In part 5 of her review of the Woolloongabba Bikeway, Bel on Wheels takes a look at the preliminary designs for Annerley Road:
OK, let’s talk about Annerley Road. This part of the Woollongabba Bikeway project was not included in the original plans for the Gabba to Goodwill link put forward by Bicycle Queensland, but has since been included with support from the local councillor. It’s a key link between the CBD and the University of Queensland, and has seen a high number of crashes involving cyclists, so improvements here are very welcome.
The latest designs include a two-way protected bikeway from the Stanley St intersection to Clarence / Catherine St, and then a painted on-road bike lane on each side of the road south from there to Gladstone Road.
Why not extend the 2-way bikeway?
This has been one of the questions raised about the current design: why not continue the 2-way protected bikeway along the length of Annerley Road? In my opinion that’s fairly easily answered by considering the many intersections where it would be difficult to protect cyclists from turning traffic via a suitable crossing. In his Copenhagenize blog, internationally recognised bikeway design expert Mikael Colville-Andersen addresses what he describes as the bi-directional cycle track folly.
Of course, the proposed arrangment requires a transition for out-bound riders, who will cross Annerley Road at the newly signalised intersection with Clarence and Catherine Streets. Although a little clumsy, I believe that configuration can work if the timing of the traffic sequence is set not to disadvantage people travelling by bike.
I note that all the unsignalised intersections along Annerley Rd will be left-in left-out only with the exception of Nelson St (although the situation at Tillot St is unclear), which I consider a significant positive move for cyclist safety. Gloucester St will be further restricted, becoming one-way only at the end (left out only).
Vehicles will still cross the path of cyclists on left turn slip lanes at Stephens Road, Boggo Road, and Peter Doherty St, but the left slip lane at Park Road is proposed to be removed. I’m not sure which should be the preferred treatment there, and would encourage regular riders to discuss their thoughts with the project team.
I still have major concerns about the driveway to the Mater Private Hospital, where it appears vehicles will be able to turn right across Annerley Road and across the two-way cycle track to turn in. That driveway is already a high conflict point, and adding two-way cycle traffic to the mix frightens me.
I believe it would be beneficial if the speed limit along the length of Annerley Road was reduced from 60kph to 40kph – noting that there is a 40kph school zone anyway, and multiple medical facilities at the northern end. I understand this would need to be agreed by TMR, but I think Council should advocate for the lower limit. To me, that would make it far safer when vehicles turn left across the bike lanes, giving the drivers more chance to see any cyclists in the lane and react appropriately.
So why not protect the one-way lanes?
Having settled on one-way bike lanes in the direction of traffic, the next question is: why are these not proposed to be separated from traffic with barriers such as bollards, or kerbs. I understand this is a space constraint. To allow comfortable room for passing, a separated bike lane would need to be at least 2m wide, with additional width (40-60cm) for a barrier. In some sections along Annerley Road I understand the bike lanes will be as narrow as 1.5m, in which case my feeling is that it’s preferable to have the option to move out of the bike lane into the general traffic lane (when clear) in order to pass an obstacle such as a puddle, or a slower cyclist.
I appreciate that others may disagree with my position, and would encourage people to discuss their views with the project team in the information sessions.
I have seen some criticism that not all the bus stops along Annerley Road will be “floating”. In those locations (inbound between Crown and Clarence St, and at 4 stops south of the railway line) buses will pull into the kerb across the line of bicycle travel, as they do on pretty much every bus route in Brisbane. While that’s not ideal, I don’t see obvious room to make those stops wider without significant land resumptions. There has already been some movement and consolidation of stops, and I can see that moving the Clarence St stop in particular would be problematic as it services the medical centre.
I am pleased to see that two of the busiest bus stops along Annerley Road will become floating bus stops (the first in Brisbane, together with the one on Stanley St), and the bike route will by-pass the stop servicing the medical centre outbound at Clarence St. That is a significant improvement above the current situation, and I hope Brisbane’s bus drivers will maintain their usual high standards of care around people on bikes.
Gladstone Road Crossing
It’s fair to say that the current connection between Annerley Road and the Eleanor Schonell Bridge at Gladstone Road does not work at all well. I note that the current plan does not address this issue at all, and the arrangement for people travelling by bike there remains unsatisfactory. Although I wouldn’t like to see that become an impediment to the entire project, I do consider it imperative that Council and the Queensland Government work together to design and fund a better cycle connection from Annerley Road to the Eleanor Schonell Bridge in the very near future.