14 Feb 2021

A milestone for Space for Cycling Brisbane

A milestone popped up in our feed this week: 5 years ago, we delivered hundreds of postcards to the Lord Mayor’s office from people asking for a grid of protected bikeways in the CBD. Graham Quirk wouldn’t meet with us – and often seemed to be actively avoiding us.

But now, 5 years on, and with a different Lord Mayor, have you seen Elizabeth St and what’s coming on Edward St, William St, and Victoria Bridge?? 🚲🚲🛴💚

Active Transport Advisory Committee

This week started with the second meeting of the Active Transport Advisory Committee, which is a joint initiative between the Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council to improve how those organisations work together, with input from active transport advocates – including, pictured here, representatives from West BUG, Airport BUG, East BUG, North BUG and Queensland Walks. Details of the discussions are confidential, but our priorities are no secret to people who follow us on social media. Much of the progress we’ve seen in Brisbane over the last 6 months can be attributed to this collaborative approach, and the leadership provided by Minister Mark Bailey MP and Council’s Public and Active Transport Chair, Cr Ryan Murphy.

Viola Place – still waiting

One item high on our agenda is the missing connection at Eagle Farm. Sweethearts Brenda Bones and Digby Graves were heartbroken they couldn’t be together for Valentine’s Day. Brenda was left stranded at the end of Viola Place, unable to meet her beau just a few hundred metres away at Schneider Road.

We were told that the Viola Place connection – which would link the Brisbane Airport precinct to the Gateway Bridge Bikeway – was “in planning” back in 2014, and it has been listed in Council’s budget multiple times since then. Now we are told the issue is waiting for land acquisition (from a company 100% owned by Brisbane City Council) to be finalised.

Compare that to the project to widen Lytton Rd though East Brisbane, which was also in planning in 2014. Since then, planning has been finalised, dozens of homes acquired, and years worth of major infrastructure work to widen the road has been completed.
But Brenda and Digby are left in an unsatisfactory long-distance relationship. They’re begging Council to let them be together in time to go trick or treating at Halloween.

Walking the walk

While the messages from both Council and State Government on Monday were good, it seems it will still take a frustratingly long time to impact day-today decisions. After the Active Transport Advisory Committee meeting—which included a reminder from Queensland Walks about benefits of walking—it was pretty disappointing to sit in Council’s Infrastructure Committee the next morning and hear excuses about the removal of a CBD footpath; providing a suitable pedestrian path would disadvantage people accessing the city by car.

Back in 2017, Council spent around $2million of rate-payers funds “upgrading” the intersection of Ivory St and Boundary St in the CBD, as part of their program for “Projects Attacking Congestion”. That work included removing the footpath along the northern side of Boundary St, which is the most direct path from the top of Adelaide St and from Spring Hill towards the Story Bridge and to Howard Smith Wharves—including the new ferry terminal that will be built there soon. Council also removed the kerb ramps in an attempt to deter people crossing Boundary St near the intersection, and instead forcing them to take a detour including a driveway crossing, narrow footpath squeeze-point, and busy mid-block crossing with no pedestrian refuge.

This week, Council’s Infrastructure Committee voted to reject our third petition asking that they reinstate this footpath and provide a safe crossing point. Instead, their likely response to the people who continue to take this direct desire-line will be to erect a fence. (Perhaps they could also dig a moat and fill it with crocodiles??) They have no plans to upgrade the narrow footpath they deem a suitable detour.

Both Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner and Cr Ryan Murphy spoke positively about the benefits of public and active transport for tackling congestion in Council on Tuesday. But sadly the experience for people who walk, cycle, and take transit too often looks like this:

If you catch a ferry or bus to Kangaroo Point or East Brisbane, to cross Lytton Rd you need to hop across a chain of tiny concrete islands and wait, trapped between streams of traffic. These photos capture 11 adults, 3 kids in prams, and a small dog crowded together waiting for their turn to hop to the next concrete island. Out of frame: 3 more people walking, and four people on bikes who wound their way past without stopping, since there was absolutely no room for them. Just one errant driver would have spelled disaster—and this is a regular heavy vehicle route.

