An alternative future for freeway reserves

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by Jenny Donovan and Rupert Dance

tree and leavesOne of the defining characteristics of contemporary Australian cities is the way they reflect the emphasis placed on private vehicles to move people and things around. 2.5% of our towns and cities are roads and car parks etc, dedicated to that purpose. However despite the appeal of the freedom promised by private vehicles and the hoped-for economic benefits of efficient freight movement, recent years have witnessed a growing recognition that these benefits are illusory and the costs to society are much greater than previously imagined. In particular there is awareness that this approach is not ecologically sustainable or socially responsible. Furthermore there is a growing awareness that it is locking us into dependence on vulnerable and diminishing fossil fuel reserves and causing “collateral damage” of around 1400 deaths on our roads annually, with an estimated social cost of $2,257,793 per fatality. The social cost includes loss of wages, medical bills and loss of productivity to a business and to each family (Moore 2009).

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