Have Australian commuters really enjoyed gains in quality of life that would justify all those billions of dollars spent on transport infrastructure?
We spend on average about an hour a day travelling. Given this is unlikely to change, how can we make this time more productive and enjoyable?
Being in a park tends to make people feel more positive, although the time of day and the season also affect their moods.
The positive mood of tweets varies with time of day and season, but it's consistently higher in parks than in built-up areas, where people are more likely to express anger and fears.
Originating in the Netherlands, the concept of ‘woonerfs’, areas designed to invite walking, playing, socialising and cycling while curbing motor vehicles, has spread to cities in other countries, including Berlin.
All around us, the places we inhabit send us physical and visual cues that influence our behaviour. Good design can tilt the balance so our surroundings help us act in ways that fulfil our needs.
Health objectives are at last being integrated into all levels of planning in New South Wales, from cities and towns to local places and buildings.
The connections between city planning and health are many and varied, but getting health objectives integrated into all aspects of planning in New South Wales has been a long struggle.
‘Soft fall’ surfaces are widely used in play areas where children might fall, but can also get very hot in the sun, which undermines this safety benefit.
Brisbane City Council/Flickr
Commonly used surfaces in play areas, such as "soft fall" materials and Astroturf, can heat up to 80-100°C in the sun. This makes them a hazardous design choice, especially as the climate gets hotter.
The White Night festival is an example of Melbourne’s efforts to promote itself as a convivial city.
John Gollings/AAP supplied
Australian cities generally minimise negative attributes such as crime, segregation and violence, but developing positive attributes such as inclusivity appears more challenging.
Children being children can be loud, which creates challenges when they live in an apartment.
In Sydney, families with children now account for one in four households living in apartments. The expectations and design of apartments have not kept up with this rapid demographic change.
It’s important to young Australians to be able to walk and feel safe while doing so.
Victoria Walks ©
The benefits of walking are widely promoted, but most Australian communities still aren't walker-friendly. Young people, who rely heavily on walking to get around, are clear about what has to change.
Hving a pet dog turns out to be a highly car-dependent affair.
Australian cities generally don't allow pet dogs on public transport. Instead, owners need their own vehicle to travel with their dogs, and it's a surprisingly important factor in our car dependency.
The Wray Avenue Solar Parklet by Seedesign Studio is in Fremantle.
Many parklets are privately funded, but these projects often allow for more public participation than more traditional public spaces.
The old Pratt Street power plant in Baltimore in the US is now home to commercial uses. But the heritage preservation is compromised by advertising that is not sympathetic to the building style and design.
Adaptively re-using buildings can preserve heritage while enabling new uses that help make cities more liveable and sustainable.
The right side of the ‘latte line’ in Sydney, looking across Paddington towards Bondi Junction and the eastern suburbs.
The State of Australian Cities Conference begins in Adelaide today. In major cities across the nation, there's a stark contrast between lofty planning goals and the sprawling reality on the ground.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff launch Sidewalk Toronto, a high-tech urban development project.
Toronto has entered a joint venture with a Google sister company to create a high-tech urban development area. The goal is to 're-imagine cities from the internet up' – Google's internet, of course.
Connections between people and between people and places help create vibrant neighbourhoods with a sense of human identity and belonging.
Picture by Tommy Wong
The secret of creating attractive, liveable places sounds deceptively simple: connect people to places, people to transport and people to people.
Stony Creek drain: untidy and often slightly threatening, informal green space still has value for residents, which appropriate intervention can enhance.
Residents often have concerns about informal green space but some still use it. Work to enhance these areas should aim to resolve these concerns without destroying what residents do value.
Having to own multiple cars comes at a cost to the finances and health of residents in the sprawling outer suburbs.
One of the most effective ways to reduce health inequalities across Australia is to design neighbourhoods that free residents from having to rely on cars for transport.
For suburbs like fast-growing Tarneit in the Wyndham area, ‘hard’ infrastructure gets priority, leaving ‘soft’ social infrastructure to catch up later.
Traditionally, new communities first get hard infrastructure – schools, hospitals, transport – and 'soft' social infrastructure comes later. Liveability and public health suffer as a result.
In Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney, just over a third of dwellings are within 400 metres of a public transport stop with services every 30 minutes, but the proportions are much lower in other cities.
Governments, developers and urban planners all aspire to create liveable cities. Yet when it comes to Australian cities, the rhetoric and reality don’t quite match.
While parts of Australian capital cities are highly liveable, access to the features that underpin liveability is highly unequal.
The challenge of creating liveable communities across Australia's capital cities comes down to seven key factors. And assessed on this basis, parts of our cities don't fare so well.
Staying physically active can play a big part in ageing well – and a well-designed neighbourhood helps with that.
Our ageing population presents several social and economic challenges, particularly for the health sector. Physical activity can tackle many of these.