11 April 2021

On the weekend, Queensland’s major tabloid newspaper published a story* lamenting that giant multi-lane roads are still eating up the public spaces that were once the social and commercial heart of Brisbane. CBD businesses that have been hit hard by lockdowns, restrictions, and the move to working from home are looking askance at the expanses of tarmac in front of them and imagining those spaces instead filled with outdoor dining, entertainment, retail stalls, gardens and shade trees, drawing people back into the CBD and raising consumer confidence.

While cities around the world have spent the last 12 months supporting their citizens who want healthier ways to travel by installing tens of kilometres of new protected cycleways, here in Brisbane, we’ve only just opened our first 1.6km on Edward St, Elizabeth St, William St, and Victoria Bridge. Despite being finished only minutes before a strict 3-day lockdown and the Easter holidays, hundreds of people have already discovered the new lanes and are using them every day.

Council hasn’t even needed to spend any of their massive promotional budget letting residents know about the new lanes, or that special rules have been enacted making it legal to ride them on an electric scooter. It has been left to Brisbane residents and visitors to discover the lanes themselves. That took no time at all for the delivery riders, and the take-away trade for businesses along Elizabeth St is booming. Others who may have been staying clear of the CBD are now discovering the new safe routes, and finding new favourite dining, drinking, and shopping venues.

Don’t forget to provide your feedback to Council on the CityLink Cycleway trial.

*Disclaimer: This is sadly not what the story said. You know the drill: please don’t click; don’t comment; don’t provide revenue or credibility to a media organisation working to create division and to undermine the health, happiness, and prosperity of our city.

Go Between Bridge

It really is like watching paint dry…

Although Brisbane has had a wet start to Autumn, we still can’t quite understand how resurfacing the cycleway on the Go Between Bridge has blown out from 3 weeks to almost 3 months. As far as we can see, there’s still work to do painting lines on this side before switching to the pedestrian walkway. It’s hard to imagine that will be completed in April as we were most recently advised by Transurban.

One lesson from this debacle is that future bridges and paths should have “raw” surfaces like brushed concrete or asphalt, rather than relying on coatings that blister, peel, or wear off and then take months to fix. Roads are regularly prepared in a few days and fully resurfaced overnight.

This project has so far disrupted around 90,000 trips, and it’s not over yet.

Cultural Centre Riverwalk

Another project that feels like it’s crawling along is the rejuvenation of the riverwalk at South Bank in front of GOMA, the State Library and Queensland Museum. At least the messaging has been consistent from Brisbane City Council; this was always expected to take until mid-2021.

Now the race is on though: will this or the brand new riverwalk at Indooroopilly be operational first??

Cross River Rail at Boggo Road

Late last year we wrote about proposed changes to the construction methods at the Cross River Rail southern portal at Boggo Road. We were particularly concerned about the proposed changes to spoil haulage routes that would have seen large trucks turning right from Annerley Rd into Peter Doherty St, and really messing with cyclists using the Gabba Bikeway on Annerley Rd.

We’re happy to report that feedback from us and others (including Brisbane City Council) has led to a review of the safety and traffic impacts, and a decision to stick with the previously approved spoil haulage route into the site via Boggo Rd and out via Peter Doherty St. This means the bikeway diversions on Annerley Rd are not required.

There will be upgrades to the existing traffic management measures on Boggo Rd where there is an important crossing point for people accessing the bus station and Dutton Park State School. This will include installing a fence along both sides of Boggo Road to redirect pedestrians and cyclist to the designated crossing point – which will be attended by traffic controllers during the hours of operation of the Boggo Road and Southern Portal Area worksites that overlap with school hours and peak pedestrian and cyclist flows through this area. Additionally, spoil haulage and materials/equipment deliveries will be minimised as far as practicable during the periods of 8:15am – 9:00am and 3:00pm – 3:15pm.

That all seems reasonable. We’re on record advocating for safer vehicle standards and a restriction on the type of trucks that can be used in high use pedestrian and cycle areas; but until such best practice is adopted in Brisbane, it’s vital that every possible safety measure is taken to minimise the risks from interactions.

One lingering concern though: will the new fencing provide sufficient room for someone with a cargo bike, tagalong, or trailer to navigate safely through the chicanes? We know there are a number of such families at Dutton Park State School and in the area who use this crossing regularly. If that’s you, let us know how it’s going.

Advertising Devices Local Law

Brisbane City Council are proposing changes to the rules around “permitted advertising devices” in Brisbane. The proposed new rules are open for public input until 15 April, and we are preparing a submission.

We note that there are conditions applying to all types of advertising devices with regard to traffic safety:

a) An advertising device must not obstruct the passage of pedestrians or vehicles.
b) An advertising device must not obstruct a pedestrian’s view of traffic, or a motorist’s or cyclist’s view of pedestrians, other traffic, or the road ahead.
c) An advertising device must not be distracting to drivers or cyclists.