It’s time to remove uncontrolled slip lanes, provide pedestrian crossing on all arms of signalised intersections, and change signal timings to encourage rather than punish people who aren’t travelling by car.

Brisbane Metro and Victoria Bridge

Have you seen the latest fly-though of the Brisbane Metro project – including the dedicated cycleway across Victoria Bridge?? We had a productive meeting this week with Brisbane Move (the consortium of delivering the project) and Brisbane City Council, and look forward to being involved in upcoming design workshops to help ensure the best possible active transport connections.

One of the challenges for the Brisbane Metro project is to provide shade on the pedestrian walkway over Victoria Bridge. Council have indicated that they are looking into achieving this with a trellis structure.

It’s obviously not a simple matter to attach something with a significant wind loading onto a 50 year old concrete bridge that wasn’t designed for it. We’re all for additional shade that will encourage people to take healthy transport options, but we think the priority should be on new structures (like the new bridge to the Casino which is being built without shade), planting more trees, and looking after existing shade trees. It would also be good to see basic engineering feasibility assessments being performed before political promises are announced.

Hopefully shading the Victoria Bridge walkway will turn out to be feasible. If not, perhaps a business at each end handing out parasols for the walk across the bridge might be a more practical option??

There was good news and bad news for cycling on Victoria Bridge this week: The good news is that the bad news is temporary. The main deck of the bridge is now closed to cycle traffic, so you will need to take a detour to the upstream shared path if you want to ride across. Of course the really good news is that work on the permanent dedicated cycleway being delivered as part of the Brisbane Metro project has begun! This is scheduled to be completed in March (early or late in the month depending on who you speak to).

So, have patience for the next few weeks folks. This is going to be awesome when it’s open!

Congestion

According to this report from the ABC, concerns around COVID are driving down public transport patronage and driving up traffic congestion. With public transport networks expected to take years to recover, now is the perfect time to avoid congested commutes by leaving the car at home and opting for a bike ride. Congestion on the roads might be ‘alarming’, but Brisbane’s other arterial routes are flowing nicely….

One of the many great things about travelling by bike is that your commute time remains almost unaffected by the ‘alarming’ congestion. So get on your bike and encourage your friends to do the same!

And if your route to work is a bit rubbish, join us in lobbying to make it better. Now is also the perfect time for our council and state representatives to step up and accelerate delivery of an extensive and connected network of bikeways across Brisbane.

Speaking of congestion Council’s $115 million widening of Lytton/Wynnum Road through East Brisbane and Norman Park was supposed to “reduce travel time for all vehicles by up to 50 percent during peak periods” according to former Lord Mayor Graham Quirk. Looking at the traffic on Tuesday morning, that forecast didn’t seem to be going so well.

Here’s a not-so-radical idea: how about Brisbane City Council stop pouring public money into trying to “bust congestion” by widening roads, and instead prioritise making it safer, smoother, and shadier for people to walk, cycle or scoot instead?

School Zones

Let’s talk about congestion around schools… EaST BUG reports that there was a traffic crash outside Morningside State School just after 3pm on Friday afternoon – which is sadly not at all surprising. This type of scene is all too common:

Well done to all the little champions who walk, ride and scoot to school, despite conditions which can be mildly described as a horror show. Well done to the teachers and crossing monitors who have a mammoth battle trying to keep our community safe. It’s time to get serious about slower speeds, prioritising pedestrians, and reducing the number of cars past our schools – preferably to zero!! (Yes, the concept is called School Streets, and it has been proven to work!)

Parking on paths

Unfortunately, parking on footpaths or partially blocking paths is all too common in Brisbane. On the weekend, this car was parked all day with its rear end and tow-bar protruding into the Wynnum Rd shared path—which is used by hundreds of people cycling and scooting, and is also a busy footpath. Yes, it was possible to navigate around it without having to move onto the road—as long as only one person arrived at a time, and they weren’t on a trike or mobility scooter that struggles on the undulating surface. Council’s response when the issue was brought to their attention:

“An officer attended and located subject vehicle however it was assessed not to be in breach.”

