The impact of reducing cars in Sydney could provide life satisfaction benefits up to $2.9 billion in value and solve the NSW Premier’s priority to increase people’s access to green space, according to a report commissioned by Woods Bagot.

Streets Ahead: A New State of Wellness is a place study on the potential impact of reducing cars in Sydney. The study by ERA-co examined the bold proposition to close quiet community streets but retain main thoroughfares, allowing closed streets to become vibrant places for local communities by creating more space for parks, playgrounds and market gardens. 

According to ERA-co’s head of impact valuation, Meg Bartholomew. 

“A surprising benefit of the Covid-19 lockdown is that urban streets got quieter and more pleasant. Cities around the world are now introducing measures to retain a more peaceful state.”

“Our study shows what a strategy for Sydney could look like, at a micro and macro level,” she says.

Critically, the scaleable, place based methodology can be applied to inform governments and communities with measurable impacts of proposed changes.

Sampling 11 inner local government areas, the study shows that closing quiet streets could take up to 100,000 cars off the road – equal to almost 30 percent of residents' cars from the study area – resulting in almost $1.3 billion in yearly household savings.  

Woods Bagot principal and regional transport leader (A&NZ) John Prentice points to examples where both efficiency and experience for public transport commuters are improved by street closures.

“At Woods Bagot we’re interested in the vitally important design of ‘first and last mile’ experiences in our cities and neighbourhoods, which help create enjoyable and efficient public transportation to reduce cars on our streets,” says Prentice.

Image: Wynyard Walk is a fully accessible pedestrian link that cuts the walking time between Sydney’s CBD and the Barangaroo waterfront from 15 to just six minutes. Its award winning design is by Woods Bagot / Supplied.