Surprise! Now that the Woolloongabba Bikeway has officially opened, drivers have stopped illegally turning left from Stanley St onto the M3 during the period from 4pm to 6pm when it is (and always has been) banned. Right??
Wrong. As you can see in this picture, taken on Monday at 5pm. Every light cycle, multiple drivers ignore the signs and red turn arrows and turn across the bikeway and pedestrian crossing while those people have a green light. A driver doing this could be charged with multiple infringements, each amounting to a $400 fine and 3 demerit points. But police have stated that they cannot enforce the left turn ban! This will end in tragedy.
Closing this left turn was a recommendation from the Department of Transport and Main Roads, which Brisbane City Council included in their plans. But that planning was overruled by the local member, Jackie Trad MP and Minister Mark Bailey MP. This is car-centric thinking at its worst; the safety of people walking and on bikes comes secondary to the convenience of people in cars.
Nearby, the recently completed Kangaroo Point Bikeway, between the Goodwill Bridge and the start of the Veloway cost $10.5 million. While we like the wide path and separation along Lower River Terrace, the treatment of Stanley St / Little Dock St is disappointing. After months of closures and inconvenience, a water-filled pothole remains near the southern end of the bridge. We’re fairly sure it wasn’t caused by bicycle traffic.
In slightly better news, it was good to see work start on the pathway through Howard Smith Wharves to resurface it with a more suitable material. But commuters who rely on this path are going to be facing delays for the next month. If only the developers had listened to the advice from groups like us and Brisbane City Council, and had done a better job in the first place.
For a view of what the path through Howard Smith Wharves should have looked like, to cater for both through traffic and people enjoying the space by the river, check out the latest from the Bicentennial Bikeway “Goodwill Extension” past the QUT ferry terminal. We’ve very much looking forward to this opening—hopefully in October, shortly after Riverfire.
This week we also highlighted some silliness on Parkland Blvd (through Roma St Parklands), which is the main cycling connection from the northern suburbs to the CBD via the Normanby Bikeway. It now has a range of speed limit zones between the bikeway connection and Roma St: 40kph. 10kph. 20kph. 10kph. 20kph. 40kph. 50kph. The cobble-topped speed bumps are unpleasant for riders, and seem to encourage drivers to rush dangerous overtaking manoeuvres between them before braking sharply. It’s time to set a consistent and reasonable speed, appropriate to the use of this public space. If that can’t be made to work, it’s time properly separate transport modes, and reconsider if it’s appropriate for the stationary cars to have their own dedicated, shaded lanes.
Since council has added Economic and Tourism Development to the scope of the Public and Active Transport Committee, active transport seems to have been pushed aside. Belinda went along to the committee’s meeting on Tuesday morning, and heard a rather self congratulatory presentation on the Asia Pacific Cities Summit and Mayors’ Forum.
Fortunately two of us were been able to make the time to attend on Tuesday morning, so Mitch was able to go along to the Infrastructure Committee which is held concurrently. In that committee, Strategic Planning Manager, Lindsay Enright gave a presentation about the construction plan for the next stage of the Queens Wharf resort and casino development. Walter Taylor Ward Councillor, Cr James Mackay asked a pertinent question about the impacts on the Bicentennial Bikeway and the potential for flooding. From this we learned that final design not yet been released from State to Council.
Those who have followed us for a while will know that we have campaigned hard for proper separated space to allow people on bikes to be able to continue to ride along the Bicentennial Bikeway along the river, avoiding a similar debacle to that which has unfolded at Howard Smith Wharves. So far, we have seen the Queensland Government sink money into an investigation of alternative bikeway structures built out over the river, but ultimately unsurprisingly conclude that would be prohibitively expensive. It’s hard to understand how construction can be underway without final plans being made available.
Mitch had a busy day on Tuesday, leaving from Council to set up a stall at QUT’s Being Active Expo with our display gear loaded into the bike trailer for the trip to QUT’s Gardens Point Campus. It was a lovely day on the east lawn and the expo had a good turnout from students and staff. Many people Mitch and Murray spoke with already follow us on social media and regularly commute by bike. The most common question from these people was: “when will the CBD protected bike grid be built?” Others who visited the stand were not commuter cyclists but were interested in commuting by bike. The most common concern for those people was the danger of mixing with fast moving motor traffic on the roads. We introduced them people to our proposal for a protected bike grid in the city and they were instant supporters. If only we could have the same influence on Brisbane City Councillors!
