A report undertaken by the University of Melbourne has found that both driving and cycling give people far greater access to areas across the city in 20 minutes than if they take public transport.

The results, drawn from an ARC Linkage project, Intensifying Places, by Professor Kim Dovey and Ian Woodcock, highlight the challenges of achieving intensified urban development and improved public transport in the country.

“Australian cities are some of the lowest density and most car-dependent on the planet,” the authors write.

“Despite decades of compact city policy there has been little change to the practice of ever-expanding suburban fringe development and freeway building that entrenches and exacerbates car-dependency.”

The concept of the 20 minute city, where all desired urban amenities are accessible within 20 minutes, has become a catch-cry for politicians and planners, said Professor Dovey. And it seems like cars and bicycles, not public transport, are what will take citizens where they need to go within the time period.

“Convenience and time ranked highest for survey participants when choosing whether to drive, catch public transport or cycle,” said Professor Dovey.

“The way Melbourne is designed makes everything easier for people with cars and more difficult for those who use public transport. The incentives are not in place for people to choose public transport as their main mode.

“If we want a low-carbon city then we must design one where public transport access times can at least compete with the car.”

The report focused on several diverse suburban zones in Melbourne, including Reservoir, Sunshine, Surrey Hills and Chadstone. It suggests that in order to achieve a 20 minute city, planning needs to work in hubs of 10km x 10km with a cluster of amenities, services and businesses, so residents can reach these zones easily within 20 minutes.

The report also found that shopping malls often have untapped potential for creating community hubs that are networked to make the city more accessible and liveable.

“Harnessing shopping malls and making them more easily accessible by public transport, by incorporating underground stations and integrating facilities, is key to making the city more environmentally sustainable,” said Professor Dovey.

“Melbourne is in a unique position to lead global innovation to make cities more sustainable. It is a highly car dependent city with significant urban sprawl. There is an enormous opportunity to cut carbon emissions by addressing transport issues.”

Read the report HERE.