Brisbane City Council

How much of the pathway needs to be blocked before Council judges that a vehicle is illegally parked? Rhetorically, if it was blocking half of a busy road like this—but cars could still get around when there was no oncoming traffic—would that be taken seriously??

Around the Suburbs

In Hawthorne: there will be upcoming disruptions at Hawthorne Park. Queensland Urban Utilities will be performing sewer infrastructure work along Hawthorne Road and Lindsay Street, Hawthorne, and constructing a new sewer pump station within Hawthorne Park near the existing toilet blocks off Hawthorne Road. The corner of Hawthorne Park between the cinema and toilet block will be closed while works take place, and there will also be trenching work along the northern boundary of the park and Oak Street.

EaST BUG are hoping to convince Brisbane City Council to co-ordinate with this work to ultimately improve the path from Hawthorne Rd near the cinema to Oak St. Currently this is only a narrow footpath, an doesn’t have a good transition. It’s a busy active travel route to the Hawthorne Ferry Terminal, and for many families on their way to school. We’ve also asked that the detour route be improved so it doesn’t involve two 90 degree turns and conflict with people entering or stepping out of a toilet cubicle!

You can register for project updates by emailing them on networks.community@fultonhogan.com.au

Image credit: Cr Lisa Atwood

In Cannon Hill, there was a promising announcement from Doboy Ward Councillor, Cr Lisa Atwood and Federal Member for Bonner, Ross Vasta MP:

🛴 We’re extending the Minnippi Bikeway 🚴
🚴🏽 Ross Vasta MP and I are teaming up to extend the bikeway from Wynnum Rd to Creek Rd behind the Cannon Hill Shopping Centre.

Cr Lisa Atwood

No details yet, but we’re hoping it includes a bridge over Bulimba Creek.; this will be a great addition to the area.

In East Brisbane, public consultation on the vision for Mowbray Park closed this week. Our suggestions included:

  • make it easier to cross Lytton Rd to get to the park. Currently the pedestrian crossings are slow, indirect, take an inordinate amount of time, and you are forced to wait on hot concrete islands without shade or shelter.
  • reduce the amount of park space taken up by tarmac and parked cars (other than disability parking). In particular, return the shady space nearest the river to green space that everyone can enjoy.
  • improve the cycleway crossing at Park Ave to make it safer, and give cycle commuters on this major route priority over vehicles turning in and out of the side street.

Nearby in Norman Park, residents held a well attended public meeting calling on Council to reinstate the cross river ferry service between Norman Park and New Farm. There’s a long way between river crossing locations on our side Brisbane, so Council’s snap decision to discontinue the Norman Park Ferry and decommission the terminal was a real blow. Saying “just ride to Mowbray Park or Hawthorne instead” ignores the terrible condition of the paths between those locations. If you’re travelling by bike you can’t take the bus either. A representative from the group Friends of Norman Park Ferry will be addressing Council’s meeting this week.

On a more positive note, it’s good to see banana bars continue to be removed across the city. Graceville has seen a lot of activity in recent weeks, with the river front paths from Strong Avenue to Graceville Memorial Park now being almost banana bar free.

In St Lucia, West BUG report that the new kerb ramp on Sandford Street, has been installed. A small change, but much appreciated but those heading towards UQ this way.

Over at Brisbane Airport, Airport BUG are happy to report that the long grass which was overhanging the bike path on Lomandra Drive has been mown. Thanks to everyone who contacted Brisbane Airport Corporation to get this done. The next task is to get the bike path extended to Sugarmill Road!

Off-road Cycling Strategy

Finally, if you like mountain biking, have a gravel bike and like to hit the dirt roads, or if BMX is your thing, you’ll want to check out Brisbane City Council’s draft off road cycling strategy. It’s open for consultation now, and at the moment, bike riders haven’t participated much. It’s really important you have your say.

Thanks to Bicycle Queensland who have summarised things in their facebook post. The survey closes on 28 February, so make sure you make your voice heard.