14 Nov 2021

Climate Crisis

As COP26 draws to a disappointing conclusion—with world leaders only grudgingly agreeing to targets that will at best condemn us to the effects of 2.4 degrees of global heating—here’s a reminder that leaving the car at home, and walking or cycling instead, is climate action we can take today. Whether you walk or ride all the way to your destination, or to connect with public transport for a longer trip, it’s something around 80% of Australians are already keen and able to do; if only they have safe routes to use. Best of all, there are a myriad of other benefits; stronger local economies, more inclusive communities, happier children, independent teenagers, healthier adults, supported seniors, and more productive employees. If we want to talk about electric vehicles, let’s talk about the fastest growing transport market: electric bikes and scooters. We already have a comprehensive network of charging stations in every home, garage, and business premise in the country.

Make no mistake; if your local politicians are stalling or actively opposing safe infrastructure for active transport, they are opposing climate action.

North Brisbane Bikeway: the opponents

Speaking of which: as Brisbane City Council seeks to complete the last missing section of the North Brisbane Bikeway (less than 1.5km) from Wooloowin through to the Kedron Brook Bikeway, this much needed connection is being opposed by three politicians: the local councillor, the sitting state member and the federal member for Brisbane.

These three politicians have jointly signed a letter mailed to their constituents calling for the bikeway not to proceed. Disappointingly they haven’t waited for the public consultation to be completed to consider community feedback on the bikeway. These men have not had any discussion with people who want to cycle through the area safely, or about ways to improve the design put forward by Council’s engineers. They have only spoken to residents who oppose the bikeway outright. It is a very disappointing position from experienced politicians who should know better.

If you support connecting the North Brisbane Bikeway through to Eagle Junction and the Kedron Brook Bikeway, please contact the three politicians and ask them to stop obstructing the bikeway and instead connect it ‘All the way to EJ’ as soon as possible. Copy us in on your letters and e-mails.

Most importantly, please go to Council’s project site and complete their survey in support of the bikeway so that your feedback is counted in Council’s official records of the consultation.

Write to

  • Tim Nicholls: Clayfield@parliament.qld.gov.au
  • Trevor Evans: Trevor.Evans.MP@aph.gov.au
  • David McLachlan: Hamilton.ward@bcc.qld.gov.au

Copy us in at

  • space4cyclingbne@gmail.com

Don’t believe the claims that these politicians support bikeways, but “just not this route”. Their past actions and attitudes demonstrate that simply isn’t true. You can catch up on some of the long history of alternative plans, consultation, and advocacy in relation to the North Brisbane Bikeway on our blog.

We don’t have the resources and reach of these well-paid politicians and their office staff, so we need your help to ensure this important connection in completed.

We want the politicians to hear from more people like Michael, who says riding his bicycle to work from Sandgate twice a week is a healthy choice, particularly in this time of Covid. He’s really hoping that the final connection in the bikeway to the CBD can be finished, making all of his ride safe.

Michael says he’s been delighted to see the North Brisbane Bikeway extend along Dickson Street to Price Street in Wooloowin, and he already rides along Jackson and Sydney streets in Clayfield. But the All the Way to EJ bikeway will safely connect those two parts of his ride. The 1.4 kilometre link is all that remains to be completed of what will be a 40 kilometre northern bikeway extending from the CBD to Redcliffe.

Bikeways are vote winners

Our “Three White Men” seem to have missed that lesson that safe, connected biekways are vote winners. “A persistent theme is that voters have time and again reelected the mayors responsible for ambitious road reclamations, often with overwhelming majorities. Although many presume these policies are toxic, projects that make cities more liveable have been shown to be good urban policy and good politics.”

That shouldn’t be a surprise. Riding a bicycle is an option available to almost everyone. Even if someone doesn’t ride very much, they probably have a bicycle, and would like to ride more, if only they felt safe. For some it’s the health benefits. For others it’s the environment, or saving money, or saving time. For many it’s all of the above. And when they see how friendlier streets improve their neighbourhoods and communities, they remember who opposed bikeways when it comes time to vote.

Fairfield Road

Here’s a project that won’t be getting any votes from us either: Upcoming construction work for the Cross River Rail Clapham Yards at Yeerongpilly will require closing the eastern footpath along Fairfield Rd between Chale St, and Sherwood Road.

Back in September we wrote to Cross River Rail and Brisbane City Council pointing out that the plan to divert path users (including cyclists who aren’t prepared to dice with trucks Fairfield Rd) to the western footpath was poorly considered. Not least because there are no kerb ramps at the Chale St crossing, and the western footpath is less than 60cm wide in places.

Cross River Rail Delivery Authority have written back washing their hands of the issue, saying it is Brisbane City Council’s problem, but aren’t they champions for reducing the speed limit from 70kph to 60kph. (Last we checked, getting run over by a truck travelling 60kph is likely to have the same outcome as getting run over by that same truck at 70kph.)

Meanwhile, for their part, Council have responded (thanks to Cr Nicole Johnston chasing it up):

“Transport Planning and Operations have been contacted and are seeking information from the Cross River Rail project on how they plan to cater for both cyclists and pedestrians during the construction work. Once we have this information we will inspect the area for any issues that may require installation of ramps or footpath upgrades.”

