Articles on Cities & Policy

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Seven years after Tahrir Square became the focal point of the Egyptian Revolution, towering metal gates now control access. Ahmed Abd El-Fatah/Wikimedia

How city squares can be public places of protest or centres of state control

Today’s urban public spaces tend to represent governments and cities rather than people and citizens. Architects and urban designers should contribute to shaping spaces for freedom and interaction.
The Melbourne Apartments Project developed by the Barnett Foundation offered 28 units to households living within 4km of the site and willing to leave their social housing. Barnett Foundation

Affordable home-ownership scheme offers a pathway out of social housing

Shared equity models have a dual benefit of making home ownership affordable for people on modest incomes and freeing up scarce social housing for other households in need.
Brisbane has half the population of Sydney and Melbourne, but all three cities have very similar commute distances and times. superjoseph/Shutterstock

Our fast-growing cities and their people are proving to be remarkably adaptable

Urban growth has had much less impact on commuting distances and times than media reports would suggest. The explanations include jobs being widely dispersed and residents' adaptable decision-making.
If cyclist-friendly cities like Copenhagen can offer abundant and conveniently sited parking space for bikes, why not Australian cities? Grey Geezer/Wikimedia

The problem isn’t dockless share bikes. It’s the lack of bike parking

If cities had backed their active transport goals with investment in adequate cycling infrastructure we might not be having the arguments about dockless bikes 'littering' public space.
Uncapped rent increases and ‘no grounds’ evictions leave older women particularly at risk of substandard housing conditions or even homelessness. Shutterstock

Life as an older renter, and what it tells us about the urgent need for tenancy reform

Proposed changes to NSW rental tenancy law are an improvement, but do not end the excessive rent increases and "no grounds" evictions that put renters – and older women in particular – at risk.
CRRC Zhuzhou Institute developed the rubber-tyred autonomous rail transit (ART) system, or trackless tram, which has already been trialled in Zhuzhou, China. Wikimedia

Why trackless trams are ready to replace light rail

For 40 years the author has argued that trains and trams are better than buses. New 'trackless trams', which take innovations from high speed rail and put them in a bus, have changed his mind.
The right of landlords to terminate a lease with no grounds is the most serious deficiency in residential tenancy laws in New South Wales. Shutterstock

An open letter on rental housing reform

Residential tenancy reforms are before the NSW parliament, but a key reform is missing. In this open letter, housing academics call for an end to landlords' power to terminate leases with 'no grounds'.
As the dream of home ownership eludes more and more older Australians, this has big implications for retirement, pensions and government spending on rental assistance. Billion Photos/Shutterstock

When falling home ownership and ageing baby boomers collide

Until now most people have eventually owned a home. But two trends – falling ownership and a growing aged population – will put the budgets of retirees and government under real pressure.
Whatever’s driving the popularity of SUVs like the Toyota Kluger, crash tests and accident data show people are mistaken if they think they increase safety on the road. Toyota/AAP

I’ve always wondered: are SUVs and 4WDs safer than other cars?

Perceptions about safety might be one of the reasons more and more people are buying SUVs. The evidence from crash data, though, is troubling – particularly for other road users.
Electric scooters could solve the ‘last mile’ problem of urban transport if operators learn from the mistakes that plagued the introduction of dockless bikes. CrowdSpark/AAP

Can e-scooters solve the ‘last mile’ problem? They’ll need to avoid the fate of dockless bikes

Shared electric scooters appeal as a way to cover that awkward distance between public transport stops and your destination. But first e-scooter operators must solve the littering and dumping problem.
Caggara House in Brisbane caters for low-income residents aged 55 and over who previously lived alone in state-owned houses that were too big for their needs. UDIA Qld/Facebook

A community fix for the affordable housing crisis

Much of the innovation in providing social housing is coming from community housing providers around the country. And it's desperately needed given the state of housing inequality in Australia.
Australia is a long way from achieving responsible consumption and production – SDG 12 – and China exposed the reliance on shifting the problem elsewhere when it stopped accepting waste for recycling. Joe Castro/AAP

Business as usual? The Sustainable Development Goals apply to Australian cities too

Australia has yet to properly acknowledge that the Sustainable Development Goals aren't just an issue for other countries. The problems that demand our attention are much closer to home.
Children in suburbs with low levels of education and employment and high rates of poverty and crime are also missing out on the experiences that help make upwards social mobility possible. Tracey Nearmy/AAP

Young Australians’ prospects still come down to where they grow up

Children growing up in the most disadvantaged suburbs also lack the social opportunities to develop skills and aspirations that would improve their prospects in life.
The southern elevation of Two Pavilion House, showing the separate pavilions that give the house its flexibility. Image: Scott Burrows

We need more flexible housing for 21st-century lives

People living with the change and uncertainty of this century need flexible and adaptable housing. Here we look at a couple of examples of what's possible.
Autonomous vehicles are coming to our cities – in fact, driverless buses are already on the road in Adelaide. David Mariuz/AAP

Why driverless vehicles should not be given unchecked access to our cities

To maximise the benefits and limit the costs, the use of autonomous vehicles should be pooled and their access to the city restricted.
Vendors in Australia are not legally obliged to tell prospective buyers about past crimes such as murder committed on the property. Dan Peled/AAP

What should buyers of a house be told about it?

It's still mostly a case of 'buyer beware' when it comes to finding out about a property. But many buyers feel they should be told if, for example, it was the scene of a violent murder.
The housing boom increased wealth gains for affluent households while rising housing costs undermined income gains for less affluent households. Sam Mooy/AAP

How the housing boom has driven rising inequality

The Productivity Commission neglected the impact of housing costs. After allowing for these costs, the top 10% of households' average disposable income grew at 2.7 times the rate of the bottom 10%.
Getting more out of ‘lazy’ land, such as this community housing built over a Port Phillip City Council-owned car park, is a key strategy to reduce the shortage of affordable housing. CIty of Port Phillip

Put unused and ‘lazy’ land to work to ease the affordable housing crisis

As Melbourne's population hits 5 million, it's a reminder that growing cities must make much better use of vacant and underused land to meet the urgent need for affordable housing.

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