16 August 2020

State Election

On the election campaign this week, Lisa O’Donnell, Labor’s candidate for Chatsworth joined Belinda for a bike ride around Carindale, Carina, and Carina Heights. Belinda chose the upright bikes for this ride to illustrate that cycling isn’t all about sporty bikes for long commutes; it can be a comfortable, casual and easy way to get to local facilities and to connect with public transport, as well as to get some gentle exercise or socialise with friends and family. Lisa immediately looked right at home on “Polly”.

LisaO3They did a loop around the Creek Rd / Old Cleveland Rd intersection to check out the section of Old Cleveland Rd that is due to be upgraded as part of the state government’s eastern transitway project. Stopping by the memorial bike a little further up the road was a reminder of why it’s so important to get this right.

Crossing Old Cleveland Rd at Gallipolli Rd (where there’s time for a drink and a cut lunch while waiting for the lights) and riding through the Carindale Shopping Centre precinct in search of the bike parking provided a couple of illustrations of how poorly cycling and walking is often catered for. The default assumption in planning is that everyone will drive, and that becomes self-fulfilling.

At the other end of the scale, cruising along the Bulimba Creek Bikeway was a chance to chat about all the great things about cycling, including for physical health, mental health, sense of community, support for local business, jobs, and the environment.

RogerHooper

On Sunday, Chris took Roger Hooper, the LNP candidate for Mount Ommaney for a ride around the Centenary suburbs to highlight the value of cycling as a healthy travel option and an effective strategy for “busting congestion”. Chris pointed out that 35% of all car trips in Greater Brisbane are less than 4km, so making it safe, easy and convenient to swap some of those from car to bike can play a significant role in reducing congestion, as well as boosting public health and well-being through more activity. The recent jump in numbers of people cycling and walking during the COVID shut-down has highlighted how valuable infrastructure like the Centenary Bikeway is, but also that more needs to be done to provide quality connections from residential areas.

RogerHooperRideAs they waited to cross the busy Seventeen Mile Rocks Road roundabout at Jennifer Street, Chris pointed out that roundabout design is really important to ensure people feel safe and welcome when they choose to walk or cycle, and are not treated as an impediment to motor vehicle traffic “flow”.

Since the LNP recently committed to duplicating the Jindalee Bridge if in government, Chris and Roger checked out the narrow shared path across the existing bridge. Seeing cyclists awkwardly passing in opposite directions highlighted just how inadequate the facility is at the moment, and how improving the bikeway can increase the return on investment from the project. It’s important to realise that the bridge itself won’t solve everything though; interchanges like Dandenong Road and Seventeen Mile Rocks leave plenty of room for improvement for all road users.

Who ate all the pie?

Information released by the Queensland Government this week put their $23 billion transport infrastructure investment (2019-20 to 2022-23) into perspective: planned investment in cycling infrastructure is less than 1% of the total, or around 1.2% of that spent on roads.

PieChart

What is a public right?

On Saturday, for the second time in two weeks, Queensland Police closed both footways across the Story Bridge for most of the day. This was in response to a community protest which had planned to block motor vehicle access across the bridge, forcing drivers to take a short detour to the CLEM7 tunnel or Captain Cook Bridge to get across the river. Action on the bridge had already been called off by community organisers after the Supreme Court ruled it would be “an interference with public rights”.

Anyone wanting to walk (or ride a scooter) to the other side of the river on Saturday faced the prospect of a 3km detour in the rain. You could still have cycled across the Story Bridge – it is legal to ride a bicycle on a public road other than a motorway – but you’d have to be keen; experience says don’t expect support from ‘law enforcement’ if you are harassed, threatened or injured by someone in a motor vehicle.

It’s clear where the priorities lie in Brisbane. At all levels of government, “rights” only seem to apply when you are ensconced in a car.

City Reach Waterfront Master Plan

CityReach1On Tuesday, Council’s committee responsible for City Planning heard a presentation on the City Reach Waterfront Master Plan – which was published that morning following a consultation period last year. One of the key issues raised during public consultation was connectivity, and concerns about the proposal for shared space along the riverfront. No-one wants to see a repeat of the fiasco at Howard Smith Wharves.

In response, the updated masterplan stresses the importance of the riverfront as a place to linger, not just for through movement. That’s not unreasonable; there should be no-need for “fast” cycle movements through this area, and the riverfront space should be available for everyone to enjoy (without having to buy a drink at the bar). But our issue is when through movement becomes totally impeded, and unsafe at any speed, as happens regularly through the poorly designed Howard Smith Wharves, or along the South Bank Promenade at busy times.

It does seem inconsistent that the proposed promenade has been reduced from 8m wide in the draft master plan to 6m wide in the latest version.

We think a solution which provides an obvious indication of the importance of through movement (at a leisurely pace) can work if it is delivered in conjunction with safe separated cycleways on city streets – including Eagle St and Queen St – which people can use to get where they need to go.

