Plans to turn key CBD roads into parks and piazzas are among a host of bold pedestrian-friendly reforms set to be considered by Melbourne City Council.
Proposals to further reduce speed limits and introduce more pedestrian crossings have also been flagged in the draft walking strategy, released this week.
If introduced, it would see Flinders Lane, Spring Street and Elizabeth Street among about eight streets partially allocated for public space and walking areas within the next four years.
While vehicle access may still be allowed on a limited basis, the stretches of road singled out for walking streets would have ''low or no traffic function''.
The proposals include:
■ The closure of Flinders Lane to traffic between Swanston and Elizabeth streets.
■ Transforming the northern end of Dodds Street in Southbank into a 200 metre linear park in the heart of the arts precinct.
■ A piazza in front of the Princess Theatre and ''pedestrianisation'' of Spring Street between Lonsdale and Little Bourke streets.
■ Reduced vehicle access along a stretch of Queen and Therry streets next to the soon-to-be redeveloped Queen Victoria Market.
■ A new ''iconic'' public space near the crumbling former Suncorp building on Collins Street, created by the closure of the top end of Market Street.
■ Limits to cars travelling through Little Bourke Street between Russell Street and Swanston Street in the heart of Chinatown.
■ A piazza at the tram terminus at the bottom end of Elizabeth Street near Flinders Street Station.
Council research has found pedestrians contribute most to the city's businesses, with just a 10 per cent increase in the Hoddle Grid's walking network predicted to add $2.1 billion to the economy.
Walking is already the most popular form of transport in Melbourne, with 66 per cent of all trips within the council area made on foot.
In contrast, traffic congestion costs Melbourne $3 billion a year and this is expected to double to $6 billion by 2020.
Chairwoman of the council's transport committee, Cr Cathy Oke, said that while changes would always ignite debate, all council initiatives would be based on data and extensive traffic modelling.
“The transport strategy has identified that we need to shift to active modes of transport,” she said.
“Melbourne is already known for its parks and laneways, it would be great to be up there as a great walking city.”
The council will consider rolling out a 40km/h speed limit beyond the central city to other areas. It will also look at ways to improve pedestrian traffic flow around the city's bustling train stations.
The draft walking plan is expected to be endorsed by councillors next week.