22 Nov 2020

The mystery of the traffic island

Some time last weekend, a new island appeared blocking the bike lane on Oxley Road, Chelmer. It was simply dangerous. We totally support safety improvements for pedestrians, and suggest that this crossing should be converted to a “wombat crossing” (a zebra crossing on a raised platform). In the meantime we asked Council to remove the bike-lane barrier immediately before someone was hurt.

Then things started getting a little weird. In Council on Tuesday, Infrastructure Chair, Cr McLachlan claimed this work was done by TMR, not Brisbane City Council. We were surprised, as Oxley Road is a BCC road. Then Minister Mark Bailey MP confirmed on Twitter that it was not a TMR installation.

But by Thursday, it was all a bad dream. We still don’t know who put it there, but the dangerous island blocking the bike lane on Oxley Road at Chelmer was gone! Thanks to Cr Nicole Johnston and Mark Bailey MP for following up.

Cr Ryan Murphy tweeted:

It’s now been removed but here are the facts. It wasn’t BCC, it wasn’t TMR, it wasn’t QUU, it wasn’t the School. We are led to believe that a private citizen may have installed this illegally! It’s pretty rare but does happen. Maybe a parent at the school? We’ll never know.

Cr Ryan Murphy

In Council on Tuesday afternoon, Cr Ryan Murphy gave the latest update on the CityLink Cycleway: the construction contract has been awarded to Abergeldie Constructions, and work will begin this month.

Although it has felt like an interminable wait (we’ve been campaigning for protected cycleways in the CBD for 5 years!) everything is now in place for the bikeways on Elizabeth St and Edward St to roll out quickly – hopefully open in time for Christmas.

Cr Murphy reiterated that the alignment was chosen on the basis of safety, convenience, and comfort. Protected cycleways on Elizabeth and Edward Streets will provide meaningful connections immediately, and will ultimately complement other links including to the Victoria Bridge and into South Brisbane (Brisbane Metro project), Bicentennial Bikeway via Queens Wharf Road (Queens Wharf Brisbane), Kangaroo Point Green Bridge (a Council project), and the Albert St renewal (Cross River Rail).

We know some people will be frustrated the connections they need are missing in this first stage, but we’re confident that a fast roll-out of the infrastructure before Christmas will get many people riding over summer and make the case for rapidly expanding and improving the network.

New Farm Park

Brisbane City Council had planned to make a road through New Farm Park to carry motor traffic to the Powerhouse. The city needs more spaces where people can get away from traffic and relax. This road would make New Farm Park noisy, dangerous, and unattractive.

A group of residents organised a petition, which reached 2,000 signatures in just a few days (and is now over 3,000).

“Council believe there’s a congestion problem at this end of the peninsula and their solution was to redirect that traffic through the heritage ring road of New Farm Park.”

Genevieve Fraser, New Farm resident

As their campaign grew, Councillor Vicki Howard backed away from supporting the plans to stuff more cars into the park, announcing she would no longer support the new road.

This was always a really bad idea but we thank Cr Vicki Howard for listening to the community’s concerns.

We’d love to see things taken further, with cars removed from New Farm Park altogether. That would make the central loop an ideal place for people to walk, jog, skate, scoot, and for kids to play and learn to ride bikes. The best, shady places in the park shouldn’t be taken up by cars!

We think the answer for better access is more disabled parking spaces convenient to all the park entrance points; reducing congestion on surrounding streets by removing cars from the park (thus improving the bus service); and encouraging people to visit the park by walking, cycling, or catching a bus or ferry from home.

Hopefully Council will thoroughly consider the benefits of a large inner-urban car-free space when responding to our petition.

Sir Fred Schonell Drive Black Spot

This week, Council’s Infrastructure Committee considered a response to our petition requesting a review the design for the Sir Fred Schonell Drive and Coldridge Street intersection in St Lucia. The background to this confirms our suspicions, and makes for interesting reading:

A previous “upgrade” of this intersection was completed in June 2014, replacing the four-leg roundabout with traffic lights to provide a signalised three-way intersection, which included a filtered right-turn movement from Sir Fred Schonell Drive into Coldridge Street. “The priority at the time was to improve traffic flow and address congestion… while also improving safety for road users, including cyclists and pedestrians.”

Prior to 2014, there were eight recorded crashes over a 5 year period. Since that “upgrade” there have been 15 reported crashes over 6 years – mostly caused by drivers failing to give way when performing that filtered right-turn movement from Sir Fred Schonell Drive into Coldridge Street.

That’s a 56% increase in the rate of serious crashes since the “upgrade” in 2014. The intersection is now considered so dangerous an additional $1.5 million of public money is required to “fix” it.

