The are just 10 weeks to go now until the Brisbane City Council election on March 28, which will set the direction for our city for the next 4 years. We’re determined to ensure healthy transport is high on the agenda.
The latest council candidate to take up our invitation for a bike ride was Labor’s Trent McTiernan for Macgregor, who joined Belinda on Sunday morning on a borrowed bike for a 17km roll around Upper Mount Gravatt, Macgregor, Eight Mile Plains and Wishart. Trent hasn’t really ridden a bike since he was a kid, but he proved the old adage; you never forget.
We checked out some of the Veloway connections and the Bulimba Creek Bikeway, as well as a variety of local links, roads, and footpaths. We rode through the wet grass along Miles Platting Rd to look at the complete lack of infrastructure between Rochedale and Eight Mile Plains, and cycled around the huge park and ride facility at the bus station. We discussed how trying to solve one issue by building more and more car parking spaces tends to create a host of other problems.
One of Trent’s goals if he is elected is for Council to do more to support small community groups and sporting clubs to help build social connections. We talked about how making it easier for people to travel by bike can help strengthen local networks in addition to the obvious benefits of enabling people to be more active and to get around without always defaulting to driving.
Four years ago, hundreds of people joined us in writing to then Lord Mayor Graham Quirk seeking support for a grid of protected bikelanes in the CBD. We highlighted this as our top priority to all candidates in the lead up to the 2016 election, and following that election, we presented the current council administration with a petition with almost 3,000 signatories calling for safe CBD bikelanes.
We’re very pleased that Patrick Condren and the Labor for Brisbane City Council team are promoting this as one of their signature policies going in to the election on March 28.
We hope that when the LNP team announce their active transport policy, they will also commit to improving the Brisbane CBD by encouraging less reliance on private cars, enabling people to move safely and conveniently by bike or scooter, and improving the experience for people walking.
No matter where you sit on the political spectrum, safe bike lanes make sense!
If we are serious about dealing with the air pollution filling urban children’s lungs, as well as tackling the climate crisis, driving into the city “should feel as antisocial as smoking on the bus”. But if you want people to drive less then you have to organise society in a way that makes that workable. Check out this great article from the Guardian in the UK about the future of cities, and the responsibility of governments to provide leadership.
Brisbane City Council’s Metro project has been in the news this week, following criticism from Labor. While the merits can be debated, one aspect that really shouldn’t be in doubt is the value of converting the Victoria Bridge into a “green” bridge, taking public and active transport only.
Unfortunately, there are the usual predictions of “carmageddon” at the suggestion of removing motor vehicles. Obviously, those cars are going to flood other nearby routes, right?? Well, actually no.
While we’re all familiar with the phenomenon of “induced demand“, where a new or wider road attracts more people to drive on it and invariably leads to a return of congestion, the opposite effect is also true. “Traffic evaporation” happens when a road is closed. Rather than just dispersing on to other routes and increasing congestion there, the traffic, as the name suggests, evaporates. People change their travel times and modes, and seek alternatives instead. A great example of this was the Alaska Viaduct in Seattle. It carried 90,000 cars a day and was demolished. The traffic simply disappeared. By comparison, the 9,000 cars a day that use the Victoria Bridge is small, and at a time when we should be reducing car use in our CBD, this element of the Metro plan should be backed as one of the best congestion busting plans so far.
While we’re in the CBD, it might sound like a small thing, but getting in and out of the City Botanic Gardens after hours takes skill. Brisbane City Council closes the main gates after 6pm at night, with people on bikes directed through the narrow pedestrian gates. While you can still ride through, it is not comfortable, and there’s a high risk of colliding with someone walking or riding in the opposite direction. They can be obscured behind the pillar as you approach. CBD BUG have this week written to Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner requesting that the main gates no longer be closed.
Around the suburbs
Plans for the Albion Exchange development at Albion Station were approved by Council this week. We’ve noticed two slight cycling-related improvements in the final conditions:
1) The shared path on the southern side (along the Albion Overpass) is required to be a minimum of 4.2m wide. Unfortunately that still rules out a future separated east-west connection on this supposed principal cycle route – which would require a minimum 3.0m cycleway and 1.5m footpath.
2) Where the pathway from Corunna St (south of the Albion Overpass) terminates in the building stairwell (2 levels below the podium plaza), there will be a “bicycle wheel ramp to stair”. Although bicycle wheel ramps are useful on straight flights of stairs, it’s not clear how helpful it will be here. It’s still infuriating that existing path, providing a ground level connection to Albion Rd (and a chance to bypass the deadly Hudson Rd / Albion Overpass intersection) will be demolished.
Our fundamental issue with this development remains: this should have been the perfect opportunity to provide a rideable east-west link across the railway line, connecting Sandgate Rd to the North Brisbane Bikeway. That route is identified in the Principal Cycle Network Plan agreed by both the Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council. Not making that link a condition of this “transit-oriented development” is a planning failure, as we wrote last year in our blog post “SNAFU at Albion Exchange“.
On a brighter note, progress on the nearby North Brisbane Bikeway is looking good. Despite the rain this week, new concrete was still being laid as construction rolls on from Chalk St to Rigby St, Wooloowin. And look! Fraser Street is now a cul-de-sac!
