Walkable cities work better for everyone

Walkable cities work better for everyone

Sydney’s future as a globally competitive and liveable city relies on its walkability, according to one of the world’s leading experts on city planning.

Brent Toderian, former chief planner of Vancouver, will share his blueprint for ‘future-proofing’ Sydney at this month’s City Conversation, ‘A Tale of Three Cities’, presented by the City of Sydney.

The free event on Wednesday 22 October will bring together representatives from three cities that are at different stages in delivering world-class facilities and infrastructure.

The talk coincides with Walk21, the leading international conference on walking being staged in Sydney from 21-23 October, co-hosted by the City and the NSW Government.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the talk would be a unique opportunity for Sydney to learn from other great cities and share its own vision.

“We want to hear and share the ideas of experts from around the world on building lively and interesting cities that support business and cater to the needs of residents, workers and visitors,” the Lord Mayor said.

“We’re working hard to create a city that’s easy to navigate – and with the world’s leading walking experts in town as part of Walk21, this is a fantastic opportunity to share ideas on city transformation.

“The City is rolling out an extensive wayfinding network, upgrading our parks and overhauling our streets and laneways to create the ideal environment for walking and cycling.

“We need to ensure that both governments and private developers continue to prioritise the delivery of outstanding facilities for Sydney and its residents now and into the future.”

Mr Toderian, now an international consultant advising on urban planning strategies, believes Vancouver’s experience can be used to further transform Sydney for the better.

“If there was a single silver bullet in complex city-making, walkability would be it,” Mr Toderian said.

“Studies show that walkable cities are much more successful, competitive, healthy, sustainable, liveable, sociable and creative – cities designed to honour the pedestrian work better for everyone. Whether you walk much or not, you benefit from a walkable city.”

C.O.S - Walking Sydney images…Circular Quay and Customs House 2014

Mr Toderian will be joined by speakers from Christchurch and Sydney to complete the ‘three cities’ theme.

Don Miskell, general manager of the Christchurch Central Development Unit at the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, will discuss renewal plans designed to ‘reimagine the heart of Christchurch’ after it was devastated by a series of earthquakes in 2011.

“From this disaster comes an opportunity to totally reform the centre of the city from a social, economic and environmental perspective, to create a sustainable and resilient city,” Mr Miskell said.

“It’s a $40 billion-plus rebuild covering 400 hectares of the oldest and second largest city in New Zealand.”

Graham Jahn, the City’s Director of Planning, Development and Transport, will reveal how major infrastructure projects, such as the upcoming pedestrianisation of George Street, will see Sydney’s centre transformed.

“Careful planning and design are critical to creating an attractive environment. One of the biggest transformations of Sydney is about to get underway with the introduction of the new light rail network and a pedestrian boulevard,” Mr Jahn said.

Sydneysider, four-time Olympic speed walker and three-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Jane Saville will also be a guest speaker at the event.

“Working on projects that get people moving has drawn me into the fascinating area of planning cities for being active,” Ms Saville, holder of five Australian Women’s Race Walking championship titles and an Olympic bronze medal, said.

“Sydney is a wonderful city providing great outdoor activity opportunities to promote the health and wellbeing of us all.”

The speakers will join a discussion panel that will also feature the Lord Mayor and Dr Rodney Tolley, Conference Director of Walk21.

The panel will debate the economic benefits of walking, cycling and active transport, as well as how cultural aspects of walking and cycling, such as laneway activation and public art, can help residents and visitors appreciate a city and its lesser-known treasures.


City Conversations: A Tale of Three Cities – a journey of transformation 

Date:               Wednesday 22 October 2014

Time:              6.30-8pm

Where:            Lower Town Hall – 483 George Street, Sydney (entry via Druitt Street)

Tickets:          Free but limited – booking is essential via ticketmaster.com.au


For media inquiries or images, contact City of Sydney Senior Media Adviser Belinda Wallis. Phone 0447 927 929 or email bwallis@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

For interviews with Lord Mayor Clover Moore, contact Jonathon Larkin. Phone 0477 310 149 or email jlarkin@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au