“The Sydney of 2026 will have crossed over that magical Australian barrier of the love affair with the motor vehicle,” offers David Pitchford, the chief executive of government property agency UrbanGrowth NSW.

“We will have moved away from everybody having three cars, and we will have moved into a situation like most European capitals, where people under 25 don’t even have a driver’s licence,” says Pitchford.

“And the reason for that is that they don’t need it. Their city is designed so well that they can get around and interconnect without it.”

This series of articles in the Sydney Morning Herald imagines the city in a decade, when its population will have climbed from the current 4.2 million to 5.5 million.

People who really know Sydney – not just the pretty harbour and the historic Inner West and Eastern Suburbs but the sprawling North Shore and the “Western Subs” baking on the Cumberland Plain – will question whether forms of personal mobility could ever be replaced by transit. Distances are great and the spaghetti of arterials connecting the suburbs are badly congested. Most of the investment since 2000 has been in tolled road infrastructure – an orbital freeway and some very long tunnels. The train system looks excellent on a map but is slow to use. And bicycles – such a great interest to many readers of this blog – are practically non-existent due to narrow roads and aggressive drivers.