Across on the opposite side of town, a group of Griffith University students are campaigning for a safety upgrade to the path connecting Griffith University’s Nathan Campus and the Mount Gravatt Campus – known as the Intercampus Link. The pathway is on land owned by Brisbane City Council, although passes underneath the South East Freeway. It also connects to the V1 Veloway, enabling students to ride to either of the campuses – which we obviously think should be encouraged. The lights in the underpass have not worked for years, and the whole path feels quite isolated and intimidating even during daylight, but far worse at night.
The group Secure the Intercampus Link – Keep Griffith Students Safe are asking for safe and secure lighting, CCTV and emergency checkpoints along the path. We’d also like to see the path widened and improved (but in a way that is sensitive to the flora and fauna). This is a project likely to require cooperation between Griffith University (hopefully with funding support from the federal government), TMR (state government) and Brisbane City Council. We hope all candidates for Moorooka and Holland Park Wards can get behind it.
Speaking of the Veloway, we had a heads-up for people who use it south of Gaza Road: expect changes coming up to accommodate construction work next to the Gaza Rd off-ramp. TMR notified us that from early 2020, for approximately 2 months there will be a temporary diversion of the bikeway there for about 100m. We have been told that the diversion will be clearly signed and delineated and additional lighting will be installed as required. However cyclists may occasionally be asked to dismount and walk short distances. We’re asking people to please be patient and considerate of the construction workers and other cyclists. Work seems to be progressing really well on Stage E, and soon we will have access to excellent infrastructure!
Update: By the weekend, we were able to confirm that the detour was in place and working well. A couple of other construction projects around the city could learn a thing or two from this about how to manage works so that cycle traffic still has safe passage!
We finally had some substantial rain this week, which was very welcome. However heavy rain does create some flooding issues on the local bikeways. EaST BUG reported that the underpass beneath the railway line between Morley St and Gladstone St, Coorparoo flooded substantially in the rain storm before Christmas; the water level rose to a height of 1.1m according to the marks on the wall. Unlike many other bikeways around Brisbane, this path doesn’t have a flood height indicator, so we’ve written to Councillor Fiona Cunningham via the Coorparoo Ward office asking for help to address this, and also to fix the light at the entry from Gladstone St, which is not working.
We’ve also asked that cleanup here can be listed as a priority after storms, as it seems to get forgotten. And yes, we’ve also asked for removal of the nearby banana bar hazards, and for lighting on the adjoining pathways, including to Barnes Ave, Coorparoo Station and Coorparoo Common.
Speaking of Coorparoo Common, a couple of local riders are campaigning for a BMX track the near the skate park. Please help the kids (and a few big kids) by adding your signature. While exploring the bikeways on Brisbane’s north side over the Christmas break, Belinda kept coming across BMX parks; it felt like they were in every suburb. But we don’t have anything in the inner eastern suburbs. (There is a great facility at Wynnum West run by Bayside BMX Club. but that’s a loong way from East Brisbane and Coorparoo). It’s good to have support from Councillor Kara Cook (Morningside Ward) and Matt Campbell, Labor’s candidate for Coorparoo.
Further east again, EaST BUG also report: On the Bulimba Creek Bikeway, we noticed some pavement markings which we hope indicate that sections of the badly cracked path will be replaced along Stanton Rd West, Tingalpa and through Minnippi Parklands. There have been some temporary patches made to the bitumen section along Stanton Rd West, but the cracks are so wide the patching material has mostly just slipped through!
In Minnippi Parklands some of the markings seem to indicate that the new bikeway sections will be 3.0m wide, but others suggest they may only be 2.4m. We’ve written to Cr Lisa Atwood via the Doboy Ward office asking if she can request that all new sections be 3.0m wide, as this is really the minimum width to allow two people walking or cycling next to each other to comfortably pass someone travelling in the opposite direction. (Thanks to Cr Atwood who requested that Council repair this deteriorating bikeway last year).
News from around the world
US cities, including New York and Philadelphia are starting to introduce “neighborhood slow zones”—a relatively infrastructure-light path to safer streets that drops speed limits to 20 mph on interior roads in residential areas. Portland has already moved to 20mph (roughly 30kph) for residential streets, and Boston and Washington DC could soon follow.
Reducing speeds is the best, easiest, and fastest way to radically improve safety, for both drivers and anyone in front of them. But there are other advantages to a “slow city” as discussed in this article. For those concerned that slower speeds limits will somehow lead to more congestion, it’s worth thinking about the consequences of rushing between stops compared to a calmer environment where “slow is smooth, smooth is fast”.
In the UK, the city of Birmingham has plans to prioritise people over cars, with the aim to dramatically increase air quality and make the city carbon-neutral by 2030. The scheme will mean that no private vehicles will be able to travel through the centre of the city; they will still be allowed in, but will have to exit through the same segment they entered. Car parking in the city centre will also be reduced, and companies will be charged an annual fee for each workplace parking space they provide.
We could do something similar in Brisbane, making driving into the CBD less attractive than cycling or catching public transport, and removing the traffic which currently treats the CBD and The Valley as a thoroughfare.
Have you had any epic adventures by bike this summer? Make a short film to capture the thrill!
Entries in the Brisbane Bike Bites short film competition close on 7 February, so you still have time to capture some footage, pick the best 5 minutes (or less) and put together an entry. Finalists will be shown on the big screen at the Schonell Cinema at the Brisbane Bicycle Film Festival 2020 on March 14.
This is one of our favourite films from 2019: