Projects

Providing services in town and regional planning, traffic engineering, sustainable transportation planning and urban design.

The Micro(mobility) Plaza

Urban Design

The Micro(mobility) Plaza

Melbourne, Australia
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  • Client

    Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE)

  • Competition

    Micromobility Sandbox Challenge

  • Location

    Online

  • Contact

    Ben Thomson

    Email

Our multidisciplinary team is proud to have received an honourable mention for our innovative Micro Plaza design in the international ITE Micromobility Sandbox Challenge 2020.

The Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) is an international association of transportation professionals that seek to apply new technology to research, planning, functional design and policy development for all modes of transportation.

The ITE Micromobility Sandbox Challenge is a global competition that called for teams to develop innovative design solutions that could best accommodate a range of road users and establish urban rights-of-way that cater for current and future micromobility options.

As a team of passionate professionals, we acknowledge it’s becoming increasingly crucial to better manage our urban streetscapes, as cities are being challenged by the dynamic needs of people using and cruising through the same finite space.

What is micromobility and what does it mean for our streets?

Micromobility refers to the category of small, lightweight devices with maximum speeds around 25km/h, these include-bikes, electric pedal assisted bikes, e-scooters and e-skateboards. Micromobility has gained momentum internationally as well as more locally, with almost all Australian cities supporting some form of micromobility.

However, the battle for the kerb is already underway; pedestrians, car parking, pick-up/drop-off delivery and passenger services are competing with street furniture, signage, utilities and landscaping. Now, bicycle infrastructure, dock-less mobility vehicles and active building frontages are pushing the street to its limits.

The added challenge of course, are the effects of COVID-19 that has seen, and will continue to see, significant transformations to our cities. There is a consensus amongst urbanists that the way people perceive and behave in their urban environments is changing rapidly. Consequently, the way we design our cities will need to anticipate and adapt to these new patterns of behaviour.

From a transport perspective, there is a growing focus on localised living, travelling shorter distances and supporting our local communities while working from home. As people modify their daily commute, a convenient shift towards alternative transport is predicted.

Ratio Consultants saw this international competition as a unique opportunity to integrate and showcase our multidisciplinary approach to respond to a challenge that intersects traffic, transport, urban design and planning.

The Micro Plaza

The Micro Plaza was our design solution, an innovative pause point that plays a dual role as a thoroughfare and destination point for commuters and pedestrians alike. The design comprises four key modules derived from our design principles that can be applied broadly across a range of streetscape typologies.

The design delineates urban rights-of-way, alters the typical bike lane geometry and plays with the expansion of public open space. A commuter entering a Micro Plaza will move from a transit lane to an open ‘plaza’ area, cleverly blurring the street’s edge, and inviting a change in pace. Here, a user is given an opportunity to either continue through the space, stop completely or change direction. The Micro Plaza design caters for a pedestrian, micromobility options as well as for the conventional bicycle user.

Ultimately the purpose of the Micro Plaza is to provide the commuter a place to briefly pause, check directions on their phone, park their e-scooter, or pump their tyres. It is simultaneously a space for pedestrians to interact, take a seat, find shade or rent an e-bike.

The Micro Plaza is not only a design solution to answer the challenge of urban rights-of-way, it also generates a novel, integrated space on our streets for gathering, interacting and spreading street activation to the kerbside.

The Micro Plaza was commended for its pragmatic ‘whole of journey’ approach, clever implementation strategy, considered economic influence and overall innovative design solution.

We believe that designing a ‘street for the future’ is critical, where the dynamics between movement and place require careful consideration now more than ever and at a time where the uptake of micromobility infrastructure is fast approaching.

Keep an eye out for our next article that will showcase the Micro Plaza design principles, overall concept design and its implementation within the Melbourne context. 

If you'd like to find out more, or discuss how we can design an innovative solution for your project, please get in touch with one of our team members below.
 

Our Micro Plaza design team:

Andrew Guthrie, Senior Planner
Gokhan Karpat, Associate: Urban Design
Erica Orfanos, Planner/Urban Design
Ben Thomson, Traffic Engineer
Ariel Utz-Wirnsberger, Urban Designer
 
 
 
Author: Erica Orfanos, Urban Designer
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