This week saw the start of construction on stages 2 and 3 of the North Brisbane Bikeway at last! We also saw progress on the Woolloongabba Bikeway, an update on the Jim Soorley Bikeway erosion issue, and tracked down the candidates for the federal electorates of Brisbane and Ryan to hear what they had to say about active transport.
North Brisbane Bikeway stages 2 and 3 gets started
After a loooong campaign, representatives from Brisbane North BUG, Northern Bikeway Action Group, and Brisbane CBD BUG were excited to join Minister Mark Bailey MP and Bicycle Queensland CEO Anne Savage for the official start of construction of the North Brisbane Bikeway stages 2 and 3. This project will extend the existing bikeway from its current termination at Somerset St, Windsor, up to Rigby St (just before Wooloowin Station), soon to be followed by stage 4 through to Price St. Ultimately, we’d like to see the bikeway extended to Eagle Junction to connect up with the Kedron Brook Bikeway, giving access to the Brisbane Airport, Jim Soorley Bikeway, and new Gateway North Bikeway.
The Brisbane Times even ran a 100% positive story, including a quote from Andrew from North BUG: “This is an essential missing link in connecting the northern suburbs to the city. This important infrastructure will make people feel safer and choose to be active and ride to the city.”
2019 Federal Election Campaign
On Tuesday evening, Donald and Mitch attended a Politics in the Pub event to hear from candidates for the Brisbane electorate; Trevor Evans MP (LNP), Paul Newbury (Labor), Andrew Bartlett (Greens), Kamala Emanuel (Socialist Alliance), and Aaron Whitaker (UAP). Questions from the audience were very much dominated by concern about the climate crisis, but unfortunately we weren’t able to get in a question about sustainable transport – even though transport is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas pollution in Australia, and in urban environments paving space for cars uses a lot of land that could otherwise support trees and green space.
Mitch took the opportunity to catch up with the LNP, Labor and Greens candidates afterwards, and ask them about the lack of money in the federal transport budget for active transport.
- Trevor Evans (LNP) acknowledged that the federal government needs to do better with Black Spot funding to ensure it has good outcomes for cycling and walking (the Wickham St / Brooks St intersection being a recent example where it had the opposite effect). He also mentioned that on occasions when the federal government has been willing to spend money on cycling infrastructure they have been surprised that councils and state have not had business cases prepared for projects they want funded. (We think this is a major lesson for Brisbane!).
- Paul Newbury (Labor) referred to his party’s $260 million commitment to upgrade the nation’s cycling paths to encourage more people to ride bicycles to work or school and capitalise on the rapidly expanding cycling tourism market.
- Andrew Bartlett (The Greens) re-iterated his party’s long-term commitment to investing cycling and walking infrastructure: $250 million each year for each of the next 10 years!
Mitch had a second dose of federal politics on Wednesday when he and Belinda went along to a community forum at Kenmore to hear from candidates in the seat of Ryan: Jake Schoermer (Greens), Larry Crouch (UAP), Joanne Webb (Animal Justice Party), Peter Cossar (Labor), and Julian Simmonds (LNP).
Mitch asked what policies the parties had in place to support active transport, and was heartened to hear universal support for more people travelling by bike. Larry (UAP) highlighted the value for mental health in a society which seems increasingly stressed and impatient. Jake (Greens) observed that investing in infrastructure for cycling has potential to achieve far more for the community than the same amount spent shifting a road bottleneck slightly further up or downstream. Julian (LNP) acknowledged the value of active transport as a congestion-buster, and pointed to his track record as local councillor for Walter-Taylor – including the Indooroopilly Bikeway which is planned to be built along Radnor St, providing a missing link under the bridges.
We also had some good discussions with locals who told us they ride – but go to some great lengths to avoid Moggill Road at certain times. One gentleman told us he’d ridden to work every day of his working life… but not since he broke his neck. Cycling. On Sylvan Rd. (Which didn’t make Belinda feel so good about her ride home afterwards…)
During the week, The Greens formally announced their active transport policy, which includes support for a $1 billion investment in cycling and walking over the next 4 years. Donald caught up with the Greens candidate in his electorate of Brisbane, Andrew Bartlett, to talk about what this could mean for the inner Brisbane electorate. It was good to hear from Andrew that he supports calls for protected bike lanes on North Quay and Adelaide St as part of the Brisbane Metro project (to which the Federal Government is contributing). Andrew also believes the federal government should contribute to green bridges from Bulimba to Teneriffe, and from Kangaroo Point to the CBD.
The Woolloongabba Bikeway became a little more colourful this week, and we were happy to see the new road markings and give-way signs at the entrance to the service lane from Stanley St.
The news was not so good regarding the intersection of Stanley and Vulture Rd. Back in March, East BUG Inc. wrote to the Lord Mayor with our concerns about Council’s plans to widen Vulture St immediately after that intersection, and the impact this would have on the bikeway, and on the hundreds of pedestrians who cross there each day from the bus station. His response: “Council is considering pedestrian and cyclist access, safety and amenity in the development of the preliminary design for these works.”
We’re underwhelmed by that. We’ve seen time and again that Council prioritises access, safety and amenity for people attempting to walk and cycle behind the convenience of people who chose to travel by car. We challenge them to live up to their promise of change, and make this intersection work for people ahead of cars.
Also this week, Council announced that work at the intersection with Leopard St is finally about to begin. It is scheduled to be finished by the end of July. To complete the bikeway, the left turn slip-lane from Stanley St onto the Pacific Motorway will be closed and replaced with a signalised left turn for vehicles under 14.5m in length – and not between 4pm to 6pm Monday to Friday.
