Melbourne has a network of laneways created by the historic small block grid pattern design in the city centre, which offer a diverse mix of cafés, bars, small restaurants, boutique shops and artwork. Whilst the laneways are now a warren of daytime and night-time activity, they were once neglected and underused spaces predominately used for service access only. In addition to the mix of commercial uses offer, the design of the laneways has considered the pedestrian experience with lighting, awnings, signage/wayfinding and paving considerations.xii


The number of accessible and active laneways in Melbourne increased from 300 m to 3.43 km between 1994 and 2004.xiii The laneways have enhanced the unique character of the city by creating lively, dense and human-scale spaces. The hugely popular annual St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, involving live music and performances, originated in the laneways.xiv

Reasons for success

The City of Melbourne introduced various policies to support the revitalisation and protection of the laneways. Such policies included a ‘Laneway Policy’ to identify the important characteristics of the city’s lanes and to indicate the preferred character and form of development.xv The City of Melbourne also established the ‘Laneway Commissions Programme’ focusing on projects for more neglected lanes to transform into ‘art galleries’ through street art, murals and performance space.xvi

When/ why a city might adopt an approach like this

By planning and designing a network of interlocking pedestrian-focused streets, lanes and arcades, cities not only encourage walking but also create vibrant areas for cultural daytime and night-time activity, creating safer spaces and a higher quality of living. 

C40 Good Practice Guides

C40's Good Practice Guides offer mayors and urban policymakers roadmaps for tackling climate change, reducing climate risk and encouraging sustainable urban development. With 100 case studies taken from cities of every size, geography and stage of development around the world, the Good Practice Guides provide tangible examples of climate solutions that other cities can learn from. 

The Transit Oriented Development Good Practice Guide is available for download here.  The full collection of C40 Good Practice Guides is available for download here.  

All references can be found in the full guide.

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Key Impact
Traffic injuries reduced by 63%, pedestrian injuries decreased by 35% and pedestrian volumes increased by 11% in Times Square and 6% in Herald Square. Bicycle volumes increased 16% on weekdays and 33% on weekends
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