The fabulous use of bridge abutments in the UK and Europe always amazes me. In Australia these spaces are dead. Abutments in Australia are usually home to the hardiest of Australian plants and acres of weed mat and not much else. A very inhospitable landscape. The top picture above is Richmond Bridge UK. The second photo is the eastern freeway in Melbourne. While the two urban conditions are different it should at least give some idea as to how much Australian land is dedicated to the road beyond the actual asphalt surface.
In the urban areas of the UK rather than having acres of ‘dead’ space adjacent to the road corridor this area is functional.
In the cramped conditions of London I see bridge abutments used extremely well. Traffic moves a lot slower in London and spaces in-between the roads are used to the maximum. Granted the road corridors in Australia provide habitat but its not really quality habitat. And the habitat is only allowed cause the road engineers are obsessed with ensuring there are no obstacles for poeple to run into when they come flying off the road at 100km an hour.
I would like to see a group of aussie road engineers and UK road engineers compare notes. Really Australian and American road engineers have more influence over urban design than any UK architect or landscape architect could hope for.