Geek Out

Sydney And Melbourne: Bring On The Sci-Fi Skyways

At dinner in tonight, my friends got talking about the proposal to turn 3.6km of doomed monorail track into an elevated walk/cycle way. When floated in April, the idea drew comparisons to New York’s high rail line retrofit. It’s unlikely to get past the drawing board, but you have to admit it’d look kind of futuristic (albeit impractically narrow, as Crikey points out). That’s why I’m excited to hear that Melbourne has its own very different plans for an elevated cycle freeway.

Last week, the Herald Sun reported on the $21 million dollar B1 Veloway (pictured top right), a 2km cycle way between Flinders Street Station and Southern Cross Station, with extensions out to Richmond and Docklands. The high-tech Veloway would be made from lightweight composite plastic, have wind deflectors and use solar-powered lighting. The Victorian Transport Minister, Terry Mulder, went so far as to call the Veloway idea “exciting”.

Back in Sydney, the completely separate ‘High-Lane’ proposal received support from 81 per cent of Sydney Morning Herald readers, after almost 12,000 votes. But while Lord Mayor Clover told the paper she loved the New York initiative, she feels the monorail’s pillars are too ugly and narrow to do such a plan justice. For its part, the firm behind the idea estimates the retrofit would cost $5 million compared with a $10-15 million dollar disassembly effort.

Two different cities and two very different ideas that had my table full of geeks busting out their phones to Google more details. Australian urban design needs more bold ideas. And debate is never a bad thing.

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