FH#1 - THE RIVULET WALK AND BIKE WAY.
Creating dedicated pedestrian and cycle throughways directly into the heart of the CBD has proven difficult up to this point. At the same time, the city has turned its back and largely forgotten the Rivulet as it makes it way quietly through its forgotten spaces.
In order to suggest an alternative to the long running and problematic discussions in creating a dedicated bike lane on Collins Street, the Rivulet Walk and Bike Way is proposed.
Picking up from the CBD end of the existing Hobart Rivulet Park, a raised and cantilevered pathway runs along the back of the former Bodyworks site, utilising the existing Victorian bridge to run under Molle Street. Continuing along behind the former Swimming Baths, it passes below Collins Street and then Barrack Street, again utilising existing bridges and then on, behind Village Cinema, past the backs of properties on Liverpool Street, under a sunken stretch to finally emerge in Harrington Street at the former site of the recently removed public toilet block.
The new Walk and Cycle Way, when combined with the existing Hobart Rivulet Park, would provide an unhindered car free route all the way from the Female Factory site to Harrington Street in the CBD, serving the entire South Hobart area. Forgotten parts of the City would be brought back into use, with economic potential for new uses to spring up along these new edges of activity, especially along the back of Liverpool Street. Additional exit and entry points along the route would provide extra opportunities for connectivity and the Harrington Street entry could be developed as a hub of activity, such as a bike orientated Coffee Shop, with storage facilities.
There is no doubt that the potential Rivulet Walk and Bike Way would have to oversome potential issues of protecting the existing ecology of the Rivulete, residential amenity and ensure the ability of the Rivulet to work as it should by avoiding opportunities for debris to snag and lead to the clogging of its natural flow. However, it would also represent an amazing oppportunity to join the 'daylighting' movement that is helping to bring back and reconnect urban rivers to the cities through which they flow. It would provide the opportunity to re-examine and remodel the lower stretches between Barrack and Harrington to perhaps replace the current concrete cut with a system of holding pens, channels and terraces to better deal with periods of high water flow whilst also creating new opportunities for new habitats and reed beds to be established, bringing wildlife further into the CBD.
All of the above, it is hoped that issues could be overcome with sensitive design that is mindful of the duel use of the Rivulet. Rather than destroying habitat, the walkway should attempt to sail above it with minimal interventions with the floor or bank of the river. It should be mindful of its width and construction so as to ensure light penetration and overlooking issues.
By encouraging people out of their cars, the health, social and congestion implications are obvious. By re-introducing the City with its river it also provies an opportunity to bring new habitats into the CBD. At a time when 'transformative' and 'game changer' schemes are being sought to re-shape Hobart as both a City and a community, it is considered that the Rivulet Walk and Bike Way, using a creative approach, could offer one such possibility.