We’ve had another busy week on the campaign trail ensuring that healthy transport is a hot topic in the lead up to the Brisbane City Council election on 28 March.
Donna Burns, Greens candidate for Paddington joined Chris for a bike ride on Wednesday morning along Sylvan Road and the Bicentennial Bikeway – both of which were busy with commuters. (That’s hundreds of people getting a healthy dose of exercise and not adding to congestion or pollution travelling by car. 💚) Donna is a regular rider and is confident, but usually uses Sylvan Road on weekends. During peak hour the Miskin Street crossing with high volumes of vehicles and cyclists was quite overwhelming – which highlights how important this link between the Centenary and Bicentennial Bikeways is.
Chris and Donna also rode around Suncorp Stadium, and up the footpath on Given Terrace past the shops, then past Milton State School and Frew Park before navigating their way back to the Bicentennial Bikeway at Lang Parade. Donna has had feedback from residents that they would love to ride with their kids more, but they don’t feel safe getting to the Bicentennial Bikeway. Improving that access to make active transport a genuine option is a high priority.
On Sunday, newly appointed councillor for Bracken Ridge, Cr Sandy Landers, joined Andrew from Brisbane North BUG for a ride exploring parts of the Bracken Ridge Ward. On the ride the Cr Landers got to experience some great separated cycling infrastructure as well as some on-road riding. She and Andrew talked about the benefits of cycling, the missing links in the Cabbage Tree Creek Bikeway, as well as many other missing links in the cycling network. Plus they got to experience the joys of banana bars. 🍌 Having grown up in the area, Cr Landers knows it well. She assures us she will be taking an interest in the underpass beneath the Gateway Motorway at Bracken Ridge.
On the south side, all roads lead to The Gabba. So Belinda (from East BUG), Paul (CBD BUG), and Rachel Gallagher, Labor’s candidate for The Gabba, met up to talk about priorities for safe cycling infrastructure in West End, Kangaroo Point, Dutton Park, South Brisbane, Highgate Hill and Woolloongabba. Rachel rides a bike, but like many Brisbane residents, is often deterred by conditions that feel unsafe. She’d love to be able to take her daughter to kindy by bike, but is just not comfortable cycling on Vulture St with precious cargo.
Rachel has qualifications in environmental and urban planning, and we had a good discussion about what makes for healthy development. We agreed that Council have made some good progress on cycling infrastructure in The Gabba Ward recently with the Woolloongabba Bikeway, and Stage 1 of the Kangaroo Point Bikeway. But there’s still a long way to go to make travelling by bicycle a viable and attractive option for people of all ages and abilities. We discussed issues such as BCC’s removal of zebra crossings, the lack of a good east-west connection (Vulture St was highlighted in the South Brisbane Transport and Mobility Study), green bridges, the unfinished riverwalk at Kangaroo Point, re-phasing traffic lights to prioritise people walking and cycling, and opportunities for protected bikelanes on Melbourne St, Vulture St, and extending further east along Stanley St.
In the CBD, Judi Jabour, Labor‘s candidate for Central Ward and her partner Linda joined Donald and Nick from Brisbane CBD BUG for a ride. We’re excited that Patrick Condren’s team have recognised the benefits of making the CBD safe and convenient to get around by bike or scooter. Building a grid of protected bikelanes will help people replace car journeys with healthier and more space-efficient alternatives. It will also help enliven the city centre on weekends and public holidays. Taking the riverside path which many people use to avoid the hostile city streets, Donald also pointed out some of the issues along the way, including conflict due to poor planning at Howard Smith Wharves (more on that later…) and the need to do better when the Eagle St Pier section is upgraded. They also spoke about the opportunities for better connections into the CBD from Kelvin Grove and from Kangaroo Point.
We also had some great conversations at the Reimagine Brisbane: Ideas Fiesta and Policy Conference on the weekend. Our vision is of a city where it’s safe, easy, and attractive to get around by bike. Imagine shady streets where you can hear conversation and children playing rather than the constant noise and heat of traffic.
