21 March 2021

Wet weather and driving

Be careful out there in the rain, folks. Some people experience poor decision-making when it’s wet..

GoBetween Bridge update

First, an update on the GoBetween Bridge resurfacing: Unfortunately, the remaining work on the cycleway requires 5 to 7 more days of dry weather. With the current forecast, that could be some time away!

Then the whole process will be repeated for the pedestrian side.

(We do like the “work ute” our contact on Thursday arrived on to check on the conditions.)

From Council’s Public and Active Transport Committee Meeting this week, an update on the CityLink Cycleway trial:

Since it opened on 29 January, there have been 13,000 bike trips on the protected cycleway on Elizabeth St near George St and 9,000 trips on the other end near Creek St. There have been over 3,000 trips on Edward St less than a month after it opened.

Progress is going well on the next section of the cycleway along William St and across Victoria Bridge, and that’s on track to be open before the end of March.

So far, Council have received over 200 responses to their online survey about the trial. We encourage everyone to jump online and have their say in support of protected cycleways.

The wet weather doesn’t seem to have interrupted work on the CityLink Cycleway connection along William St to the Victoria Bridge this week. It’s starting to look tantalisingly close…

It’s also good to see some more upright yellow wands have been installed on the CityLink Cycleway along Elizabeth St. We’re aware of incidents where pedestrians have tripped on the low yellow curb and fallen while crossing the road. (We note that it’s perfectly legal to cross the street if you’re further than 20m from a signalised crossing, and at the intersections a crowd of people are often trying to cross at once, so naturally they tend to spread out.)

When your focus is on looking up the road for traffic, or negotiating around other people at a busy crossing, it’s easy to mis-judge an obstacle outside your field of vision. Hopefully the upright wands are a simple way to address that problem.

A mid-block crossing between George and Albert Streets would help too, but the entry and exit to the Meyer Centre carpark make that difficult.

E-Mobility Strategy

This week, Council’s Public and Active Transport Committee received an update on the E-Mobility Strategy. The draft strategy was open for public comment from November to February, and Council received 848 responses to their online survey and 80 email responses – including from Brisbane CBD BUG, Brisbane West BUG, Bicycle Queensland and Queensland Walks.

We learned that usage of hire scooters (Lime and Neuron) in Brisbane is up to pre-COVID levels, with over 5,000 trips per day. That’s in contrast to public transport patronage which is still low: bus usage is at 71% of pre-COVID levels, and ferries are at only 57%. Despite COVID, there have been 3.7 million scooter trips on public hire scooters since their introduction in December 2018.

Council are currently evaluating responses to a tender for public hire e-bikes and e-scooters, and expects these to be on the streets by late July. Criteria for how they assess the responses include:

  • how the company responds to complaints from the public
  • engagement with police and community groups
  • demonstrated history of effectively dealing with safety issues and incidents.

A big focus of Council’s strategy going forward will be designated e-mobility parking zones. There was also mention of a last-mile trial from the Greenslopes and Buranda Busway stations with designated drop-off locations.

There wasn’t any specific discussion of the elephant in the room: that the overwhelming majority of trips in Brisbane are taken by motor vehicles, and that everyone else—whether they are walking, wheeling, cycling, scooting, skating, or hover-boarding—has for too long been a distant secondary consideration.

We commend Council’s willingness to adapt to new technology and the obvious demand for micro-mobility travel options. To support this, we will continue to advocate for more separated lanes which can be used by bikes, e-bikes, and e-scooters, so they don’t have to rely of using the footpaths. We’d also like to see the speed limit on neighbourhood streets reduced to 30kph, so it is legal for e-mobility devices to use the road. (They are currently not permitted on multi-lane roads or where the speed limit is >40kph). Of course, that would be safer and more comfortable for all road users.

According to Dr Rebecca Michael, head of public policy at RACQ, in the Brisbane Times this week:

“Ever-increasing traffic on our roads causing gridlock and frustration, and it’s got even worse since the pandemic
…. Brisbane is lacking suitable alternatives, but with the right infrastructure, private e-bikes and e-scooters could be the key to driving a sustainable modal-shift in how people travel. Unfortunately, the river city isn’t yet ready, and it needs to be.”

Dr Rebecca Michael, RACQ

Let’s work on addressing the causes of problems that are becoming apparent with increasing uptake of e-mobility devices, while not losing sight of the fact that every journey which replaces one by car is a win for the community—not just in terms of congestion, but also road safety, community health, environmental impact, air quality, land value, the economy, and even happiness!

Chermside to Aspley Bikeway

We were a little surprised, listening to Council on Tuesday, when Councillor Fiona Hammond expressed concern that State Government requirements were rushing construction of the North Brisbane Bikeway extension from Webster Rd to Nevin St, Aspley. This section of bikeway was first mooted publicly in late 2017 and we’re aware of concept plans from 2018 (which were circulated in 2019).

In May/June 2020, councils from around Queensland were asked to nominate “shovel ready” active transport projects for funding under the State Government’s COVID-Safe Works for Queensland program. This was one of the 4 projects put forward for the $5 million allocation to Brisbane City Council; indeed it accounted for more than half of that funding.

If this bikeway was “shovel-ready” in June 2020, why would starting it now be rushing? If plans have changed substantially, why not proceed instead with alternative projects from the lists we prepared for local councillors last year of straight-forward but high-impact active transport projects that could be completed quickly, supporting local jobs.

Also of concern: the concept plans from 2018 recommended dropping the speed on the Gympie Rd service road to 30kph where it was to be shared with cyclists. In 2019, a number of speed humps were installed on that service road, and those have an advisory speed of 20kph. So why does the latest version of the bikeway plan now indicate 40kph for the service road? That does not meet the standard for a safe traffic environment for people of all ages and abilities to be able to cycle.