Disturbingly, Council does not see any problem with that. We wonder if the engineer who signed off on the 2014 design is still working for Council, and as a Registered Professional Engineer.

Council also insist that the 60kph speed limit on 4-lane Sir Fred Schonell Drive is totally appropriate, and that it would be impossible to include cycling lanes without resuming land and relocating services. The concept of reclaiming space from kerb-side parking, and implementing a “road diet” (which is standard practice in more enlightened cities) is apparently not even within their comprehension.

They also insist that adding extra turning lanes does not expand the intersection (because technically it will stay within the current spatial footprint), and that “the footpath network provides suitable connections through the intersection and between UQ and the Guyatt Park ferry terminal to meet pedestrian requirements” despite the glaring desire-line worn through the grass that says otherwise.

$1.5 million of public money is being used to fix an earlier botch.

It is also disheartening to read that Commonwealth Government Black Spot funding cannot be used to make improvements for active transport – it is limited to addressing the “identified safety issue of road users failing to give way when making the right turn from Sir Fred Schonell Drive into Coldridge Street“. In other words, the money can only be spent to compensate for poor driver behaviour, not to improve conditions for people who are not driving.

It was frustrating to listen to the committee meeting as Cr McLachlan insisted that because a west-bound lane was being removed (after being added in 2014), the addition of extra turning lanes doesn’t amount to enlarging the intersection, and therefore it was OK to simply ignore requests to improve the intersection for pedestrians and cyclists (eg. by adding a direct pedestrian crossing on the eastern arm). And repeating the fallacy that providing cycling facilities on Sir Fred Schonell Drive would require land resumptions and major service relocations – when actually it would just require reducing this peninsula road from 4 lanes (which is wider than the Bruce Highway in many places) down to 3.

Junction Rd, Morningside

There was (potentially) better news in response to a petition from East BUG to create protected bike lanes along Junction Rd, Morningside as part of resurfacing works planned for this year:

“Council has undertaken initial investigations into your request for a redesign of line markings to create protected bicycle lanes. Initial investigations have shown there is potential for your proposed improvements to be implemented on Junction Road.

..It is expected that a design will be finalised later this calendar year, and any changes to the line marking layout confirmed thereafter.”

Petition response

It would be great to have protected bike lanes on this busy road, and hopefully to set a precedent for other similar roads around Brisbane.
Thanks to the councillors from both neighbouring wards who supported this petition: Councillor Kara Cook (Morningside Ward) and Cr Lisa Atwood (Doboy Ward).

Now to get some action on the Junction/Lytton/Colmslie Rd roundabout

Old Cleveland Road horror show

Also in the eastern suburbs, EaST BUG are still chasing a response from TMR about why the plans for the Old Cleveland Rd off ramp at the Gateway Motorway in Belmont don’t comply with the State Government’s Cycling Infrastructure Policy which requires explicit and high quality provision for cycling as part of projects on Principal Cycle Network routes.

Meanwhile, if you follow the existing bike infrastructure—including the “all bicycles” sign—you’re in for a nasty surprise where it is roped off at Mt Petrie Rd.

If you make it safely through the current works and back onto Old Cleveland Rd, you then face the results of an earlier project by Council; you need to decide whether to try to take the lane in front of impatient drivers to stay on the road heading west, or stay in the bike lane to be spat out onto the narrow footpath.

Taking a wrong turn at Bowen Hills

This week 9 News Queensland ran a story about a food delivery rider taking a wrong turn into the Airport Link tunnel at Bowen Hills, and how the Transurban operators averted this potential disaster and quickly allowed motorists to carry on through (because of course nothing is more important).

Our latest blog post takes a closer look at how this, and other similar incidents, likely unfolded and suggests some practical steps that Transurban, Department of Transport and Main Roads and Brisbane City Council could take to actually make the city safer, rather than just mocking people working for low wages in a stressful and challenging environment.

North Brisbane Bikeway update

On a brighter note, the North Brisbane Bikeway is looking good, and so is breakfast at The Chill Café!

Café owner, Carsten reports that business is actually pretty good during construction. Without the on-street commuter parking, the café is more visible, and customers who arrive by car can see there is plenty of parking around the back. He’s looking forward to the bikeway being finished though, and has exciting plans for the business. (Not sure we can say, so watch this space…)

Kedron Brook Bikeway widening

We were happy to read that one of the items for this week’s meeting of Council’s Public and Active Transport Committee was a recommendation to approve expenditure of $163,100 from the Northgate Ward Suburban Enhancement Fund for the reconstruction and widening of the Kedron Brook Bikeway between Shaw Road and Kedron Brook at Wavell Heights. (Each Councillor has a discretionary annual budget for local path and park improvements, but projects over $100k need to be approved by the appropriate committee.) We thank Councillor Adam Allan for taking action – some of this section of the Kedron Brook Bikeway is less than 2m wide, creating a high potential conflict zone on what is a very busy cycling and walking/running route.

