Space for Social Distancing: Southbank

KSDcounterWith many options for physical exercise now ruled out, walking, running, and cycling are now more important than ever—for mental health, physical health, and for enabling people in essential occupations to get to work. In cities around the world, people are looking at their empty roads and crowded footpaths, wondering: why is so much public space devoted to motor vehicles when we need it to give people room to move safely?

Image by Brisbane Times on Facebook

Now is the perfect opportunity to quickly change the tables and get our city working for people again. Temporary measures made now can always be reversed as movement restrictions lift, but we suspect that once people experience how streets feel, smell, and sound without traffic, they won’t want to let that go.

We’re calling on Brisbane City Council to join cities like Denver in the US by closing key streets to free up space for people to move.

Starting with the simplest and most obvious:

1) Grey St in Southbank: take the pressure off busy Southbank Promenade by making Grey St a safe route for people trying to get through by bike. Do this by closing it to through-traffic, so that the sections between Russell St and Glenelg St and between Tribune and Vulture St are bikes-only, and the speed limit on the remainder is dropped to 30kph. (Through traffic should be using Merivale and Cordelia Streets, but traditionally, Grey St has been used as a convenient rat-run. It’s time to stop that.)


VicBridge2) Close Victoria Bridge to private motor vehicles, converting the road lanes to a cycleway, so people on bikes and scooters don’t have use the crowded “shared path”. Also look at using some of the road width on the downstream side to provide more space for pedestrians and runners on the bridge (an inbound lane?).

3) Vulture St: provide a safe cycling connection from Grey St to the Gabba Bikeway and Veloway (via the Kangaroo Point Bikeway), using temporary barricades to make the left-most lane past South Brisbane War Memorial Park into a protected cycleway. (This might require a diversion via Christie St for motor vehicles wanting to turn left from Vulture St to Dock St.)


And yes, there are many other candidate projects we could think of across the city. These could start tomorrow. If Brisbane City Council needs help creating pop-up bike lanes, we even have the recipe!