It was another busy week in cycling advocacy, with only 2 weeks left until the Council election. But first, thanks to everyone for coming along to the Brisbane Bicycle Film Festival on Saturday, and helping to make it such a fun and inspiring evening. From the Brisbane Style Over Speed ride, to the incredible energy of The cycOZ, to the fabulous exhibitors at the cargo bike expo: Epic Cycles, Cycling Without Age – Sunshine Coast, Dutch Cargo Bikes, Earthcycles Brisbane, Krankie Cycles, Renee (a.k.a Fit Aussie Sista) and the other individuals who brought their bikes along.
Thanks to Minister Mark Bailey MP for being such a great supporter of our events every year, and to Cr James Mackay for his support and for joining the fun (and some great handshake-alternative improvisation). Thanks to everyone who bought raffle tickets, and to our raffle prize sponsors Anvet Kedron Veterinary Surgery, Cafe on the Goodwill Bridge, cycle2city, Bicycle Queensland, CityCycle, and UQ Sustainability Office, and also to the Schonell Cinema team.
Congratulations and thank you to everyone who submitted a short film – what an entertaining, thought-provoking, and fun set of films we were proud to show as finalists. (Thanks again to Epic Cycles for sponsoring the prizes). Thanks to Liz Canning and everyone behind the movie Motherload.
We’re inspired to ride and to keep working hard to make things better to give more people the opportunity to cycle too. Keep active, keep healthy, keep being kind!
(For more on the film festival: check out Belinda’s interview in The Creative Issue. You may also have heard Chris talking it up on ABC Radio Brisbane on Thursday.)
On the Council election trail
Did you see us mentioned in your local Quest Community Newspapers this week talking about key issues from the March 28 Brisbane City Council election? This is from the Northside Chronicle:
Even the RACQ are calling for a further investment of $100 million for better bikeways (although we’d prefer the goal was about delivering measurable outcomes, rather than just spending from a bucket). Good on Bob Dow from Rail Back On Track for highlighting the need for better walking and cycling access to local facilities – particularly public transport stations.
We’re still advocating the same key priorities: build a connected grid of protected bikeways in our city’s primary commercial, retail and employment centre; fix the weak link in the connection from the Bicentennial Bikeway to the Centenary Cycleway along Sylvan Rd; and create the desperately needed east-west connection on the inner south with a safe protected bikeway along Vulture St. Of course there are many other improvements and connections needed for the suburbs too, but the one single change that could bring us in line with liveable cities around the world is dropping the speed limit on neighbourhood streets to 30kph.
We had some exciting news for people who ride on Kedron Brook Rd, which is an important north-south connector in Enoggera Ward: Andrew and Stephen from Brisbane North BUG met with Cr Andrew Wines to talk about cycling in the Enoggera Ward. During the meeting Cr Wines let then know that a future LNP council plans to invest $2m to improve the north-south transit link from Kedron Brook Rd through to Noble St. This would also include some street landscaping and related works in the Wilston Village area.
They also discussed the Queensland Rail bridge at Frederick St Alderley (which has now been closed) and some long term options for that area.
Big kudos as well to Cr Wines for taking on the challenge of riding up Kedron Brook Rd! While electric bikes make pedaling up hills a lot easier, they don’t make the feeling of being squeezed by motor-vehicle traffic any more comfortable. We need good paths and good connections to make cycling a realistic option for all those people who like the idea of active transport, but not the idea of sharing the road with cars, buses and trucks!
On Wednesday, Belinda lent a bike to LNP candidate for Morningside, Toby Moore for a ride around the ward. Along the way they discussed some of the challenges for an area which is quite close to the CBD (within 5km) but doesn’t have a good cycling connections to the city; people have already told Toby they take the ferry across the river to ride on the paths on the north side!
Their ride took Toby and Belinda past Morningside Station, where the bike rack was full, providing a good illustration of how bike parking takes up very little space, and is very cheap compared to car parking which typically costs $50,000 or more per additional space. Although parking at stations is a state government responsibility, creating better connections so it’s easier for people to get there on foot and by bike is where council can make a big difference.
At the entrance to Colmslie Recreation Reserve, overnight rain had left the usual big puddles to ride through, and Toby could immediately see the problem with the crossing as they waited in the centre cage on Lytton Rd. Toby and Belinda agreed that it would be great to have a river-side route along the southern bank, and checked out some of the opportunities for making connections.
Well done to Toby for venturing out on some pretty busy roads – including Lytton Rd, Junction Rd, and Riding Rd. He even got the full on-road experience with a couple of close-passes from impatient drivers on Richmond Rd!
Later, at a candidates forum in West End, Belinda caught up with Karagh-Mae Kelly, who is running for Lord Mayor, representing the Animal Justice Party. Karagh-Mae’s top priority is for Brisbane City Council to declare a climate and ecological emergency and develop an action plan to reverse our impact and help us prepare for what’s coming.
