11 Oct 2020

State Election Campaign

Kudos to Andrew Newbold, the LNP candidate for Greenslopes for taking on the hilly end of the Greenslopes electorate with Belinda on Friday morning. A few hills don’t make cycling impossible (especially with more and more electric bikes about), but they do mean those routes with gentler gradients become really important.

Belinda and Andrew checked out the fabulous new Veloway, plus the older section through to Greenslopes bus station, and then made their way back along Logan Rd – which is much less cycle friendly.

Andrew’s an experienced road rider, but could see that a few of the places we went this morning were not suitable for kids, older folk, or people who are just not keen to mix in traffic. Turning off onto bike paths and side-streets after Logan Rd was more relaxing and sociable. We discussed lower speed limits; Andrew said that as someone who drives a lot for work, 30kph feels incredibly slow. But he could see that for neighbourhood streets—where you would only expect to drive a few hundred meters at the start or end of a journey—it could make sense, and might also help reduce rat-running.

Like many of us who have been very active in the past but have found less opportunity for exercise recently, Andrew has discovered that some of his clothes have shrunk. Active transport can be a good antidote to that, as you get incidental exercise just going about your day. Andrew enjoyed hopping back on the bike for a casual ride, rather than for training – but of course we still earned coffee at the end of it; it’s important to support local business…

Also in Greenslopes, thanks to Labor‘s Joe Kelly MP for his shout out to East BUG at his campaign launch, and for his advocacy for uninterrupted travel the entire length of the Veloway, plus improved links onto it from suburbs like Holland Park and Camp Hill. We’d like to see more political candidates put cycling front and centre of their election campaigns and be proud to push for projects that will make cycling accessible for people of all ages and abilities. Big road announcements are boring; investment in active transport creates more jobs, is better for local business, and helps create healthier and happier communities.

This memory popped up in our Facebook feed from 4 years ago: Di Farmer MP, Member for Bulimba, was the first member of the Queensland parliament we convinced to go for a bike ride with us, near the beginning of our Space for Cycling campaign. Since then we’ve been joined by dozens of politicians and political candidates. Still, we probably won’t manage to catch up with the candidates in all Brisbane electorates, but if there’s someone you’d really like to see on a bike—or better yet, if you can help us set up a ride with your local candidates—let us know. If you’re a candidate in Brisbane and have fear of missing out, send us a message!

Safety Improvements at RBWH

We welcome news from Member for McConnel, Grace Grace MP that the state government are looking at ways to improve connections between the bus station at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital and the Bowen Hills train station, with a key focus being better safety for pedestrians and cyclists at the Bowen Bridge Road and O’Connell Terrace intersection where Carolyn Lister was tragically killed earlier this year.

We’re really keen to see improvements to O’Connell Tce, and better connections through Bowen Hills to the hospital. Joining segments of existing bikeway could create a useful link through to Breakfast Creek to join the Lores Bonney Riverwalk to Hamilton. We’re eager to learn more about what’s proposed, and to ensure that the State Government and Brisbane City Council are on the same page.

Danger on Old Cleveland Road

This, on the other hand, is frightening: EaST BUG received notification that Department of Transport and Main Roads are about to start work “upgrading” the Gateway Motorway on-ramp from Old Cleveland Rd. The $5 million project will remove what limited provision currently exists for people cycling west on Old Cleveland Rd, and leave them totally exposed as TWO lanes of 80kph traffic turn across/through them. Should you decide to bail (or get forced) off to the left, you will then face 3 more ugly intersections with turning conflicts to get back onto Old Cleveland Rd. The plan for a “bike lane along Old Cleveland Rd” for a few hundred metres before it disappears in the middle of an intersection would be laughable if it wasn’t so scary.

The State Government’s Cycling Infrastructure Policy says “Explicit provisions are required as part of projects on Principal Cycle Network (PCNP) routes and are typically high quality solutions.” Old Cleveland Road is a PCNP route, and is the primary link to Brisbane from the suburbs of Belmont, Chandler, Capalaba and the rest of the Redlands. Far from providing high standard facilities for cycling, this project will make it deadly.

The Congestion Busting Con

After a federal budget full of promises about congestion busting, and as we head to a state election with the major parties making proud announcements about big road projects, here’s another reminder:

“The short answer to the question about road building and expansion is that new roads do little to reduce congestion, and they will usually result in increased emissions.”

Simon Kingham, Professor, University of Canterbury

On the other hand, investing in walking and cycling creates more jobs, reduces overall emissions (although construction methods still matter), and is a great investment in public health.

Road Biggering – Mount Gravatt East

Next time someone says “there’s not enough room for a bikeway” (or for one of a comfortable width) it’s worth considering how many trees will be removed, and how much property resumed—including from private properties and a chunk of park—to add extra turning lanes at the intersection of Wecker Rd and Newnham Rd in Mount Gravatt East.

This intersection expansion will also remove 12 on-street parking spaces. We can’t see any basis for the claims that the project “will improve connectivity, particularly for pedestrians and cyclists”. That’s despite the intersection being right next to Mount Gravatt East State School and Aquatic Centre.

Current low numbers of daily cyclists isn’t an indication of how many people would ride if the area was more cycle friendly—particularly on the east-west route along Wecker Rd and Creek Rd towards Mount Gravatt Central. These roads are all on the Principal Cycle Network.

This $13.7million “upgrade” is being funded by Brisbane City Council as part of the “Better Roads for Brisbane” program, and the Australian Government as part of the “Urban Congestion Fund“—so it is your rates and taxes at work. We shouldn’t keep settling for projects that practically do nothing to make it safer and more convenient to reach local destinations by walking and cycling.

