- Pop-up bikeways coming to the Brisbane CBD!
- Other Council Budget News
- Grammar Path to stay open!
- North Brisbane Bikeway – Stage 5
- Around the Suburbs
- Beyond Brisbane
Pop-up bikeways coming to the Brisbane CBD!
We started this week wondering if Brisbane would ever follow Melbourne – where they are fast-tracking 40km of new separated bikeways over the next 2 years, creating a highly connected grid in the CBD, and improving connections from the surrounding suburbs. The first 20 kilometres of that network will be delivered in 2020-21 at a cost of just $16 million.
The first 20 kilometres of that network will be delivered in 2020-21 at a cost of just $16 million. Meanwhile, in Sydney, it’s already happening; the first 3 recently announced pop-up cycleways will be open by the end of June, with 3 more to follow. These connections are all about making cycling a safe, viable option for short trips, and freeing up space on public transport for those who can’t cycle.
Which had us asking: when would Brisbane get moving?! Then, on Tuesday in Council’s meeting, Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner effectively announced pop-up bikeways in the Brisbane CBD!! In question time in Council, he confirmed that was the highest priority project Council nominated to the Queensland Government for funding under the 2020-21 COVID Works for Queensland program. He confirmed that Council have been “quietly but diligently” exploring the best way to deliver safe cycling infrastructure in the CBD. Woohoo! Bring it on!! 🥳🥳
After waiting so long (we’ve campaigned for this for almost 5 years!) we almost couldn’t believe, but the Lord Mayor confirmed it in his budget speech: Council will invest $29 million in in their active transport infrastructure fund. Over the next 4 years, $16.6m will go toward pedestrian and cycling projects in the CBD, including…
“I’m pleased to announce we will work with the State Government to deliver popup bike lanes in the Brisbane CBD as soon as possible”.
Around four years ago, we started doing a slow roll around the CBD every Tuesday after Council’s meetings, and said we’d keep going until we saw a grid of protected bikeways in the city. We had to put that on hold due to coronavirus, but this week seemed like a good time to restart. On Wednesday evening we went for a “victory lap” around the city!
We still didn’t have any details of what was proposed, so Belinda spent a gruelling 6 hours in budget information sessions on Friday, to see what more we could learn. Thanks to Councillor Angela Owen for asking about the proposed CBD lanes. The answer was still light on detail, but Public and Active Transport Chair, Cr Ryan Murphy listed Edward St, Elizabeth St, and Albert St. He made it clear he was talking about 2-way separated/protected cycleways, which is great news. Also, describing it as “City Centre Cycle Network Stage 1” is promising. Our thoughts:
- Edward St – We think this is an obvious choice. It’s vital for connecting the Kangaroo Point to CBD Bridge, and in the immediate term will provide a connection into the heart of the CBD from the Botanic Gardens. Logistically it might be the trickiest of the streets though, due to bus traffic on Edward St.
- Elizabeth St – offers a great connection, again delivering right into the middle of the CBD. Seeing the right-most of the current 4 general traffic lanes repurposed to a 2-way bikeway would be fantastic. Elizabeth St could also connect well with a cycleway across Victoria Bridge – although we think that strengthens the case for the bikeway on the downstream rather than upstream side.
- Albert St – is obviously limited because you can’t ride through the mall at Queen St. Also, right now the section between Mary and Charlotte St is pedestrian-only while the Cross River Rail Station is being built. But the top of Albert St connects the North Brisbane Bikeway into the city, and could definitely be improved. Being able to ride down Albert St from Elizabeth St to Charlotte St would be great, and Albert St connects well into the Botanic Gardens and through to the Goodwill Bridge.
Other Council Budget News
Also in the budget information session Council’s Transport for Brisbane program, we learned that the projects submitted for funding under the Queensland Government’s COVID-Safe Works for Queensland Program (which allocated $5 million to Brisbane City Council) were:
- $0.9 million for City Centre Cycle Network Stage 1 (pop-up bikeways – see above)
- $2.7 million for North Brisbane Bikeway – Chermside to Aspley
- $1.15 million for Main St, Kangaroo Point – widening the shared path to 2.5m between River Tce and St Vincents Hospital.
- $0.25 million for Bulimba Creek Bikeway lighting between the V1 Veloway and Freesia St (presumably Macgregor)
This funding is for “shovel-ready” projects that will deliver value to residents while supporting local construction jobs. We think these projects fit the bill, and hope to see them all funded and underway very soon.
There was also good news that—unlike in previous years—Council seems adamant they want to take a network perspective rather than announcing and constructing disjointed pieces of cycleway in a seemingly random order. Plus they have committed to taking input from the BUGs and working with the Queensland Government to identify and prioritise projects via the Active Transport Advisory Committee (ATAC).