Belinda asked Karagh-Mae her position on 30kph speed limits for neighbourhood streets – which is becoming the standard in liveable cities around the world, but which is still seen by many as a step too far for Brisbane. It was great to hear support from this Lord Mayoral candidate for 30kph speeds.
Cycling around our city it’s sad to see evidence of how many animals are struck and killed by cars; both native animals (possums, bats, birds, reptiles, etc), but also escaped family pets. Karagh-Mae pointed out that Brisbane only has one animal ambulance, and community rescue groups receive very little funding. That means if you find an animal in distress, there can be a very long wait before a carer can come to help.
Karagh-Mae runs a small business in West End, and is all in favour of closing Boundary St to through-traffic to turn it back into the vibrant prosperous friendly local hub it could be if it wasn’t so full of cars.
Remember: preferential voting means you can vote for an independent or minor party candidate and still ensure your vote counts to the final result. There are 9 candidates on the ballot paper for Lord Mayor this year, so numbering all the boxes is not hard!
Speaking of independent candidates, Brett Gillespie stood as an LNP candidate four years ago, but became frustrated with the party-political nature of local government Brisbane; he wants the focus back on local communities and getting things done, so this time he’s running as an independent candidate for Moorooka. Belinda caught up with Brett on Thursday for a ride around Annerley, Moorooka, Salisbury and Rocklea. Brett has been involved with the Active School Travel program at his kids’ school, and is very aware of how important it is to have safe road crossings to make it feasible for families to walk and ride.
Usually our rides with candidates are carefully mapped in advance, but since Brett is a regular commuter cyclist, today we made the route up as we went along. Our discussion between two experienced adult cyclists on how to head south from Annerley but avoid riding on Ipswich Rd sadly sums up the situation in many Brisbane suburbs. (Spoiler: we chose the footpath. It’s woeful.)
We found plenty of neglected footpaths and roads on our tour, but also checked out some handy existing bike paths – which would be even better if they connected! We watched a woman carry her bike up and down the stairs at Rocklea Station, and noted how skinny the footpath is between there and the Brisbane Markets. As we struggled to cross Muriel Ave, we reflected on how difficult that would be with children, or for older people. Thanks Brett for a fun ride, and for some good tips on where to find the best coffee!
Around the same time, Chris met Labor’s candidate for Paddington, Jeff Eelkema, for a ride around Milton, Auchenflower and Toowong to get a feel for the good, the bad and the indifferent in the southern part of Paddington Ward.
Under the watchful gaze of the Queensland Rugby League Legends, they made their way from Suncorp Stadium via Cribb Street to the Bicentennial Bikeway. The former Drift restaurant was a topic of discussion. With work underway to clean up and open a new restaurant there, Chris pointed out that the Bicentennial Bikeway is now much more heavily used than it was before the 2011 floods, so managing people walking to and from the restaurant across the bikeway needs to be considered. The idea floated in the media about a 500m long marina along that stretch of the river is a red flag for us.
Jeff and Chris then checked out Sylvan Road, which Jeff is very aware of as it was a key issue when he ran as Paddington candidate in 2016. Jeff has some great suggestions that could work to create a slower, active transport focused environment to better cater for the 2,000 or so cyclists who pass through every day between the Centenary Cycleway and Bicentennial.
They also stopped by Auchenflower station which is set for an upgrade, and Jeff’s Dutch background showed as he enthusiastically talked about encouraging people to ride to the station.
As they passed the many empty shops on Park Road, Chris and Jeff discussed the challenge of how to sustain thriving local business while also treating the road as a major thoroughfare, before making their way back to the stadium as the heavens opened!
Then on the weeked, Chris met Greens candidate Thomas McKie for a ride around Jamboree Ward. Thomas is one of a growing number of young people who just don’t bother getting a drivers licence. Living in Oxley, Thomas relies on public transport, ride share and lifts, and the local services available in walking distance.
Borrowing an ebike, the group left from Jindalee and used the river front shared path to Rocks Riverside Park. Chris raised the potential value of extending the path to link to Oxley, connecting the Oxley and Jindalee communities with off road, all ages and abilities cycling facilities. From there they went through Edenbrooke and Ashridge Road parks, arriving at Darra Station. Chris demonstrated the bike enclosure, complete with water bottle filler. Then they returned to the start via the Darra Station Link bikeway built in 2015, and the Centenary Cycleway.
It was encouraging that this 15km loop can be completed almost entirely off road, but some of the road crossings are intimidating, and some links to reach those quality facilities are missing or inadequate. It highlights the importance of local councillors advocating for small local improvements to encourage more people onto bikes – especially as more young people don’t want to drive a car.
