilst also creating safe system aligned environments. But just what is Movement and Place? This definition is from the Government Architect New South Wales:
Movement and Place is a cross-disciplinary, “place-based” approach to the planning, design, delivery, and operation of transport networks. It creates a shared language and approach to help all stakeholders achieve better place outcomes for the people of NSW. It considers the whole street including footpaths, from property line to property line. It takes into account the needs of all users of this space including pedestrians, cyclists, deliveries, private vehicles and public transport, as well as people spending time in those places, whether moving around the place or enjoying street life including outdoor dining, waiting for a bus or watching the world go by.
It also should be said that Movement and Place is about more than simply transport improvements. It aims to bring about social, environmental, and economic improvements for the entire community.
The project’s objectives
In order to strive for these outcomes, this project used the Movement and Place Framework set out by the Government Architect NSW, to:
…guide the development and testing of a prototype streetscape design assessment system using immersive virtual environments (IVE), to gain insights into citizen perceptions of design elements and safe system treatments. The insights gained from this study will contribute to balancing vehicle movement with place-making and pedestrian perceptions of safety in future street design, thus facilitating the development of safe and successful places.
This project tried to answer the following questions:
- Can immersive virtual environments be used to assess the impact of pedestrian-oriented urban design elements and safe system treatments on pedestrians’ perceptions of safety and place?
- How do safety treatments enhance or diminish pedestrians’ perception of safety and place, and is it possible to rank or prioritise pedestrian-oriented urban design elements and safe system treatments based on pedestrians’ perceptions?
- Do street trees and other forms of street landscaping improve pedestrians’ perception of safety and place?
Answers to these questions would ‘… inform Transport for NSW and local councils toward development and planning of high-quality successful places in both existing and greenfield areas.’ This project was also developed with the Future Transport Strategy 2056 and Towards Zero vision in mind.
It should also be mentioned that it was the original intention of this project to conduct this project with user feedback via the use of virtual reality headsets. The intervention of the COVID-19 pandemic put a stop to that, so instead the project pivoted to using a game engine, collecting its data via 360-degree immersive video.
The project revealed a wide range of insights, including:
- Use of immersive virtual environments within an online survey is an effective method for community engagement for streetscapes
- Increasing separation from moving traffic make main streets significantly less stressful.
- Cycle lanes outperform barrier fences in making positive contribution to perceived safety and place.
- Increasing tree canopy coverage makes a significant positive place contribution and should be undertaken in conjunction with other safety and place treatments
Even though this project had a method pivot forced upon it by the pandemic, it has still demonstrated that this research approach provided great insight, it also highlights the need for additional work in this area.
That additional work could include:
- The study could be extended to include in-person assisted e-participation that would be more inclusive for older adults and increase accessibility for people with visual impairment.
- Further study on immersion for IVE experiences through controlled environment experiments.
- Expansion of the range of streetscape variables.
- The results from the study suggest further testing of designs that combine multiple street treatments, such as:
- Cycle lanes combined with Wombat crossings
- Wombat crossing’ combined with reduced speed, cycle lanes, and increased tree canopy
Download the report
Click the button below to download the final report, Exploring balance between movement and place in designing safe and successful places.
Included is a review of research relevant to the project, the research methodology, the project results, and a discussion of the methods and results.