We’re obviously disappointed that this change to the original plans has delayed the project. We hope the signals can be managed so that cyclists travelling inbound on the bikeway aren’t held up much more than if they were travelling on the road. (For many of us who use this route, a few seconds extra delay travelling inbound is a small price to pay for the ability to ride outbound – which was previously impossible without taking to the footpath. However, if it adds minutes of additional wait-time for people cycling and walking, that would be a very disappointing blot on this important project.)
In Council’s committee meeting, Cr Jonathan Sri asked if the illuminated lane-information sign could be removed from the completed section of the bikeway along Stanley St just east of the Annerley Rd intersection. Later in the week it was moved – only to reappear further east and block the section between Reid St and Ipswich Rd! That’s frustrating because there is room to place a sign alerting drivers of the changed traffic conditions without plonking it in the middle of the bikeway. Riders would still have to choose between the road (inbound) and the footpath at Reid St, but it would be nice to be able to relax for just a few short metres more!
Brisbane City Council meeting
Council returned from their Autumn break on Tuesday, after appointing a new Lord Mayor, and reshuffling their committees. Belinda went along to observe the first Public and Active Transport Committee Meeting under incoming Chair, Cr Ryan Murphy. The presentation was on the bus stop accessibility improvement program; Brisbane City Council has around 6,000 bus stops, and is in the midst of a big program of work to make these all disability access compliant by the end of 2022. That’s really important work – everyone should be able to access public transport – but sometimes it’s frustrating that there doesn’t seem to be an emphasis on keeping the footpath navigable by people not using the bus stop.
One significant item in the decisions of Council’s executive group over their break was agreeing to a “significant contracting plan for the design and construction of the Hanlon Park redevelopment”. This is important because it includes the underpass under Logan Rd at Stones Corner on the Norman Creek Bikeway. According to the schedule, the contract would expect to commence in August 2019. However the bulk of the bikeways component of the funding is only indicated for 2021-2022, so it could a while before we get this desperately needed link.
In other news
We reported that with the new flex-post barriers, the bike lane configuration on Gladstone Rd inbound just after Annerley Rd appears to be working much more effectively to prevent drivers from cutting the corner. That’s a big improvement for people cycling – both those entering the lane from the shared path at this point, and those already on the road. Our remaining concern is that the bike lane just afterwards is very narrow – while there is a wide painted centre island. We’ve like to see that extra space used for a wider cycle lane all the way to the intersection with TJ Doyle Memorial Drive.
Council announced that work is about to begin work on the Botanic Gardens Riverwalk and River Hub projects, meaning that part of Bunya Walk will be closed from mid-May 2019 to early 2020. The detour will be via existing paths in the gardens.
Bicycle Queensland provided an update on the Jim Soorley Bikeway erosion problem (where the path has been slowly crumbling into the Shultz Canal). Under “Bikeway Reconstruction”, Council included $161,000 in their 2017-18 budget for “Jim Soorley Bikeway Erosion Protection, Nudgee” and $373,000 in 2018-19 for “Jim Soorley Bikeway Stage 2, Nundah”, and we hadn’t been able to get a response for Council explaining the delays. BQ CEO Anne Savage spoke to Katherine Feeney on ABC Brisbane Radio on 9 May; apparently the delay has been caused by the requirement for Council to get a development permit from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries… But all systems are go now – with work set for July 2019, and expected to take 4-6 weeks.
EaST BUG got a little fed up with the lack of bike parking at Murarrie Station, where a new Park’n’Ride facility will soon open (costing around $5 million), but the only bike rack is practically inaccessible from the northern side of that station. In better news, a bike rack finally appeared at nearby Cannon Hill station, where we’ve been asking for one for years as people have been getting nasty notes from Queensland Rail for locking their bikes to the fence.
Elsewhere in Australia and around the world
We were rather envious to hear that Melbourne City Council unanimously supported a motion to create protected bike lanes along Exhibition St (which is perhaps equivalent to Brisbane’s George St). While Brisbane’s new Lord Mayor boasts of having a fresh team with fresh ideas, Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Sally Capp is actually walking the walk, showing the leadership required for positive change in her city!
This is how “congestion busting” can actually work: The Belgian capital of Brussels has almost completed one of the most ambitious city makeovers this century, banishing all motor vehicles—with the exception of emergency and delivery vehicles – from a large network of streets and squares. And to prevent outer neighbourhoods from turning into commuter rat runs, they are creating dozens of 30kph zones. Citywide, their mobility plan aims for a 24 percent reduction in car use and a fourfold increase in cycling by 2030.
E-bikes are increasingly a promising transportation method for older people. They encourage an active lifestyle, which is crucial for supporting overall health, and may even alleviate symptoms of later-in-life diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. When communities prioritise safety and mobility for older people, they make the streets better for all of us–especially as we all age. [Link]
Bike Auckland reports: Secure bike parking at public transport hubs is one of those small investments with massive payoffs. Combined with safe local bike routes, it offers people more reliable, healthy and flexible travel choices; encourages drop-in access to shops and destinations along the way – including the school run; and takes short car trips off the road, while cutting down on ‘hide-and-ride’ parking on quiet local streets.
Blogger PerthBiker gave us a look at some of the excellent facilities coming online in Western Australia, saying: “Our state government can provide high quality principal shared paths next to motorways and railway lines, but the potential of these major links will not be realised until we are able to leave the safety of these paths and enter local streets with a similar level of confidence. Painted lanes next to motor traffic travelling at 40 – 70 km/h is not good enough.” That could be written about Brisbane, except somehow we can’t manage to utilise the railway corridors here.