LNP candidate for Deagon, Kimberley Washington, is no stranger to cycling, having competed in triathlons in the past. She joined Andrew from Brisbane North BUG for a ride on the weekend, but there was definitely no racing involved this time. Instead they talked about how local businesses can benefit from improving connectivity – especially connecting the very popular Sandgate foreshore with other areas. No ride in Brisbane is complete with going through sets of banana bars, but thankfully those are slowly being replaced. Also on the ride Andrew and Kimberley discussed the importance of safe infrastructure so that school kids and their families can feel safe riding to school.
Also on the weekend, Donald from Brisbane CBD BUG was joined by Trina Massey, Greens candidate for Central Ward for the second of two rides around the ward. Taking off from Howard Smith Wharves they made their way along the river, up Alice St, along the Bicentennial Bikeway and into Victoria Park. Trina has ridden in the past as her primary mode of transport, and is well aware of many issues and very open to the possibilities that exist to make the Central Ward a more welcoming place to get about on bike.
Finally, spare a thought for Sally Dillon, Greens candidate for Coorparoo who took a tumble off her bike last weekend, and now has two broken arms. Sally was cycling between campaign appointments on Saturday evening, decided that the fast traffic on Main St, Kangaroo Point didn’t feel safe, so opted to ride on the footpath instead – where she hit sharp bump, locking up her front wheel and …. from the result it looks like she supermanned over the handlebars.
Crashes like Sally’s get recorded in official statistics (if they get recorded at all) as a single vehicle crash, which doesn’t tell the full story: many of our footpaths are in terrible condition, with big lumps and lips at every side road and driveway. We need better footpaths, but we also need better separated facilities so that people on bikes (and scooters) don’t have to choose between the footpath or mixing with fast motor vehicle traffic on the road. We need connected cycleways, protected space on main roads, and slower neighbourhood streets. To get there, we need representatives in council who are passionate about making active transport better – although we don’t expect them to go to these type of extreme lengths! Get well soon Sally.
In other news
Brisbane received a lot of rain at the start of the week, but we had good reports from Brisbane North BUG riders about how the new section of the North Brisbane Bikeway performs when it’s wet:
It was a great feeling riding safely in the rain along the new bikeway without having to worry about cars and trucks!
All the coatings are grippy and the whole segregated bikeway feeling was about as good as riding in the rain gets.
There was just a small amount of pooled water on Mawarra St where leaf matter was blocking drainage. Unfortunately though, with the king tide, the path under the Inner City Bypass was inundated, requiring some cross-country pushing or water riding.
Further towards the CBD, things were a little slippery on Monday morning though. Forget the great toilet paper crisis; on Sunday a parade was held in the CBD to commemorate the 160th anniversary of the establishment of the Queensland Defence Force. Unfortunately, on their way there/home the horses left a slippery mess on the North Brisbane Bikeway path behind the Grammar schools.
This was the second similar occurrence in as many weeks, despite the road rule which states “A person in charge of an animal must not allow its droppings (on a road) to cause a problem for other road users. The driver or rider is responsible for removing any droppings that fall on the road.” (This is not a road, but it is a well used path). Thanks to the riders who contacted Brisbane City Council who acted very promptly to clean up.
Back in October last year – and even before that – we highlighted to Council that the raised bases for the bollards on the path at Howard Smith Wharves are a trip hazard, and could cause a person on a bike or scooter to fall if they catch their wheel because their attention is on pedestrians and other path users instead of watching for these ground-level hazards. We’re now very happy to see work being performed to make the bases flush with the ground. Hopefully it didn’t take someone to fall and get seriously hurt to motivate this belated action.
Of course that doesn’t deal with the issue that Council should have never permitted the development in its current form at Howard Smith Wharves, where bars, commercial vehicles, and private function space have taken over the primary walking and cycling access between the CBD and the inner suburbs. Small changes now are tinkering at the edges of a complete planning failure.
There is a petition from a New Farm resident for the riverwalk to be extended around the front of the wharves to bypass the mess and give river access back to the people of Brisbane. We don’t necessarily think that’s the correct solution, and don’t support any more public money being used to rectify this planning disaster; that should be between Brisbane City Council and the developer to resolve, and to ensure similar poor planning decisions are not repeated. However, your signature might help reinforce the message, and help Brisbane City Council find their spine.
Build bikeways, not roads
Here’s your regular reminder that building more roads—or expanding existing ones—is foolish. A fun fact: even when cities build roads at a faster clip than population growth, congestion still gets worse
As we head to the March 28 election, the question is: has the administration that spent the best part of a billion dollars widening Kingsford Smith Drive and Lytton Road learned their lesson? (Yes, we got a good bikeway from the KSD project, and an additional few hundred metres along on Lytton Rd, but next time can we have the bikeway without the waste?)