Thanks to Cr Jonathan Sri and The Gabba Ward office staff and volunteers for organising the day. It was great to catch up with Kath Angus, Greens candidate for Lord Mayor, Rolf Kuelsen, Greens for Morningside, Sally Dillon, Greens for Coorparoo, and Jenny Gamble, Greens for Holland Park. We also heard from interesting speakers like Laurel Johnson from UQ who reminded us of the importance of decentralising transport and development. Not everyone works standard business hours in the CBD; and not everyone wants to live in the inner suburbs, or could afford to if they did.
This week we welcomed the announcement from The Greens candidates for Brisbane City Council that one of their top priorities is to install 1,000 new pedestrian crossings across the city. This is a policy that puts people first. Rather than continue to pour millions of dollars each year into road widening projects that do nothing in the long term to reduce congestion, making walking and cycling safer and more convenient will create a healthier, happier Brisbane. Have a listen to what Jonathan Sri, Councillor for The Gabba and Sally Dillon, Greens for Coorparoo have to say about what this will mean for local communities:
Creating safe streets and connected neighbourhoods is not a “left” issue; it’s the key ingredient to a healthy, liveable and prosperous city.
Howard Smith Wharves. Again.
Those who signed the petition from Brisbane CBD BUG for safety improvements to the path through Howard Smith Wharves received a notification of the response from Council. 10 months after the petition closed. The response includes:
“Council considered the provision of a fully segregated bicycle and pedestrian path, and decided it was not achievable due to the constraints of the site.”
We already know from trawling through documents available on the planning site PDOnline, that Council bowed to “the Howard Smith Wharves Nominees’ consistent desire for the shared path not to have an overt through movement function.” That would strongly suggest that the “constraints of the site” mentioned in the petition response actually mean the desires of the developer. If you are as frustrated with this as we are, we recommend having a conversation with your local council candidates, and with your friends, colleagues, and neighbours ahead of the March 2020 council election!
Paul from Brisbane CBD BUG was quoted in the Brisbane Times on the issue. Unfortunately, the angle the paper didn’t pick up was that this was effectively a green-fields site with a well established active transport corridor through it linking to the $90 million riverwalk. The developer chose to deliberately inhibit that through-movement, and not only did Council let them get away with it, they are now writing their excuses; talking about “constraints of the site” as if these were not created by the development itself.
We were rather surprised by an announcement on Friday afternoon by South Brisbane MP Jackie Trad via her Facebook page, that TMR will be “building a brand new velobridge” on the Veloway to fly-over Lower River Terrace. No we weren’t consulted. But if we had been, we would have immediately listed half a dozen projects that we believe would provide better value than this. It’s not that there aren’t problems with the ramp here – which is steep, has a bend too tight for the gradient and volume of cycle traffic, and runs into Lower River Terrace which is used by motorists as a rat-run from Leopard St. We just think the issues could be addressed by more cost effective and less intrusive solutions than a long curved ramp out over the river. Meanwhile there are other problems along the Veloway (eg. at O’Keefe St and Birdwood Rd) and elsewhere that we believe are in more urgent need of fixing.
Did we mention Birdwood Road?? While we’re very much looking forward to being able to ride Stage E of the Veloway at Tarragindi (scheduled to open in mid-2020), we are also concerned it will put more pressure on the crossing at Birdwood Rd. We will continue to campaign for a permanent solution in the form of an overpass, but in the interim we are asking Brisbane City Council and TMR to collaborate to provide basic upgrades to the Birdwood Rd crossing in time for the opening of Stage E. Read the contents of our letter to Councillor Krista Adams and TMR in our latest blog post.