Mitch’s next stop was to roll out the green carpet for our part of a display for the Green the Streets group at The Ekka. We checked it out later on our Tuesday evening Slow Roll.
The Green Streets display envisions what Brisbane might be like in 30 years. Our of course is for a future where it’s easy and comfortable for people of all ages and abilities to get around by bike! On Friday, Mitch was on hand for the RNA opening today by His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC. Apparently, the official ribbon went missing overnight, so some green yarn from the yarn-bombed tree opposite our display did the job nicely, and was rather appropriate for the ‘Green The Streets’ display. Mitch got the important job of holding the ribbon. 🤩
Bridges, Tunnels, and Riverwalks…
The final design for the new Neville Bonner Bridge was announced recently, with construction to begin in early 2020. We don’t 100% agree with Kurilpa Futures that the existing Goodwill and Victoria Bridges have spare capacity; at the moment they’re actually quite crowded for people walking and cycling. However we do agree that the new bridge to the casino will add little value to Brisbane. It is designed to funnel people into the commercial resort, rather than connect to the streets of the CBD. It will effectively privatise public space at South Bank for the landing, while the Cultural Forecourt will be taken over for a construction site at the expense of events like the popular Night Noodle Markets and French Festival. Worst of all, the landing near the Wheel of Brisbane will involve the destruction of mature shade trees (where are the Lower River Terrace residents with their outrage about those??) while impinging on a popular public space.
We’ve previously campaigned and petitioned for any new bridge to allow cycling access, and to connect meaningfully to Bicentennial Bikeway and CBD street network. Although the $100million for this bridge will not be paid directly by the state government, it has been effectively granted as a concession to the Queens Wharf developers who also benefit by taking control over a big chunk of land and river access. Put simply; this is not the bridge Brisbane needs.
Where Brisbane does need a new bridge, is downstream from the Story Bridge. Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner’s plan for 5 new green bridges unfortunately doesn’t include a cross-river bridge there, even though the need for a better connection across the Bulimba Reach is obvious to anyone who has observed traffic congestion in Brisbane’s eastern suburbs and tried travelling instead by bike or public transport.
Various investigations over the decades have concluded that a bridge between Bulimba and Teneriffe would be too expensive and imposing, as the Brisbane River there is wide, and the Port of Brisbane regulations technically require a clearance height of 30m to match the Story Bridge (even though it has been decades since tall ships have come as far as the Bulimba Reach).
There are of course alternatives like swing, bascule, and lift bridges. (See for example the two bridges over the Port River at Port Adelaide which open daily). But another option could be a tunnel for walking and cycling. There are plenty of precedents – including the dual tunnels under the River Tyne near Newcastle in England, which first opened in 1951, and re-opened today following refurbishments. (Check out these pictures from Twitter user @JonahCycles) At its peak, 20,000 users rode or walked through those tunnels each day.
We don’t know if the business case for a walking and cycling tunnel under the Brisbane River has ever been seriously investigated. We’re hoping that might have been included in the state government’s Bulimba Peninsula Transport and Congestion Study, which representatives from East BUG participated in back in April 2018. We are still waiting to hear the outcomes from that study!
There was more pubic discussion this week about improving access to the University of Queensland by bike, with an article in Quest Community Newspapers. Between the end of the Bicentennial Bikeway at Toowong and the University is a bit of a wasteland through tight, steep, winding back streets to avoid the main roads. Brisbane City Council has done some preliminary investigations into a Riverwalk style solution. However, based on the costings for the Indooroopilly Riverwalk, that could be a very expensive exercise.
Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner has already announced plans for green bridges from West End to Toowong and West End to St Lucia, and we think a double jump bridge solution could solve the problem as well—particularly if the St Lucia end lands near Guyatt Park, perhaps at Laurence Street where the old ferry terminal is. While two bridges won’t be cheap, if the bridges are already being planned, then it would be an efficient way to maximise that investment.
Michael Berkman – Greens MP for Maiwar has flagged the idea of redesigning Sir Fred Schonell Drive to better prioritise cycling and buses as the quickest and cheapest solution. Though we know how politically difficult it is to reallocate space away from cars, it’s critical we assess these ideas closely rather than just dismiss them as too hard, or “a recipe for chaos” as the local councillor Cr James Mackay suggests.
Other news and opinion from around the world
This powerful article from New Zealand summarises why we often feel angry about the way active our public service (including professionals and elected officials at all levels of government) are failing the community when it comes to transport the transport environment: the places we live and play in and move through are structured in ways that harm us—especially our children.