In this week’s digest:
But first up, we’d like to give a quick shout out to Damian for all his work over the years hosting the Brisbane Cyclist online discussion forum, along with its counterparts in Sydney and Melbourne. Since 2007 the forum has played an important role in the advocacy landscape in Brisbane, allowing people to meet, organise, discuss ideas, and sometimes just vent to a sympathetic audience. The forum will be closing down the forum at the end of April, so be sure to grab any archival information you might need. Thanks again Damian!
On the weekend, we had a chance to check out the latest progress on the Veloway Stage E at Tarragindi. It looks pretty much complete at the northern end, from Birdwood Rd to about Peronne Rd. There’s still some concrete to be poured between there and the connection south of Gaza Rd, but it’s looking fantastic. Hopefully not long now until it opens!
Although we already mentioned it last week, we’re still celebrating: stages 2 and 3 of the North Brisbane Bikeway – it’s fabulous! A street-level, fully separated bikeway, with priority over turning traffic (with one notable exception), suitable for riders of all ages and abilities. Sometimes it has felt like this day would never arrive, so we say well done to the members of Brisbane CBD BUG, Brisbane North BUG and Airport BUG who lobbied for this connection for the better part of a decade, and to the staff at Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) who ensured it was designed to the highest standards. The North Brisbane Bikeway really raises the bar for cycleways, as these images from TMR show:
Meanwhile, Brisbane’s newest section of completed bikeway is 300m or so of shared path connecting the carpark at the end of Kavanagh Rd, Wishart to the Bulimba Creek Bikeway just near Faustini Bridge. No lighting, but Council have planted trees, so it will become a pleasant shaded path through the new park. The local wildlife seems to already approve:
(Has anyone else taken to getting their exercise at night when the paths are less crowded and social distancing is easier?)
Also in local news: Thanks to Cr James Mackay for this detailed explanation of Council’s Indooroopilly Riverwalk project which has just started construction this week. It will fix a key missing link in the cycling network in the western suburbs. Also, a bonus: a new bike parking shelter to be built close to Indooroopilly Train Station, making it easier to ride to the train from the western suburbs via the Centenary Bikeway and Indooroopilly Riverwalk.
We’ve held off on saying much about the Council election results while a number of wards were still in doubt. But we were happy to hear the announcement from re-elected Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner that he has appointed Cr Ryan Murphy to Civic Cabinet as Chair of the Public and Active Transport Committee. Cr Murphy has proven that he’s willing to hop on a bike, engage with the community, and work across levels of government and colours of politics towards good outcomes. This is what he had to say when Belinda caught up with him earlier this year for a ride around Chandler Ward:
Cycling through the coronavirus crisis
News from around the world has been bleak recently, but here’s a light-hearted observation on the situation many of us have found ourselves in. (We came across the original graphic on the blog site Accidental Fire, but there was something missing…. so we updated it. 😉🚲❤️)
As we write, cities around the world are temporarily reallocating road space from cars to people on foot and on bikes to keep key workers moving and residents in coronavirus lockdown healthy and active while socially distancing. It’s also the perfect time to try out interventions that are likely to be controversial right up until people experience how well they work… like protected bike lanes in the CBD.
Right now, while the Brisbane CBD is very quiet, would be the perfect time to trial a grid of protected bikeways, allowing essential workers to get around by bike without fearing conflict with cars, trucks and buses on the wide empty streets. Sure, there may be fewer motor vehicles than usual, however that doesn’t make cycling on the road feel any more safe – particularly for people who are new to riding to work because they’d prefer to avoid public transport. We know that protected bikeways are good for business, and they could offer the stimulus required for struggling CBD cafes, restaurants, and shops as the city comes back to life from the COVID-19 hibernation.
With many options for physical exercise ruled out by the latest stay-at-home rules, 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. People in Brisbane 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?
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. You can read more in our latest blog post Space for Social Distancing: Southbank.