We’re keen for this bikeway connection to go ahead. But at the same time, for $2.7million it should have good connections, and be suitable for everyone – including children cycling to school.

Bulimba Creek Bikeway Lighting

We’re happy to hear that work on lighting the Bulimba Creek Bikeway between the Veloway and Freesia St, Macgregor will begin in April. This was another of four projects that Brisbane City Council nominated as “shovel ready” in May last year for funding under the Queensland Government’s COVID-Safe Works for Queensland Program. We’re surprised it has taken so long to get the shovels out….

Hopefully there won’t be any construction delays, and the project will be completed and remitted by the end of June, meeting the requirements for the funding program.

Veloway heading south

We’re excited to see glimpses of the new Veloway heading south from Eight Mile Plains to Underwood Road. The full project—which includes extending the Veloway as far as Daisy Hill—is due for completion in 2024, but hopefully the cycleway might be opened before then. We can’t wait!

Logan Road bike lanes

Nearby, after years of being the worst stretch of the ride from Brisbane to Logan and the Gold Coast, Logan Road south from the Gateway Motorway (and the current end of the Veloway at Eight Mile Plains) is about to get a lot friendlier for cycling. This will be great for local trips, even with the new Veloway running next to the Motorway, almost parallel. (Think of that as the express train, while Logan Rd serves local destinations).

On-road bike lanes are being installed along Logan Road from the Gateway Motorway at Eight Mile Plains through to Kingston Rd, Underwood. Although we were involved in an initial consultation back in 2019, we haven’t actually been provided with updated plans. However, what we can see so far looks great – the cycle lanes are SO MUCH BETTER than the previous arrangement where riders were regularly squeezed into the guard rail or towards parked cars.

It’s also good to see that the footpath between Eight Mile Plains and Underwood Road has been substantially upgraded; it was in a very sorry state!

One annoyance though: in places where there is extra road width, this should have been used as a buffer between the bike lane and moving traffic, rather than to the left of the bike lane next to the kerb.

We know our friends at Logan BUG are watching this closely.

Eatons Crossing Road

From Brisbane North BUG: Eatons Crossing Road is a popular cycling corridor between Strathpine and Samford, and also links the residents of Eatons Hill and Cashmere with their local primary school, the Eatons Hill Hotel and the South Pine Sports Complex. Transport and Main Roads (TMR) recognises the importance of this corridor as it forms part of their Principal Cycle Network. So when TMR announced a $57m project to improve this corridor, we had hoped TMR would follow their own policies and include explicit active transport options. However, this is not the case.

According to the response received by one of our members, the projects works of wide centreline treatment, wider shoulders along Eatons Crossing Road, upgrading the Lilley Road intersection to a signal-controlled intersection, and widening works to include police enforcement bays will be sufficient.

We are calling on TMR to follow their own cycling policy and include explicit active transport infrastructure in this major project. The ideal option would be a separate off-road cycling option to enable all people (8 to 80) to safely use this route. Even a bicycle lane would be an interim improvement.

Around the Suburbs

Elsewhere around the suburbs, the Manly Rd upgrade project at Wakerley restarted this week. It will continue the 2.5m off-road shared path to Bulimba Creek (just before New Cleveland Rd), as well as adding a 1.8m on-road bike lane. The work also involves relocating a water main and bus stop. It will take up to 5 months.

Also scheduled for this week – but we’re not sure how it’s going with the weather – Council are widening the short strip of pathway along Whites Rd, Lota just north of the boardwalk. This is part for the Moreton Bay Cycleway, but has always been a pinch point.
Sadly, still no news on upgrading the boardwalk and causeway. We understand that is an ongoing source of frustration given how regularly the path floods, but we have not been able to generate interest at any level of government.

On the other side of Brisbane, Moreton Bay Regional Council have just released the preliminary design for the bikeway through Harry Evans Park at Arana Hills. This is a great project that will make it safer for commuting by giving people an option rather than using roads like Patricks Road. As well as providing a crucial missing link between the Hills District and Brisbane’s northern suburbs.

The project team will be at Arana Hills Shopping Centre on Thursday 25 March between 4pm and 6pm where you can drop in to view the design and ask questions.

Brisbane North BUG have also reported a hazard on the North Brisbane Bikeway where it goes under the railway tracks by Breakfast Creek at Windsor. Poor drainage in this area has created very slippery conditions. As you can see from our photo, the drain that is supposed to take the water across the path is a couple of metres away from the low point in the gutter. And unfortunately, water doesn’t flow uphill, so it seeps across the path for days or weeks after heavy rain, creating perfect growing conditions for a layer of slime. Be careful – try not to turn as you ride or scoot through the bottom of the dip.

We are happy to report that someone pressure-washed the path Friday afternoon, which should make it safer for a little while.

National Ride 2 School Day

Image credit: Cr Nicole Johnson

Well done to all the kids and families who biked to school today for National Ride2School Day. Mike and Jesse from Useful – Bike People ran a clinic at Sherwood State School to help the kids learn how to keep their bikes ready for 2-wheeled fun! Thanks to the support from local councillor, Cr Nicole Johnston.

Sydney rolls on

Sydney’s 6 pop-up cycleways that were put in place to make active transport safer and easier during the COVID lockdown last year will remain in place for another 2 years. But already, the cycleway on Pitt St has proved such a success, it, and the expanded footpath and outdoor dining space, will become a permanent addition.

Across greater Sydney, rider numbers are up by around 40% on pre-pandemic levels.