Brisbane City Council

We don’t know why Brisbane City Council are claiming not to be aware of the plans from Cross River Rail—they would have been consulted on them before we were, and would have to sign off on any detour option. It’s also farcical for them to suggest they have to wait for plans from Cross River Rail (which they’ve had for months) to inspect the area for suitability of the proposed detour. If they don’t believe us or Cr Johnston when we say THERE ARE NO CURB RAMPS AT THE CHALE ST INTERSECTION, AND THE CONDITION OF THE WESTERN FOOTPATH IS APALLING, perhaps they could just look at the photographs below:

We know Minister Mark Bailey MP is aware of the issue, and has written to Brisbane City Council about creating a proper cycleway along Fairfield Road. But the folk we speak to at Cross River Rail advise that Brisbane City Council insist the right-turn lanes are somehow still essential. We note that there are only a handful of businesses now operating along Fairfield Rd whose customers might turn right to access them. These include a car wreckers, smash repairer, and a funeral home. Upon reflection, perhaps these businesses would benefit from people turning right across Fairfield Rd…

We consider this a serious abrogation of responsibility by government authorities at both state and local level. We’ll add this to the list of items for consideration by the Active Transport Advisory Committee, but it’s easy to despair for any meaningful action.

There’s better news in the CBD where the year-long trial of Citylink is more than half way through, and it looks like the bikeways through central Brisbane are already a success and getting more popular every week.

Brisbane City Council’s Transport Committee heard this week that numbers have been trending upwards since the bikeways opened, and continue to increase steadily. The Elizabeth Street section has had 145,000 trips since it opened in January, with a peak of 1,000 per day. And the Victoria Bridge bikeway, only open since April, has already had 155,000 riders, with a daily peak of 1,500. About half of the traffic has been bicycles, including e-bikes, with the rest e-mobility devices, such as scooters, e-skateboards, etc.

Most of the 770 responses to Council’s survey on Citylink have been positive too, with cyclists, pedestrians and motorists all being happy with the design. Pedestrians said they were pleased to have scooters off the footpaths, while drivers said they were more comfortable on the road, and knew where to look.

We know we’re pleased with Citylink, and look forward to seeing it extended to connect more destinations safely.

If you haven’t had your say yet, please add your support for continuing and expanding the network of protected lanes for bikes and e-scooters in the CBD.

Toowong to the University of Queensland

We were delighted to see Maiwar MP, Michael Berkman take to social media to encourage constructive community discussion about the relative merits of options for improving cycling access between Toowong and the University of Queensland. Some others could learn from this example!

Our position: we support (and have petitioned for) Option 3 in the short term, and Option 1 in addition in the longer term. We encourage everyone affected to engage (respectfully) in the discussion.

Detours on the North Brisbane Bikeway

Ooh look what was ‘open’ on Tuesday evening: the section of the North Brisbane Bikeway at Bowen Hills between O’Connell Tce and Campbell St. The gradient of the new path is much kinder (but still a non-trivial climb), and a big improvement. It’s a shame about the tricky chicane at the bottom though; it seems someone thought it safer for cyclists to cross Campbell St if they are forced through an awkward manoeuvre to get on and off the road.

We weren’t sure if the path was officially open, or if someone just got completely fed up with the barriers, and reclaimed it as a public thoroughfare. It didn’t take long for people to find it!

Sadly, the barriers were back and ‘secured’ with cable-ties again by Wednesday afternoon.

Here’s a better outcome for people on bikes: Thanks to the advocacy of Bicycle Queensland, ‘cyclists dismount’ signs no longer feature in the traffic management plans for upcoming water mains work on the North Brisbane Bikeway along Bridge St Wooloowin. The original plan (as pictured) had people dismounting to get past the work zone. The revised plan will have temporary ramps to allow people to ride around the works. The works are scheduled for the 15th November 2021 to 30th November 2021.

(The picture above is from when the bikeway counter was working. And no, we don’t know why they didn’t install a pedestrian sensor but still included the pedestrian count on the display.)

Beams Rd Upgrade

In an effort to improve outcomes for active transport users, Brisbane North BUG, Bicycle Queensland and Queensland Walks have combined resources to give Brisbane City Council feedback on their proposed upgrade of Beams Rd. Not to be confused with the state governments project to remove the level crossing at the railway.

The area around Beams Rd has the Cabbage Tree Creek bikeway, a number of existing schools and another on the way, not to mention the development around the old QUT site at Carseldine. So it’s very important that when these upgrades happen that they enable active transport options and allow for the future growth.

We’re excited to read that it will include a new underpass at Cabbage Tree Creek to improve safety and access for pedestrians and cyclists. According to the plan, “this underpass will connect directly into the Cabbage Tree Creek bikeway with new lighting and planting throughout, including extensive use of native plants”. We’re sad about the impact the road widening will inevitably have on the existing native trees though.

Other News

Paris will be hosting the next Summer Olympics in 2024. Will Brisbane follow their lead in becoming a cycling city in time for 2032?

It is inspiring to see the progress the French capital has made in just a few years by prioritising active transport and space for people ahead of cars. Their plan for the next five years is to fill in the gaps and make Paris a “100 percent cycling city.”

It can be done, and it can be done quite quickly, as demonstrated in Paris. It is simply a matter of setting priorities and finding the political will!

Closer to home, we are delighted to see that Brisbane State High School is expanding its Green Transport Hub. How wonderful to see a school community that is promoting the health, safety, environmental and social benefits of cycling and scooting to school. Let’s hope governments come to the party by expanding safe infrastructure. We encourage you to buy a raffle ticket, although we think it’s a bit odd that the first prize is a car – maybe you can trade it in for an e-bike if you win?

Finally, here’s a useful reminder that electric cars remove one or two of the problems with motor vehicles, while bicycles solve almost all of them.