maxcowan

Nepean River Green Bridge – pedestrian designs for a pedestrian bridge.

In General Mish-Mash on September 29, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Released recently have been designs for a pedestrian bridge crossing the Nepean River at Penrith – they are calling it the Nepean River Green Bridge.

The location is just to the north of the Victoria Bridge road crossing and the rail bridge.

And, make no mistake, the designs are a big step up from the way pedestrians and cyclists have been forced to cross the river for as long as I can remember – on a hazardous footpath on Victoria Bridge. For a period I crossed that bridge on my bicycle every day on my way to school.

Victoria Bridge – the current shared path for pedestrians & cyclist

The 3 designs that are proposed will

– get people across the river without facing the current traffic hazards.

One of the designs of the Nepean River Green Bridge

But that is about all they will do!

Take a look at all the designs here – (when you land on the page click on he image gallery).

The 3 designs also:

– fail to answer the emphatically expressed desire of the community for the river to be embraced by the city
– fail to provide for a deeper involvement or engagement with the river than mere crossing it – another desire of the community was for greater engagement with the river.
– fail to take advantage of the potential to be simultaneously a destination point as well as a commuter’s path
– fail to demonstrate the thought, the care, the creativity, and the imagination that was injected into the city through the Penrith of the Future, Future of Penrith project.

One of the biggest failures lies in presenting three designs that do not offer any real choice in how the proposed bridge should work.

They are the same solution dressed differently.

Offering options on only the superficial aspect of appearance is a very poor, even deceptive, way of invoking “community consultation” or participation on what the project is meant to achieve.

In fact, the community of Penrith was consulted extensively for the Penrith of the Future project … and the outcomes shown by the the 3 designs suggest this consultation was discarded out of hand.

What were the designers thinking? Or those who briefed the designers, what was in their heads? Who cares about this city?

Neither the designers nor those who briefed them demonstrate much care!

The residents do. The authors, designers, artists, architects who worked on Penrith of the Future do.

Those responsible for these footbridge designs have cared more about not taking any risk than they have at producing something wonderful. They have shown themselves to be adept at prudence, self-protection, and conservatism.

Perhaps they avoid trying to reach higher, to inspire and to being aspiring, because proposing something great, facing greatness may also mean facing fear, a dangerous precipice.

I say wake up and start dreaming, and start taking some risks!!

Stop treating our city and its people like we aspire to mediocrity. We do not.

We aspire to the same quality of life and community as everyone one else in the world – why should Penrith aim lower than Melbourne, Sydney, NY, or Paris … we should be aiming higher than most cities because our natural qualities and landscapes are brimming with beauty.

Stop wasting this natural beauty, the rich regional resources.

Stop wasting money building stuff that is, at best, “ho-hum”!

Our city deserves to have its future imagined, dreamed … and then crafted in ways that inspire.

The Nepean River, has been a central part of my childhood, youth, and adult life … I have grown up with it. As a 9 or 10 year old we would jump off the rail bridge pylons, we swam at the weir or just sat under its cascade escaping the heat, we learned to water ski, went skinny dipping, camped on its banks, watched the GPS toffs cheering the Head of the River rowers (then fought with them or pinched their rugby jerseys), we went down to the river, paddled up the river, swam in the river,  ran along its banks, we lived by the river …

And you want to tell me that these designs will have a few panels of pictures telling the history of the city and the river. Fuck you!!

Our history and our stories of the river deserve better than a few panels.

We deserve a place to tell those stories, shout them, sing them, swap them, listen to them. Why couldn’t this bridge host a performance space?

Don’t build a place that encourages people to zoom past without a moment’s reflection; where people have to rush across to avoid the scorching Penrith sun (no shade at all in these designs) …

don’t build a crossing, build a connection. Build something with the character of the river itself … something lingering, meandering, something with depth and breadth, that embraces and envelops, something that has time – a past, a present, a future.

Fight against these options, demand a higher standard for our city.

Fight against our city being pedestrian. Demand some creativity, some vision, some dreaming.

You can give your feedback on these designs at the website of the Department of Roads & Maritime Service (RMS) … click here.

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