BridgeLanding2Another detail which caught our attention in the City Reach Waterfront Master Plan was the illustration including the planned CBD to Kangaroo Point Bridge. We’re curious about the alignment. We know there are issues to work around at the city landing – including a heritage wall, established trees, a carpark entry, and clearance over the new Botanic Gardens Riverwalk and River Hub. But the diagram has us wondering: has an alternative alignment (shown here in yellow) landing at the end of Margaret St (rather than Alice St) been considered?

Slow learners at UQ

Back in 2014, Brisbane City Council and the University of Queensland “upgraded” the intersection of Sir Fred Schonell Drive and Coldridge St in St Lucia, replacing a small roundabout with traffic signals and expanding Sir Fred Schonell Drive to four lanes through the intersection. At the time they claimed it would “provide a safer road environment and enhance traffic flow through this busy thoroughfare.”

Now Council plans to enlarge the intersection again, in a project funded under the Australian Government’s Black Spot program. It turns out that since 2013, there have been 15 crashes, with 8 hospitalisations, in this location. We believe this should have been a foreseeable consequence of adding lanes and encouraging faster through traffic, and it’s absurd to think that the solution is to add yet more lanes.

SemperFloreat

Instead, we’re asking Council to look at making the intersection more convenient for pedestrians, and to consider upgrading Sir Fred Schonell Drive for walking and cycling to encourage active transport to the University of Queensland ahead of private motor vehicle use. Please consider adding your name to the petition.

Indeed, check out this extract from UQ’s newspaper Semper Floreat in 1990, highlighting the need for protected bike lanes on Sir Fred Schonell Drive. It’s 30 years overdue!

Council should review Sir Fred Schonell Drive with a view to installing protected bike lanes and improving the footpaths rather than widening the intersection at Coldridge St.

Protected bike lanes are proven to work in making conditions safer and enticing people to swap to cycling instead of driving. Adding lanes to intersections does the opposite!

Around the suburbs

It’s hard to overstate the difference good, separated cycling infrastructure makes. We knew the Veloway Stage E would be popular with commuters because it saves a chunk of time, and bypasses a number of dangerous conflict points. But even we were surprised to see how many older people, families with young kids, and obviously new riders have taken to the path since it opened.

We’re really hoping for news soon about the last on-road section along Worrell St (which is not a big issue for a confident adult rider, but can be a show-stopper if you’re riding with kids), and O’Keefe St where the Carl St crossing is quite nasty.

CourierMailAdMeanwhile, over on the north side, Rod is so concerned about the dangers to people cycling on Nudgee Rd that he paid for an advertisement in the Courier Mail to promote his petition asking Council to do something about it. We’ve heard on the grapevine that Rod doesn’t ride himself, but his son does, and Rod hates the thought that anyone using a bike to get to work (or wherever else they need to be) could be injured or killed. Please jump on and add your name to Rod’s petition. Great work Rod—which shouldn’t be necessary!

Over in East Brisbane, Belinda can confirm that in the interminable time it takes to cross Lytton Rd at Heath St it is possible to get yourself and your possessions thoroughly soaked. Council spent $130 million to save a few seconds for people in cars, but doesn’t consider your time valuable if you’re walking, cycling, or trying to reach public transport!

GetWet

Just up the road, we’re happy to report that the new section of concrete shared path along Wynnum Road near the Norman Park ferry terminal is 3.0m wide, rather than the totally unsatisfactory 2.5m section just beyond, or the 2.0m wide section leading on to Canning Bridge.

AustRoads standards recommend that a major cycle route like this be separated from pedestrian traffic completely, but unfortunately no-one in Council seems interested. On the brighter side, at 3.0m, there will at least be room for overtaking when someone is approaching in the opposite direction.

In Other News

E-bikes are an increasingly common sight on roads and bikeways across Brisbane, and for good reason. E-bikes can overcome many of the common barriers to cycling for transport in Brisbane: concerns that it’s too hot, or it’s too hilly, or it’s too far, or “I have too much to carry”. Even with the assistance of an electric motor, e-bike riders are still getting physical activity and getting the benefits of active transport.

For more and more families, e-bikes are replacing the second car, or in some cases, multiple e-bikes are replacing all cars. Far from “cheating“, they are winning in making our city streets healthier, safer and more efficient by leaving their car at home.

This article from the US argues that it’s time to re-purpose road space to allow a “third lane” for human scale transport like bicycles and e-scooters. It’s a frustratingly familiar sight across Brisbane to see two traffic lanes flanked by two parking lanes, and narrow footpaths for everybody else. Only those who can afford a car are catered for.

Unlocking that “third lane” would not only make it easier and safer for people to travel by leaving their car at home, it boosts business, widens job opportunities and enables a more equitable transport environment. The CBD is an ideal place to start Brisbane’s “third lane prioritisation”, and we’re itching to see it get started.