Slow, pedestrian-paced transport is used throughout the EBD. Faster modes connect at transit hubs around the edges of the site.
At the time of the initial development of EBD, more than 50% of residents in the CBD local government area did not own cars (compared to 15% across greater Melbourne). Yet, in the early planning of EBD, it was the proposition that the site would be car-free that attracted so much public attention and surprise. To achieve its targets of ‘super-low’ per-capita consumption significant changes in typical mobility patterns (at that time) had to be achieved. EBD has become a model of a walkable community and ‘proof’ that walkable well-being can be an attractive option.
Across the site, walking and bicycle riding are supplemented by the now iconic EBD PEVs. The tiny personal electric vehicles – an evolution of the golf cart of old – are freely available to anyone when carrying or moving something that is beyond the capacity of the individual, walking or riding. Because the site is so naturally bounded and because of the design of the PEVs (including the use of residents’ mobility cards), there has been little theft of these free vehicles over the last five years.
Even in the early stages of EBD development when its mobility propositions were seen as so controversial, it was appreciated that the site was exceptionally well serviced by public transport, with its pedestrian connection to rail, bus and trams (at North Melbourne station to the north and docklands to the south). However the idea that, for a total of 7000 residents, only 200 car spaces were to be provided for ‘off-site travel’ created great debate (which now seems hard to believe). The provision of an EBD ‘smart-fleet’ of vehicles, available for easy booking by any resident, is perceived as one of the real attractions of residency, particularly as the fleet has such a range of vehicle sizes to choose from. The economics of car sharing has meant that the latest and most efficient vehicles are available with residents getting access to vehicles not widely in use in the rest of the country. Even with this ability to ‘show-off’, the average car-kilometers traveled per year by EBD residents in the last year has been just one tenth of the average for Victoria.
Streets in EBD are usually without traffic (except for emergency vehicles and the occasional PEV) so they get used as community spaces adding to the overall impression that this is a site where ‘people live on the streets’ and public life is important. Many people now move through the site on different levels, with one axis of movement being the North Melbourne-Docklands connection and the other the CBD-Mooney Ponds Creek connection. There has been a progressive re-alignment of some cafés and market stalls to service this (walking) through-traffic.
The retention of the rail loop line has given rise to one of the site’s most iconic images with the wonderful goods vehicles that move slowly around the rails transporting materials, produce and equipment. Some of these are genuinely eccentric (particularly those that are human powered) but they are all well checked for safety. Visitors, in particular groups of visiting schoolchildren, really love to ride on them. The whole system moves at such a leisurely pace that, along the whole line around the site from the transport exchange at the CBD corner near the ACUR, there has never been an accident (despite those dire warnings early in the EBD history).