4 August 2023

Keep cars out of the heart of Woden, say CIT road opponents

| Ian Bushnell
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woman and man hold plans at work site

Woden Valley Community Council president Fiona Carrick and executive director of Pedal Power ACT Simon Copland at the Woden CIT site. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

Woden Valley Community Council and the ACT’s cycling lobby have joined forces to oppose a proposed through road in the CIT Woden project that they say is unwanted, will be unsafe and prevent the best use of the land.

The council and Pedal Power ACT have lodged submissions with the ACT Government and despite it being unmoved about the road that will connect Bradley Street in the south to Bowes Street in the north, the two organisations will continue to fight for a green space and plaza at the western end of the CIT site.

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Council president Fiona Carrick said a much better outcome instead of a road at the bottom of the Town Square stairs would be a community space where events, concerts and markets could be held, as well as alfresco dining.

She said the shared road would run through the heart of Woden, be unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians and separate the CIT from the Town Square.

“We need to raise awareness in the community that we could have better outcomes in the heart of Woden and for the people,” Ms Carrick said.

She said no one had asked for the road but plenty had told the council they didn’t want it.

The government has said the road is needed because of the new transport interchange on Callam Street to provide a north-south connection but the Easty Street Diversion and Melrose Drive already did that, Ms Carrick said.

Cyclists and pedestrians were already able to access the centre of Woden and move from one side to the other.

Woden CIT precinct plan

The Woden CIT precinct plan showing the connecting road. Image: ACT Government.

Asked whether the use of bollards to block off the road from events would be a compromise, Ms Carrick said that would not be ideal.

Pedal Power ACT executive director Simon Copland said his organisation believed the road would be dangerous.

“We’re talking about a central plaza that will have high pedestrian and cycling activity and to cut a road right through the middle of that creates real potential conflicts between people in cars and those pedestrians and that creates a dangerous situation,” he said.

“People who are walking and riding won’t be expecting cars to be coming along. They’ll be walking and riding and hopefully to do so safely and having a road cutting through here is not what’s needed. That’s not the safest option.”

Mr Copland said people were doing fine without the road, which was not even in the original plans for the CIT development.

He suggested that pressure had been applied from somewhere for a through road.

The government was contradicting its own policies proposing a road that nobody wants in a high pedestrian and cyclist area.

“The government is currently rolling out active travel policies that talk about prioritizing safe spaces for pedestrians and cyclists and prioritizing that above the needs of motorists,” Mr Copland said.

“We have a strong network of roads around the town centre, and this goes against their own priorities to create these kinds of safe spaces.

“We want to have a central plaza here that is a popular place for people to walk to cycle to sit to have events to have fetes to have fairs, whatever it is, and putting a road through that reduces the capacity to create a central lively plaza.”

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Mr Copland said these kinds of people-friendly, car-free spaces were actually good for business, which had been shown around the world, including in Sydney’s George Street.

“There are cases for looking at streets both in Woden and around the city that could be pedestrianised,” he said.

“It’s not closing up, it’s opening up to pedestrians and cyclists and creating more vibrant spaces.”

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Fiona Carrick10:01 am 05 Aug 23

You make a great point Lynn.
Access to the town center for everyone, including people of all ages and abilities is fundamentally important to a caring community and should be part of the planning.
The provision of disability parking does not stop us from having a great central park.

sisterratched7:27 am 05 Aug 23

Once AGAIN, people are not being put first in Woden Town Centre. There is no need for that road but there is a massive need for a sunny, central space for our community, and this is our last option to achieve that. Cars will ruin it.

Fiona Carrick9:46 pm 04 Aug 23

I note that the picture in this article makes it look like the West Plaza will be green (grass) on either side of the road. The DA is different, it is road, mostly pavement and some garden beds.

HiddenDragon7:05 pm 04 Aug 23

With high and very high rise apartment towers being squeezed into every possible space in the Woden town centre, it’s far too late to be squawking about keeping cars out of the “heart” of the place, particularly with (unless I have mis-remembered earlier reports) Callam Street now being permanently closed to private vehicles as a means of getting between the northern and southern ends of the town centre.

Some of the people who live in these hundreds of apartments will not use private cars, but this being Canberra (not Copenhagen) many will – in spite of the fantasies and nudge policies of the anti-car brigade, which don’t seem to extend to ACT government employees (particularly the highly unionised ones) –


Looking at Woden in the context of the proposed express road between the Catholic and Greek casinos is pretty narrow thinking. Might better to have a fullsome look at the whole area including Furzer St, Launceston St and that almighty mess they have made of Corinna St.

My usual advice for people thinking about visiting Woden is “just don’t!”

Agree, advice, is to avoid Woden at all costs, just turning into apartment city, stop all this dreaming about people catching public transport, i need somewhere to park, maybe a few more traffic lights

Linda Seaniger1:53 pm 04 Aug 23

I find it amazing that the transport hub is located closer CIT than the shopping mall. Is this to make it as inconvenient as possible for the elderly and disabled to have convenient close access to the shopping mall? Where as the able-bodied kids attending CIT The light rail is a stone through away. Is this yet another example of how our green Labour government only cares about the youngsters.

Well maybe Linda Seaniger Westfield should pull their finger out and make their privately owned shopping mall a bit more accessible and inviting for pedestrians and shoppers using the light rail. There is only so much the ACT Govt and it’s taxpayers can do on the borders of highly used and privately owned land in Phillip and Woden!!

I am with Fiona on this. Where is ACT Greens Emma Davidson?

Shining a seat in Parliament, drawing a massive salary, doing SFA

From my observations Futureproof I think Emma Davidson (and Johnathan Davis) might be possibly the two hardest working MLAs I have seen. It was Emma who did the hard yards in holding the government to account in ensuring the unwanted Cooleman Court car park did not go ahead. She has been relentless in advocating for the rights of those less fortunate in our society both before and since her election.
I am with Fiona Carrick on this issue and hope Emma is there doing what she does best and advocating for the rights of ACT Citizens!

Usually agree with Fiona but the car free zones in civic are wastelands – particularly after dark. Reducing speed through speed humps and one way areas would seem to be best.

The only car free zone for motorists in Civic I can think of is the bus zone.
The only wastelands in Civic after dark are the acres of car parks!!

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