North Brisbane Bikeway
Anticipation is growing on the north-side for completion of the latest stage of the North Brisbane Bikeway. Mitch from Airport BUG noticed that the three remaining concrete sections along McDonald Road were completed on Friday. On Sunday, Chris from Brisbane North BUG reported that there was major construction going on at the fire station on Bridge Street, Wooloowin, and that Bridge Street was closed at Chalk Street for works. Did we mention that we’re excited to ride this??
Consultation on stage 4 of the North Brisbane Bikeway (which will take it as far as Price St, Wooloowin) is set for mid-February. If you live or work in the area, be sure to go along to 128 Bridge Street, Wooloowin (opposite the station) for one of the sessions:
- Wednesday 12 February 2020, 4.00pm to 6.00pm
- Saturday 15 February 2020, 8.00am to 10.00am
The local councillor has not supported previous attempts to connect this bikeway, preferring to reserve kerbside space exclusively for car parking, so it’s crucial to show your support for the state government’s work enabling people of all ages and abilities to travel by bike!
Other news from around the suburbs
At Newstead, another piece of upgraded infrastructure that reopened just before Christmas is the Mariners Reach Riverwalk. This has been big improvement, and we acknowledge the work of Brisbane City Council here:
In the south, we had a chance to check out the latest progress on the Ipswich Motorway upgrade project – including the new bikeway. From the plans, a few people had raised concerns about whether they would be able to connect back on to the Ipswich Rd service road north of Granard Rd. What we saw suggests good news: it appears there will be a ramp so that southbound cyclists can enter the protected bikeway just before the lane from Granard Rd joins the service road. Northbound cyclists will be able to cross the service road there to head north on Ipswich Rd. (Attempted illustration in blue in the second picture.)
As part of the Cross River Rail project, Fairfield Station will be significantly upgraded. Public consultation (including an online survey) is open until 7 February. Changes will include removing the existing wooden overpass, and replacing it with a new overpass with lifts and stairs. (But not ramps, which we consider a backward step for local access across the rail line.)
We’re happy to see that bike parking is included in the plans for the entry from Equity St. However, like most stations, bike parking needs to be provided on each side. No-one wants to be the person in the lift with their bike during morning peak, taking their bike up and across the busy walkway, and down in the lift again to the other side to lock it up, then back up to the walkway to get to the platform. We also note that the streets past Fairfield station on both sides are quite busy with traffic, so the plan to upgrade the station should include pedestrian crossings on both Equity and Mildmay Streets. Ideally, since the new overpass will be further north than the current structure, it should also span Mildmay St so that the lift and stairs connect directly to the walkway to Fairfield Library and shopping centre.
Meanwhile in Alderley, Queensland Rail have been forced to take down the old wooden bridge at Frederick St due to termite damage. It was permanently closed this week. This leaves the local people who ride with not many options. Brisbane City Council currently recommend using this bridge when going North-West.
While we understand why the bridge needs to go, the community needs a suitable replacement bridge. We understand that Queensland Rail are currently engaging with Brisbane City Council about replacing the bridge, and suggest that a temporary solution like one of these steel bridges could be used in the short term until a permanent bridge can be constructed.
Oh look, we spotted a new CityCycle station at Buranda train station…. ? Unfortunately not. But it would be great to get public bike share stations through inner city suburbs in the east – Woolloongabba, East Brisbane, Buranda, Cooparoo, and Norman Park. We know the desire is there!
News from around the world
Boulevard of better dreams? The city council in Los Angeles has released a proposal for Hollywood Boulevard that include wider sidewalks, more shade trees, more space for sidewalk dining, a protected lane for bikes and scooters — and far less space for drivers. Some tour bus operators have (predictably) claimed it would be bad for business, but others have realised that the tourists will keep coming, and the street will be much safer, healthier, and more attractive.
Also in the US, on Wednesday this week, San Francisco‘s iconic Market Street woke up free from cars. What a breath of fresh air! Without the cars, public transport works efficiently, cycling is safe and convenient, and walking becomes far more pleasant and comfortable. It’s not just European cities which are escaping the tyranny of cars.