Bikeway Repairs

Fixing and upgrading bikeways around Brisbane seems really inconsistent. In the western suburbs, Cr Steve Toomey recently posted that the path by Enoggera Creek near St Johns Wood Scouts in Ashgrove is being widened to 3m. Riders in the eastern suburbs are left wondering why we can’t get proper repairs to the Bulimba Creek Bikeway through Minnippi Parklands instead of just dribbles of asphalt and sand in the cracks?

Miles Platting Road Rochedale

There was better news from Rochedale, with Council last week approving a request from Councillor Steven Huang for a new concrete footpath on Miles Platting Road between the Bulimba Creek bridge and the Gateway Motorway connecting Rochedale and Eight Mile Plains. That follows a meeting onsite earlier this year. There’s still plenty to do to connect the growing suburb of Rochedale, but this is an obvious and important link to the Eight Mile Plains Bus Station (soon to be Metro Station), Bulimba Creek Bikeway, and V1 Veloway.

Kangaroo Point intersection

We just received notification on Wednesday that the project to “upgrade” the intersection of Main St and River Terrace in Kangaroo Point is now complete. That was surprising, as there still appeared to be a lot of work left to finish the shared path along Main St.

We were pleased to note that the path on the triangular island has been widened – to what we assume is 2m from the totally unsuitable 1.2m originally installed. But the bike/scoot/walk route along Main St – which is supposed to be the Principal Cycle Route – is still very disappointing.

Heading south on Main St, the 2.5m shared path (still under construction yesterday) effectively runs out at the crossing, with narrow kerb ramps, and the beg-button on the right-hand side out of arms reach if you line up with the ramp. The path across the island is less than the 2.5m minimum for a shared path, and there is another beg-button (again on the right hand side) to complete the crossing. It’s all very underwhelming.

Indooroopilly Riverwalk

There was better news from Indooroopilly, where construction of the new riverwalk is ahead of schedule, and it’s expected to open in mid-2021. We’re very much looking forward to this important link in the route between UQ and the Centenary Cycleway and western suburbs.

Chris even featured on 7 News Brisbane talking about it:

Veloway overpass at O’Keefe St

In some exciting news, Greenslopes MP Joe Kelly announced that the Veloway overpass at O’Keefe St is confirmed. We don’t yet have any details, or confirmation of the timing, but it’s great to know this is in the budget and will go ahead!

Morningside pedestrian crossing

Morningside and Seven Hills residents are asking for a pedestrian crossing on Waminda St, near Moolabar St, where the current refuge is quite inadequate. At peak times, Waminda St gets very congested, while at other times, it’s a high-speed road – including plenty of heavy vehicle traffic. Crossing is really difficult.

We’d like to see a more complete solution, with a proper protected roundabout (giving safety and priority to pedestrians and cyclists) at the intersection of Waminda St, Bennetts Rd and Agnew St. But in the meantime, we support this petition. An improved solution is urgently needed here!

Bike-testing the new KittyCat ferries

This week a fleet of new (to Brisbane) KittyCat vessels started work on the Brisbane River servicing the free inner-city CityHopper route, and providing a cross-river ferry service between Thornton St and Riverside. Although there are no bike-racks onboard these vessels, we are happy to confirm that it is much easier to manoeuvre a bike on and off them than the older wooden-hulled vessels they are (temporarily?) replacing, and which are still in use between Bulimba and Teneriffe.

Sadly, ferry services from Thornton St and Norman Park have been permanently discontinued. For Kangaroo Point residents, the new green bridge will go some way to compensate in a few years when it is completed, but at Norman Park this is a big blow for people who want to cross the river to access the safe cycle paths on the other side.

Gone fishing

What’s the best way to transport crab pots and fishing gear? Bicycle of course! Spotted on the Deagon Deviation Bikeway at Brighton:

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

The introduction of Low Traffic Neighbourboods (LTNs) in some places in the UK have been controversial, but where they have persisted, some of the most strident opponents have been converted to supporters.

Hardware store owner Steve Robson helped to raise a petition against the scheme in his neighbourhood, fearing the proposed changes would be “devastating”. Now his street is more vibrant, his business has expanded, and he readily admits he got it completely wrong.

Elsewhere, there have been wild claims about residents being “trapped”, but more sensible voices have realised: “Driving now takes slightly longer, but I can drive to every address I could before.” The winners are not just the people who were previously too intimidated to cycle but are now finding it an enjoyable and safe way to get around; streets with less motor vehicle traffic are quieter, healthier, and more pleasant for everyone.