Walkability of train stations

Train station precincts with more shops and apartment blocks are key to getting residents walking, a new report has found.

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) researchers have examined 230 Melbourne train stations to identify precincts with potential to become activity centres.

Stations in the Melbourne’s north and south-east were found to be ripe for redevelopment.

Author Dr Lucy Gunn from the RMIT Centre for Urban Research said stations like Bentleigh, Murrumbeena, Mentone, Preston and Reservoir had “good bones”’ for redevelopment to become activity centres, or Transit Oriented Developments (TODs).

“If we want to reduce car dependency and get the most out of our train stations, redeveloping the area around them is the best way to encourage walking, cycling and active public transport use,” Dr. Gunn said.

For stations to become activity centres, extra infrastructure such as supermarkets or bicycle storage are needed to make residents nearby more active.

“Rethinking train stations to make them about more than just transport is the future for a more healthy, liveable Melbourne,” Dr. Gunn said.

To assess the potential of metropolitan train stations the team looked at 14 walkability features such as access to community resources, convenience stores, schools and other transport modes.

Stations like South Yarra, Prahran and Balaclava were identified as highly walkable, having been designed to encourage walking and cycling, maximise public transport use and boost the health and wellbeing of nearby residents.

Stations that did poorly tended to be in Melbourne’s outer ring.

Lack of connecting transport and activity centre features makes it hard for people to get to stations, which leaves them to rely on driving Dr. Gunn said.

“The recent announcement for 25 new carparks at Melbourne train stations by Scott Morrison will be welcomed by those living in outer areas where access to connecting transport, such as buses, is sparse and poorly provisioned.”

Dr. Gunn says that for some stations, Melbourne could do far more with the car parking spaces.

Instead a mixed use of the space, including retail developments, apartments and underground parking could be the answer she said.

Dr. Gunn said the findings of the report can be used to mitigate low walkability by using development strategies informed by the train station types and based on the features of the most walkable train station neighbourhoods.

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