Road Biggering – Kangaroo Point

When we and others (in particular Cr Jonathan Sri, Councillor for The Gabba) highlighted concerns about the project to enlarge the intersection of Main St and River Tce in Kangaroo Point, Council agreed to widen the western footpath a little to bring it up to the 2.5m minimum requirement to be classified as a shared path under AustRoads. It’s good to see that now underway.

The road widening project is is jointly funded by Brisbane City Council and the Australian Government through the Roads to Recovery program ($4.6 million), while the footpath widening project is funded by the Queensland Government under their COVID Works for Queensland program. We think it’s a poor reflection on our whole system that reinstating a footpath – and making is just a tiny bit wider (but still not up to standard for a busy shared path) – is not included in the scope of an intersection “upgrade” and requires additional funding.

LNP Promises at Rochedale

Interestingly, the LNP candidate for Mansfield, Janet Wishart and Councillor Steven Huang have announced that an LNP state government would tip in $3.5 million for an upgrade to the intersection of Miles Platting Road and School Road in Rochedale – despite those both roads being Council controlled rather than the responsibility of TMR. As we’ve highlighted recently, Miles Platting Road has zero provision for walking and cycling, which is a big deal, as it connects the suburb of Rochedale to the bus station at Eight Mile Plains. The same goes for School Rd past Council’s planned Metro depot site. So we would welcome improvements—no matter who funds them—as long as they include good quality connected facilities for people to chose active transport.

Centenary Bridge Duplication

Premier Annastacia Palasczczuk announced more road project funding this week, including $112 million towards a $224 million Centenary Bridge widening. (The other 50% was in Tuesday’s federal budget). Claims of ‘congestion busting’ aside (hint: it won’t), what we’re excited to see is the inclusion of an upgraded cycleway across the bridge – a 5m wide path with dedicated cycling and pedestrian sections. The current shared path is only 2.4m wide, and has struggled to cope during the COVID-19 cycling and walking boom, as Jess Pugh MP for Mount Ommaney experienced first hand on her ride with Chris recently. Construction is due to start late 2021.

Health Benefits and Women Cycling

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Did you know that regular physical activity like walking or cycling decreases the risk of breast cancer by around 20%. For those who do contract it, 30 minutes of exercise five times per week can achieve a 40% reduction in breast cancer recurrence and death.

Image credit: Trevor Shilton, Director Cardiovascular Health at Heart Foundation from his presentation at the 2020 Australian Walking and Cycling Conference.

Finding time for exercise is not difficult when it’s what you do to get around. And for short trips, the total time taken when travelling by bike can often be less than the door to door journey by car or public transport. But for women especially, the main barrier to riding a bike regularly is fear of having to share the road with fast motor vehicle traffic. Investment in protected space for cycling is like a magic pill for public health!

Speaking of women and cycling, the New York Times reports that in US cities—most notably New York—there was a surge in the number of women who took to bicycling after lockdown orders eliminated the main barrier research has shown keeps women from cycling: streets that often feel perilous for cyclists.

We know what supports women to take healthy transport; separation from the threat of fast-moving motor vehicle traffic!!

North Brisbane Bikeway Update

Brisbane North BUG are thrilled that there’s so much progress on the latest stage of the North Brisbane Bikeway, less than two weeks after construction started. So they’ve covered the construction from every angle for this gallery. The pictures highlight the s-bend across from Wooloowin Station – it’s great that this dangerous section of Dickson Street is being tackled first.

You can see why this ‘Stage 4’ of the bikeway is so important – there’s a lot of motor vehicle traffic in a narrow corridor. So a safe, separated bikeway along Dickson Street is essential if more people are going to ride to and from north and northeast Brisbane.

One thing to watch out for, whether you’re on your bicycle, on foot, or in a car or truck, is that the pedestrian crossing to Wooloowin train station has been blocked as part of the construction work. So everyone should take extra care until an alternative safe crossing has been put in place.

Other News

Over the weekend we were excited to see the counter on the Bicentennial Bikeway heading towards one million trips. But then on Sunday evening it seemed to stop counting, and by Monday morning it was blank. So were disappointed we didn’t get a chance to capture that milestone.

Energex are performing emergency work to repair underground electrical cables located under the Veloway in South Brisbane. This requires closing a section of the Veloway each night from 8.00pm – 5.30am from 7 October until 7 November. The bikeway will be reinstated and open during the day.
There will be a night-time detour in place via Allen St and Vulture St. Or you might find using the Gabba Bikeway and ramp at Trinity Lane more convenient. (It would be even better if that ramp had been upgraded!!)

I’m watching you…

Has anyone else found the magpies very active this Spring? Perhaps they’re responding to all the new riders about recently??

Our golden rules: wear eye protection (preferably wrap-around sunnies), and try not to panic or wave your arms around. Remember, losing control of your bike can be dangerous; magpies generally aren’t. You can warn others by reporting swoopy birds in your area and receive reports of new activity via Magpie Alert.

In Melbourne, the rail level crossing at Seaford has been removed. But walking and cycling links have been maintained – indeed greatly improved. Check out the before and after photos from @MelbourneWay on Twitter:

Have you had a chance to ride the Ipswich Motorway Cycleway yet? West BUG takes us on a virtual tour:

Finally, don’t forget our Tuesday slow rolls: join us any Tuesday evening in King George Square at 6:30pm as we set out to join the dots and follow the trail that will soon be the CityLink Cycleway!