Brisbane City Council recently published their Transport Plan for Brisbane – Strategic Directions. We’ve tried to digest what it means for cycling.
It’s first worth noting that since the 1960s Brisbane has had a number of transport plans. The four most recent of these have promised to increase the proportion of people riding bicycles. But with the cycling mode share stagnating under 2% for the last 20 years, and only recently finally creeping above that mark, we admittedly read this latest plan with some skepticism. Nevertheless, we’ve tried to reduce the possible implications for cycling into just a few pages to save you the effort of ploughing through all 29,000 words, and digesting sentences like
“Reducing the impact of transport on Brisbane’s natural environment and encouraging uptake of more sustainable modes of transport supports improved transport effectiveness and lower carbon emissions” and
“We need to build our agility so we can embrace innovation and new technology”.
Having downloaded the plan, the first thing we looked for was the overall vision – where did the Lord Mayor see Brisbane’s transport system in 20 years? Not in the plan! That is in a separate Vision Statement. Here is The Vision (mostly as it relates to cycling):
Apparently “we are taking a radical new approach to transport planning; one that focuses on how our transport network supports citywide outcomes, rather than just on the modes that get us from A to B.” Those citywide outcomes are liveability and economic prosperity.
In the future there will be “More demand on transport networks already at capacity during peak times.” (You don’t say!)
Fortunately “we recognise the need to change our focus and look to alternative, sustainable forms of transport and ensure Brisbane is a walkable city.”
Which has us asking: alternative to what? Why are walking and cycling, the only really sustainable transport modes, always seen as an alternative to the dominant way of getting around (by car). The car really should be the alternative – when you need to carry heavy items, or when you need to travel a very long distance. Normal should be walking and/or cycling, perhaps in combination with public transport.
Through the new Transport Plan for Brisbane – Strategic Directions, Council will apparently deliver “farsighted, innovative and people-focused transport planning for Brisbane’s future.” We like the sound of the people-focused aspect, even it the rest sounds like buzz-word bingo.
The plan doesn’t have any deliverables (we guess/hope they are coming later?), but the “outcomes” they promise are:
- An easy Commute
- we want Brisbane’s public transport to be your first choice for getting into the city;
- Supporting Business and Industry
- we need transport that means … freight, can get where it needs to go on time, particularly to and from our port and airport.
- we must offer tourists a great experience of getting around our beautiful city.
- A Healthy Lifestyle
- Brisbane has what it takes to become one of the world’s great walking and cycling cities
- Our city streets must balance* traffic with safe, comfortable, uninterrupted journeys for walking and cycling, especially around the CBD’s retail heart and leading to universities, stadiums and entertainment venues.
- Walking and cycling networks are affordable, enjoyable and healthy ways to get where you need to go. Our vision is for even more of them!
(*Way too often in the past, the term “balance” has meant nothing other than squeezing out on-road cycling facilities in favour of people driving cars. We are hoping the “radical new approach to transport planning” might actually change that)
- Connected Communities
- Fast, frequent and reliable public transport services should be the foundation of that network. These should complement active transport options.
- A Sustainable Future
- Getting more people onto our active and public transport routes is the best way to keep our air clean, reduce our carbon footprint and support better community health.
- Our transport solutions will minimise impacts on the environment – maximising energy efficiency and reducing emissions and pollutants.
And one perhaps less directly impacting cycling ….
- Embracing Innovation
- Driverless cars, drones, automated logistics, global transport apps and other exciting new technologies have the potential to fundamentally change our transport future.
So The Vision offers something we could get excited about – if we can put our skepticism aside. What about The Plan? That will be the subject of our next post!