The not so good news is that it seems they have allocated less than $30 million over four years to bikeway projects other than the green bridges program and Indooroopilly Riverwalk. (In contrast, $126 million has been allocated to a single road intersection project, replacing the roundabout at Indooroopilly.)
That highlights the need to also ensure provision for cycling is included in all infrastructure projects, such as intersection upgrades, other road construction, and major developments.
Council’s budget includes $90 million annually for road resurfacing, and an 8-page list of roads to be done this year. In the budget information session for the Infrastructure Program on Friday, Cr Jonathan Sri asked what process was in place to identify which of those roads were on the Principal Cycle Network and work with Council’s bikeway team so identify opportunities to improve cycling safety when replacing the line-marking. Unfortunately Cr David McLachlan‘s response seemed to imply that wasn’t considered, and Cr Sri was not permitted to expand the question.
We think it’s an important point. Roads like Junction Rd in Morningside have room for bike-lanes next to the kerb, buffered by space for on-road parking. All it would take would be paint and some cheap infrastructure like flexible bollards. $1.2million has been allocated in 2020-2021 to resurface Junction Road, and surely this would be the perfect opportunity to reconfigure the road to create space where more people would not be too intimidated to ride.
Funding for bridges and culverts – both new and for “reconstruction and rehabilitation” (which sometimes means replacement) – is also included under Infrastructure rather than Active Transport. That’s despite many of these bridges and culverts being on bikeways/shared paths, or offering the possibility of providing new/improved active transport links (eg. recent culvert widening where Beams Rd crosses Cabbage Tree Creek). Of course it doesn’t really matter where the line-item sits as long as vital work is carried out, but perhaps the separation of these areas could help explain why the priorities for bridge improvements and new bridges don’t always address the most significant gaps and issues in the bikeway network.
But residents on the south side of the Brisbane River might again be wondering why bridges across Perrin Creek, Bulimba Creek, Norman Creek, Lota Creek, Oxley Creek, Stable Swamp Creek, etc don’t seem to get the same attention as those on the north-side. Cr Nicole Johnston raised this issue in the Infrastructure Program budget information session, highlighting that other than maintenance for existing cross-river bridges and a small amount for repairs to the Oxford Parade Bridge at Forest Lake, all the money in this part of the budget is allocated to projects on the north side.
New bridges listed for construction this year are:
* Idonia Street, Bridgeman Downs (Cabbage Tree Creek Bikeway) – $946,000
* Beech Street, Ferny Grove – $978,000
Those listed for rehabilitation and repair work include:
- 7th Brigade Park Replace Stage 2, Chermside
- Ashgrove Avenue Bridge Resurfacing, Ashgrove
- Brickyard Road Bridge Stage 1, Virginia
- Curtain Avenue East Handrails Stage 2, Pinkenba
- Depot Road Bikeway Bridge Repairs Stage 2, Deagon
- Haven Road Culvert Relining, Upper Brookfield
- Hawera Court Bridge Protection, Aspley
- Kholo Bridge Expansion Joint Refurbishment, Kholo
- Old Sandgate Road Bridge Removal and Footpath Connection, Virginia
- Oxford Parade Bridge Repairs, Forest Lake
- Roghan Road Culvert Rehabilitation, Bridgeman Downs
- Shelgate Street Bridge Replacement Stage 2, Chermside West
- Tallowwood Place Bridge Replacement Stage 2, Bridgeman Downs
There is also money in the budget for planning and design for repairs and rehabilitation of bridges/culverts (again all on the north side) at:
- Bracken Ridge Road Culvert Concept, Bracken Ridge
- Brickyard Road Bridge Design, Virginia
- Jim Soorley Bikeway Bridge Design, Brisbane Airport
- Nathan Avenue Footbridge Design, Ashgrove
- Nudgee Road Culverts Design, various suburbs
- Riaweena Street Bridge Concept, The Gap
Speaking of bridges, it seems the proposed fifth green bridge at Bellbowrie is now off the table, following a lot of negative feedback on the proposal. We think this is a shame for the residents of Bellbowrie and surrounding suburbs who have turned down an opportunity for better public and active transport. (For the record, a bridge at this location was always intended to include buses as well as walking and cycling, and would have provided a link to the rail line—something those suburbs don’t currently have).
That situation is a little reminiscent of what happened at Bulimba a decade ago, where a few outspoken voices strongly opposed a crossing from Bulimba to Teneriffe on the basis of increased traffic (even though only a green bridge was proposed) and that it would need to be a huge structure—ignoring the possibility of a moveable bridge or a tunnel. Now Council has said they will consider alternative locations for a fifth green bridge, could the desperately needed river crossing between the Story Bridge and Gateway Bridge be back in play??