This is really worth watching, from Denver, where Mayor Michael Hancock had the courage to close some streets for cars, and open them for people:
“I saw a lot of folks out, but none of them were shoulder-to-shoulder. There is plenty of space for people to be on the street, to be safe, to be separated.”
Mayors of the world, open up your streets for people. It’s that simple!
In case you think it might be hard, check out this footage from Berlin, where they’re just getting on with it:
Similarly, the City of Oakland, California are shutting 74 miles (120km) of streets to motor vehicles. Mayor Libby Schaaf announced the measure in a virtual town hall meeting held by Zoom: “Because of the reduction in car traffic, we will be closing off a number of streets so that bicyclists and pedestrians can spread out and take in fresh air safely on Oakland streets, free of cars.” They started the closures the next day.
In Brisbane, where we face similar challenges of footpaths which are too narrow for safe travel or exercise, the response from our city’s leaders so far has been to make on-street car parking free. 🙄
Not far out of the city, to the east, the shared path along Wynnum Rd in Norman Park has been left in a dangerous condition by the Council contractors responsible for the roadworks. EaST BUG are left wondering: how could this have been signed off as acceptable? It’s unsafe. Wynnum Rd is the primary cycling route to the eastern suburbs; it is really the only cycling route to Hawthorne and Bulimba, and it’s also a busy footpath. People rely on this route to get to work! Forget social distancing; there’s not even room to avoid collisions!
Looking to the future
Here are some interesting thoughts on how the coronavirus experience will shape the future of our city and suburbs:
“Dyed-in-the-wool motorists might actually start experiencing the joy of riding bike. They might then suddenly get it in terms of understanding how the street works for cyclists and what we do need to do to make our streets safer for cycling.”
Are Brisbane’s leaders ready to shift from their car-centric approach to investing more in what their communities value: local parks and suburban high streets, footpaths and walking trails, quiet streets, and bikeways that are suitable for use by the whole family?
On Twitter, the All-powerful Bicycle Lobby said it well:
“The thing about bikes is that while they’re excellent tools for getting around in a crisis they’re also excellent tools for getting around in general.”
In response to the economic impacts of the coronavirus containment measures, last week, Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner announced a $360 million “road resurfacing blitz” as part of a stimulus package to get projects built and staff employed despite the coronavirus impacts. We certainly don’t have a problem getting through the backlog of essential road-repair projects, but in terms of employment “bang for buck”, the best investment Council could make right now is in active transport infrastructure. Check out this graphic from Don Kostelec on Twitter:
It’s time to get out the list of shovel-ready cycleway projects and get moving!
What to watch
Looking for some interesting online content while we’re in stay-at-home mode? You can catch the sessions from the Digital WorldBike Conference online until the end of April, with a free registration. It’s pretty cool to be able to explore the exhibits and sessions in your own time (is this the future of international conferences?). Here are a couple of sessions we particularly recommend checking out in the Conference Hall:
- On the Mobility Stage: The Art of Using Mobility Language, by Prof. Dr. Marco te Brömmelstroet, Director of Urban Cycling Institute, University of Amsterdam
- On the Tech Stage: Secure and practicable: Solutions for bikes as utility vehicles, with Sven Kindervater, Head of Marketing & Strategy, citkar GmbH
Closer to home, check out one of the runners-up in the Brisbane Bike Bites short film competition: Face First explores mountain biking in Brisbane; the risks, rewards and brief history of the sport. It’s very Brisbane; we love it! ❤️🚲
One of the youngest film stars in the Brisbane Bike Bites short film competition this year was Zoe, who showed us her ride to school. Good work Zoe. We’re a little jealous of this car-free ride through the forest, and reckon we’d be tempted to take the long way too!
Are you missing your regular weekend ride and coffee catch-up with mates? The crew from Chain Gang Brisbane took us along on their Saturday morning ride around Brisbane’s famous River Loop for their entry in the Brisbane Bike Bites short film competition. Now we bring you the Director’s Cut – Isolation Edition.