Accessible Canberra

In an accessible city, everyone can easily and safely access jobs, services and activities. An accessible city is convenient to move around in a variety of ways. Ensuring everyone has quality access to housing, jobs and activities is central to a socially fair society and thriving community.

Canberra was designed around low-density suburbs with ample open space, serviced by the commercial centres hierarchy. This structure remains. As Canberra grows we need to enhance and add services, transport options and opportunities for people to choose how they live, where they live, how they work and get around.

Major changes are taking place to accommodate our growing city.

The first stage of our light rail network is being constructed, urban renewal is transforming parts of our city and we have committed to a carbon neutral future. Our population is growing, technology is changing and we need to plan for providing a positive level of services and facilities to continue the liveability and accessibility for Canberrans.

A Movement and Place Framework (Figure 6) underpins the future directions for an integrated transport and land use network.

The framework provides a base for balancing the dual function of streets: moving people and goods; and enhancing the places they connect and pass through. It acknowledges that the needs and expectations of place making and land use differ for different spaces and places. Realising successful spaces and places means better integrating land use and transport planning in a way that supports the community and freight to move safely, efficiently and reliably while enhancing the liveability and amenity of spaces and places.

Figure 6: The movement and place framework
The diagram is describing the different types of streets and places we have in a city which include high intensity vehicular roads at one end of the scale and places for people at the other. The diagram indicates buildings, cars and buses, a light rail carriage and people walking and cycling.  The diagram includes motorways which are strategically significant, roads that move people and goods rapidly over long distances; Movement corridors which provide safe, reliable and efficient movement of people and goods between regions and strategic centres; Vibrant streets which have a high demand for movement as well as place with a need to balance different demands within available road space; Local streets are part of the fabric of the suburban neighbourhoods where we live our lives and facilitate local community access; Places for people which are streets with high demand for activities and lower levels of vehicle movement. They create places people enjoy, attract visitors, and are places communities value.

Direction 5.1 - Enhance transport accessibility

Enhance accessibility by better integrating transport and land use.

Accessibility can be improved by expanding transport options to make it easier and safer for the community to travel between places. It can also be improved by locating jobs, services, activities and housing closer together. Making Canberra more compact and efficient will improve accessibility by reducing the distance between destinations and the barriers to moving between and within them.

The government is improving the integration of the transport network and investing in light rail, the new bus network, cycling and walking infrastructure and roads. Expanding movement options improves accessibility by making it easier to travel between destinations by public transport, walking and cycling, as well as by car.

There are significant benefits associated with transport oriented developments within key centres.

The Movement and Place Framework helps us manage the road network in a way that enables people to easily travel to and from centres and move around within them. High quality roads, cycling paths and footpaths support attractive places for people, and strong local economies to develop and thrive.

The Movement and Place Framework also refers to the movement of goods between regions and strategic centres. A road network that is efficient and effective for the movement of freight is critical to support the economic development of the Canberra region.

This issue is addressed under Diverse Canberra (Direction 2.6).

Improving accessibility by walking, cycling and public transport will be increasingly important to reduce emissions. The transport sector will contribute more than 60% of the ACT's emissions in 2020 when we switch to 100% renewable electricity. This means transport will become a main focus for achieving the ACT's climate change target of achieving net zero emissions by 2045.


5.1.1 Support the integrated transport network by focussing urban intensification in town centres and around group centres and along the major public transport routes, and balancing where greenfield expansion occurs.

5.1.2 Support the delivery of the government's transport strategy to expand movement options (particularly active travel) and the delivery of the government's Climate change strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport.

5.1.3 Investigate parking provision requirements to support broader government accessibility and transport policy, including reviews of:

  • Parking and Vehicular Access General Code in the Territory Plan
  • accessible parking
  • fees and charges
  • parking arrangements in locations with high demand

5.1.4 Plan and strategically locate community infrastructure, services and open space in order to optimise accessibility and meet the needs of a growing and changing population.

Direction 5.2 - Deliver well designed, safe and sustainable streets and public spaces

Deliver well designed, safe and sustainable streets and public spaces to create walkable neighbourhoods that are inclusive and fair.

Walkable neighbourhoods are supported by building and planning at a human scale. They have lively centres, connections between where people live and key destinations and services, and good links to public transport. Planning for quality footpaths with clear signage and safe crossings benefit all, regardless of ability, and support physical and mental health outcomes.

Being able to access these places easily by active travel or public transport encourages people to be more physically active reducing sedentary lifestyle. The Movement and Place Framework recognises that places for people are locations with high demand for activities and lower levels of vehicle movement. It facilitates creating places for people to enjoy, where communities can move safely around public spaces and where people can meet, interact and linger.

Our city needs to be accessible to provide choice, access to services and facilities and to serve a diverse population including the needs of people living with a disability or disadvantage. Being able to access employment, education and essential services is key to people's wellbeing, opportunities and social inclusion. We will provide services and facilities to support communities, and choices in housing, transport, employment and recreation.

Canberra's population is ageing. Maintaining accessibility for people as they age will provide for social inclusion and fairness. Prioritising people in the planning and design of our neighbourhoods will deliver age-friendly suburbs with supporting infrastructure, traffic calming and improved connectivity to schools, services and public transport; it creates opportunities for social interaction.

Although our city is ageing, Canberra still has one of the youngest average populations in Australia. This is why we must also plan our neighbourhood for younger Canberrans, to positively support the development, of happiness and well-being.

This prioritisation for children and young people in the design and delivery of easily accessible spaces, such as parks, shops and schools, accessible transport options and multi use destinations will support child-friendly communities that enable greater social inclusion


5.2.1 Apply the Movement and Place Framework in future precinct planning to recognise people and place in the design and function of precincts. Include the following principles:

  • permeable street layouts
  • safe and efficient active travel routes connected to centres, schools, public transport and local activities
  • support emerging transport trends such as bike share and car share

5.2.2 Support the Active Travel Office to improve walking and cycling network connectivity and urban amenity, particularly close to key transport corridors, local and town centres and education institutions

5.2.3 Through place making and improved urban design, deliver high quality streets and places to facilitate social inclusion, activity and improve accessibility.

Direction 5.3 - Create better walking and cycling experiences

Create a better experience for walking and cycling into and within the city centre and our town centres.

Walkable city centres are not only comfortable and safe to walk in, but also interesting, offering a range of activities and having a sense of buzz and liveliness. As Canberra's city centre grows and changes, walking and cycling will be prioritised in the city centre to enhance amenity and liveliness, and urban design will contribute to creating better places and spaces.


5.3.1 Work with the City Renewal Authority and other partners to create high quality, lively and safe streets and public spaces in the city centre that encourage walking, cycling and public transport use.

5.3.2 Support the development of high quality, lively and safe streets and public spaces in our town centres that encourage walking, cycling and public transport use.

5.3.3 Review parking arrangements in the city centre and develop a city parking strategy

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