Grammar Path to stay open!
We had some (qualified) good news this week about the Grammar Path: the Cross River Rail team have found a way to keep the path open during their upcoming works – which will start next week and continue until late October 2020. However, the section of path directly behind Brisbane Girls Grammar School will be reduced to 1.2m wide, for about 240m. Dedicated pull over / passing bays will be provided.
Cyclists will be asked to “follow signage”. We’ve asked that the team look at stop-go traffic management (possibly with lights) rather than requesting cyclists to dismount, since that can be difficult/painful for some people, and because walking next to a bike takes up more space on a narrow path than riding it slowly.
There will also be a temporary single day closure on Monday 22 June from 9am until 4pm to install fencing. Traffic management will be in place and pedestrians and cyclists detoured via Gregory Terrace and College Road. There will also be a number of further similar closures – again planned outside peak morning and afternoon commuting times.
North Brisbane Bikeway – Stage 5
Tuesday afternoon was the last Council meeting before the budget sessions and winter recess. It included discussion from last week’s Public and Active Transport Committee on a petition from Brisbane North BUG to extend the North Brisbane Bikeway “all the way to EJ” (Eagle Junction).
There have been various proposals for “Stage 5” of the North Brisbane Bikeway, including one from Price St to meet the Kedron Brook Bikeway at Brook Rd. That plan was abandoned after a few local residents and business owners complained it was untenable to limit on-street parking to just one side of the road.
The next iteration—which we dubbed the “western diversion”—was planned to branch off at Chalk St and head west through to Lutwyche.
Our preferred option “All the Way to EJ” is a more direct link to Toombul, Brisbane Airport, the Jim Soorley Bikeway, Gateway North Bikeway, and beyond
In the committee meeting last week, we learned that the cost of all 3 options was assessed to be similar, but it’s not yet clear which Council will decide to prioritise. (Wouldn’t it be great to see multiple good-quality active transport connections… almost like a network!)
Around the Suburbs
Riders who use Manly Rd through Wakerley and Tingalpa will be happy to hear that one of the horror sections is about to be upgraded. Inbound between Wondall Rd and New Cleveland Rd, Manly Rd will get a 1.8m on-road bike lane, and the current skinny footpath will be replaced with a 2.5m off road shared path.
No more having to “share the road” with fast-moving cars and trucks when the bike lane runs out into a gravel patch! 🚲🚲🚲
Meanwhile on the Veloway, prepare to stop…but maybe not need to! It looks like the sensors are in place to detect riders on the Veloway and Birdwood Rd shared path approaching the signalised crossing. Soon you might not have to stop there at all (unless of course you arrive shortly after someone else has already crossed, or at the same time as a bus).
Also, on Wednesday, there was concrete being poured at what was previously the work site entrance, and it looks like the site office and other equipment has been packed up. Belinda spoke to a project manager on site who confirmed that there are still some small pieces of work to be completed before Veloway Stage E is open, but yes, the “mid-2020” date is looking good…
One worksite that’s not going so well is the Inner City South State Secondary College at Dutton Park. We understand that there is often a need to temporarily use road space for construction vehicles – especially when concrete is being poured. However, doing it with no traffic management in place is dangerous and totally irresponsible. This was the scene on Annerley Rd outside the construction zone just before 8:30am on Monday morning, with a concrete truck parked in the middle of one of Brisbane’s busiest – and deadliest – bike routes. Work on this site is not being safely managed.
On a happier note, it’s good to see that the counter near the Goodwill Bridge at South Bank seems to be displaying correctly now. 2,500 people on bikes had passed by around 4:30pm on Wednesday.
Bikelanes are in demand everywhere as cycling is ‘rediscovered. There’s more progress in Melbourne, as the City of Yarra are trialling dedicated bike lanes along Elizabeth St through Richmond, which is an important connection into the CBD from the east. Yes, there will be some “loss” of parking, but it will allow thousands of people to travel safely to and from the city every day.
Of course, “unless you resource it, it won’t happen.” In the Republic of Ireland, cycling and walking schemes—including protected cycling networks and expanded sidewalks—will receive €360 million annually for the next 5 years. That’s 20% of Ireland’s transport budget going to walking and cycling, while two-thirds of the rest will go to public transit. Kudos to Eamon Ryan, a former bike shop owner and founding chairman of the Dublin Cycling Campaign, who has now taken his strong advocacy into parliament, and has seized the moment to make a real difference.