Update 21 April: please sign our petition to Council before 30 April, so that it will be tabled at their next meeting
Under the budget headline “Projects Attacking Congestion”, Brisbane City Council has allocated $1,011,000 in the 2016-17 budget for modifications to the intersection of Ivory Street and Boundary St. The plan is to “provide right-turn movement from Boundary Street into Ivory Street to provide improved access and safety for motorists travelling from Howard Smith Wharves Precinct to the Story Bridge and Fortitude Valley.”
We question this use of over $1 million in public funds to improve access for motorists from a new development that is ideally placed to be reached from the CBD via active transport. Worse, this project for the convenience of future motorists will be to the detriment of people who already chose to walk to the city, as it will remove the footpath along the northern side of Boundary St. That means people walking towards the CBD from the Story Bridge and Fortitude Valley will have further to walk, will have to cross Boundary St where there is no centre island, and will have to contend with vehicles exiting the River Place Apartments.
This is in an environment where people all over Brisbane are crying out for safer facilities for walking and cycling, but Council’s response is that there is no money available. We have requested that Council put a halt to this project until the effects on people choosing to walk and cycle in the area are appropriately considered and the community is consulted.
Rather than proceed with a project that will encourage people to access the Howard Smith Wharves development by car and discourage people from walking, this should be an opportunity to improve mobility for everyone in the area. We recommend one of two approaches to improving the proposed design:
We recommend the following changes to improve conditions for all users of this area of the CBD:
- The down-bound lane of Ivory St from the Story Bridge be closed to motor vehicle traffic. This lane serves only local traffic which will face only a very minor detour to enter the area via Ann St instead. Closing it to motor vehicle traffic is a simple matter of installing a barrier at the top.
- This lane down Ivory St be re-purposed instead for two-way bicycle traffic between the CBD and the shared path on the western side of the Story Bridge. This will provide people cycling with an alternative to using Ivory Lane. Ivory Lane is extremely steep, and having to take it deters people from cycling knowing they have to push their bike up the hill, or if they are nervous riding down such a steep descent to the tee junction at the bottom. We note the existing concrete median barrier up Ivory St would provide suitable separation between the motor vehicle traffic and bicycle traffic climbing the hill.
- Without motor vehicle traffic descending Ivory St, the guard rail would not be necessary. Removing this would then leave room to continue the footpath along Ivory St below where it currently stops at the stairs down to Boundary St. Further towards the Boundary St intersection, further room for the footpath could be found by moving the guard rail, building out the kerb, and reducing the centre concrete barrier to maintain the width of the bikeway.
- Without motor vehicle traffic turning left from Ivory St into Boundary St, the kerb should be built out to provide more room for pedestrians at this corner, and to link the new footpath on Ivory St to the existing footpath on the northern side of Boundary St which should not be removed.
- A pedestrian crossing should also be provided at this intersection as part of the reconfiguration, rather than forcing pedestrians to take a longer route and cross Boundary St further to the east where there is no centre island.
These recommended changes are illustrated and annotated in pink and blue in the diagram above.
As an alternative, if Council insists on maintaining the downbound lane of Ivory St for local motor vehicle traffic, they should build an elevated shared path along the southern side of Ivory St between the Boundary St intersection and the top of the stairs to create a 3.5m wide shared path along Ivory St. That would provide pedestrians and cyclists a route to the Story Bridge with a much gentler gradient than Ivory Lane. We know that having to push a bike up Ivory Lane (and being frightened to ride down it) is sufficient to completely deter some people – particularly women, children, and older riders – from cycling.
If Council is serious about reducing congestion on our roads, it’s time to prioritise giving people attractive alternatives to driving.