There are also specific rules relating to footway signs (defined as: a portable, freestanding advertising device, normally supported by an ‘A’ or inverted ‘T’ frame and typically displayed on a footway):

A footway sign on a footway must be positioned—
a) at least 450 mm from the kerb; and
b) so that there is a pedestrian corridor of a minimum unobstructed width of 2 m between the property boundary and the sign; and
c) no greater than 4 m from the allotment boundary of the premises which is responsible for the sign

We see a number of issues that are not well covered by the proposed rules:

1) For ‘footways’ that are also shared paths on major cycle routes, a 2m unobstructed clear path is not really sufficient. The requirement to have the sign within 4m of the property boundary may actually be counter-productive in such situations, narrowing an otherwise usable path. (Also, rules are only as effective as compliance and enforcement…)

2) Bus stop advertising panels don’t appear to be covered under section 3 which describes “types of permitted advertising devices and applicable conditions”. However these panels often hinder the passage of pedestrians, mobility devices, bicycles, and scooters. Indeed they typically don’t leave a 2m unobstructed passage, and they definitely obstruct a pedestrian’s view of other pedestrian/cycle traffic, and cyclist’s view of pedestrians, or other traffic, on the path ahead.

3) Permanent advertising pillars installed on footpaths also don’t appear to be covered under section 3. Many of these also cause the issues discussed in point 2 above. If the new rules make fixed advertising pillars illegal, we will be very happy to see them go!!

4) Although the rules address election signs displayed on a vehicle (including a bicycle), there is no mention of general advertising signs on vehicles or trailers, where the advertising sign is clearly the primary use of the vehicle or trailer. Thus the rules don’t appear to address the problem of long-term parking of vehicles and trailers which are obviously purely for the purpose of being a billboard. In a number of locations where this practice regularly occurs, it creates needless danger to people cycling when the shoulder or bike lane is blocked by the advertising sign.

Around the Suburbs

We’re very happy to find there is now a sealed path along Miles Platting Road from the Eight Mile Plains bus station to the M1 off-ramp. Thanks to Councillor Steven Huang who joined Belinda for a walk here before the election last year, and has followed up to ensure this project was delivered as a priority.

This is a big help; previously you had to walk through the grass or brave riding on the busy road.

However once you reach the M1 off-ramp, you still have that difficult choice.

Corrine McMillan MP, State Member for Mansfield, is promoting a petition asking Council to connect a cycleway through to the rapidly growing suburb of Rochedale. Please add your signature.

We need all levels of government working together to deliver the type of connected infrastructure that will feel safe and convenient enough to entice people to take healthy, active transport more often, instead of defaulting to driving.

In Morningside, EaST BUG report that there’s plenty of opportunity for combining public and active transport; you can walk to the bus stop and pedal while you wait… However they recommend against locking your bike to the rack on the corner of Wynnum Rd and Burrai St, as the rack itself is only secured by single a cable tie. There’s a danger that any bike left here might be transferred to Cash Converters across the road…

Also in Morningside, there was evidence this week of another driver failing to safely navigate the roundabout at the intersection of Thynne Rd, Burrai St and Pashen St in Morningside. That’s only 6 weeks since we last posted about a similar incident. Brisbane City Council apparently don’t keep track of how often they need to replace the signs and street furniture here, and they don’t consider this a dangerous intersection.

Across town, West BUG report some positive changes big and small:

The banana bars gone at Quarry Rd.

Cyclists Must Dismount signs are gone from Long Street East/Kitchener Street (thanks Cr Nicole Johnston).

Indooroopilly Riverwalk edging ever closer to completion – hopeful for a May opening despite recent wet weather.

World News

Results of a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and reported in the New York Times show that adding bike lanes to urban streets can increase the number of cyclists across an entire city, not just on the streets with new bike lanes.

In New Zealand, Wellington City Council are exploring a plan to ban cars from the inner city by 2025. The goal is to remove all private vehicles on key inner-city streets, with only electric delivery vehicles and buses allowed.

“It’s about showing the inner city can be a place for people, it doesn’t have to be all created for cars and vehicles.”

Wellington City Councillor, Tamatha Paul

Way to go Wellington!

This excellent and impassioned piece was written by Tom Flood on Twitter last year. It applies equally well in Brisbane; decades of decisions have not only prioritised the speedy movement of vehicular traffic, but also the storage of those vehicles when they’re not even in use.

Note to City Council, Tom Flood

“Our city could’ve chosen life, but they chose cars.”

Tom Flood

It should not be left to a group of volunteer citizens like Space for Cycling Brisbane to explain to city councillors why they should care about life.