With council now officially in caretaker mode ahead of the March 28 election, we’ve had a super-busy week out and about speaking with and cycling with council candidates all around Brisbane. That extends to all three of the candidates for Lord Mayor who have registered so far!
On our regular Tuesday evening Slow Roll, we came across Labor’s candidate for Lord Mayor, Patrick Condren who seemed pretty keen on getting himself a fat bike like Ben’s. Patrick has not only committed to protected bike lanes in the CBD, but also that he’ll come and ride them with us – straight out the door from City Hall!
Chris has been cycling all over the western suburbs with Greens candidate Kath Angus (more on that later), and then on the weekend, he caught up with Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner, along with other LNP councillors, James Mackay, Councillor for Walter Taylor, and Peter Matic, Councillor for Paddington at their mobile office at the Indooroopilly Shopping Centre. The Lord Mayor thanked West BUG for their support of the Indooroopilly Riverwalk and said a key focus next term will be on bike infrastructure to connect the proposed Green Bridges. We’re hoping that means CBD bike lanes and protected facilities on Sylvan Road!
Just before that, Chris went for a very quick ride with Cr James Mackay (LNP for Walter Taylor) at Witton Barracks Park, where the Indooroopilly Riverwalk is about to start construction. They talked about bike parking and ideas for the next stage of the Indooroopilly Bikeway which will connect the Riverwalk to the St Lucia Bikeway.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First, we should really give an overdue shout out to Tennyson Labor candidate Jackie Schneider, who Paul caught up with last week for what turned out to be a very wet ride. They had a look at some of the challenges cyclists face in Tennyson Ward, including the lack of east-west connections, crossing Venner Road, and connections south. They also checked out The Corso which is a very busy commuter and recreational cycling route – even in the rain. Thanks Jackie for braving the wet weather to come for a ride!
Fortunately the weather was much better a week later when Belinda met with current Tennyson Ward councillor, Cr Nicole Johnston (Independent) for a ride around the western side of the ward. Cr Johnston hadn’t been on a bike for years, so was a bit apprehensive beforehand, but she didn’t have any problem keeping up a running commentary on the 6.5km loop around Graceville and Sherwood.
Belinda and Nicole had a chat about active school travel (which is very popular at all the schools in Tennyson Ward), and the importance of designing streets around schools to encourage walking and cycling. Cr Johnston is really keen to see more zebra crossings on streets near schools, and in front of railway stations like Graceville and Sherwood (which we passed today), and Fairfield which will be upgraded as part of the Cross River Rail project but where Council and the State Government are busy pointing fingers at each other regarding who is responsible for ensuring people can safely reach the station.
They discussed banana bars (which are still everywhere in Tennyson), path maintenance (after fighting our way through some overhanging branches), bus stop advertising which blocks sight-lines, and the issue that the discretionary budget allocated to councillors for footpaths and parks in their ward is just not sufficient if no capital budget is allocated to urgent projects.
At the intersection of Sherwood Rd and Oxley Rd, Cr Nic explained that she is pushing for a scramble crossing during the morning peak when it’s very busy with school children and people accessing public transport. Currently, long wait times and vehicle turn phases that align with pedestrian signals make this the most dangerous intersection in Tennyson Ward.
Further along Sherwood Rd they discussed how the footpath simply disappears, so people wanting to walk or cycle to Oxley Creek Common, the Brisbane Markets, or across to Rocklea are left to wear a path along the grass verge. At Space4cyclingBNE we totally support calls for an east-west connection along Sherwood Rd connecting to Sherwood Station and Rocklea Station at either end.
On Thursday, Chris from West BUG met Kath Angus, Greens candidate for Lord Mayor and Charles Druckmannm, Greens for Pullenvale Ward for a ride around Kenmore and Chapel Hill.
Pullenvale is a very large ward and most of it is rural residential or bushland, but the eastern part is more densely built up and only 12km from the CBD so is an ideal base for cycling. However, it is hilly which made Charles somewhat reluctant to ride – until he tried Chris’s ebike!
They discussed the high quality bridges along Cubberla Creek built in the last couple of years, along with the Cubberla Creek Bikeway – the connections at and across Moggill Road being woefully inadequate. That’s something we know is addressed in the Moggill Road Corridor Planning Study which is why Brisbane West BUG are so keen to see the results of that study published. They also noted some obvious missing connections, and how priority at driveway crossings puts the onus on people walking, scooting or cycling, rather than the driver who, by law, must give way.
Charles is keen for another ride out in Bellbowrie before the March 28 election – and is dead keen on buying an ebike for himself now!
Later the same day, Chris and Kath also went for a spin around Indooroopilly with The Greens’ candidate for Walter Taylor Ward, Michaela Sargent
They rode to Indooroopilly State High School with its fantastic new building which includes an amazing secure and sheltered bike parking compound underneath, backing right on to a path to the gate. This path will connect to Indooroopilly Bikeway Stage 3, which will run along Lambert Road between Carawa Street and Indooroopilly Train Station. While construction of the Indooroopilly Riverwalk, which is stages 1 and 2, gets underway in March, we’re really keen to see planning and design work happen on this section to really encourage more high school students to ride.
Chris, Kath and Michaela also made their way down Clarence Road and Keating Street to look at the Moggill Road roundabout which is set to be replaced, and we’re hopeful quality cycling connections will be part of it. The environment is palpably hostile for anyone not in a car right now so it definitely needs to change.
While Chris was busy riding with candidates in the west, Belinda headed south for a coffee with Councillor Steve Griffiths in Moorooka (the suburb and the ward). Moorooka is a large and diverse ward, which includes an airport, interstate rail freight terminal, Brisbane markets, a university campus, and a hospital (plus the PA Hospital just over the ward boundary). It has low-lying areas which flood regularly, while other parts are very hilly. Toohey Forest Park is a really important habitat for koalas and other wildlife, while some of the creeks and drains through old industrial land are badly in need of restoration and regeneration. The ward has a lot of high impact industry, and a couple of significant waste disposal sites. The residential pockets are quite disparate; for example the community in Annerley doesn’t necessarily feel a strong connection to Acacia Ridge 12 km away, nor Durack to Tarragindi.
That poses some challenges for the local Councillor, and you can hear Steve’s frustration at how difficult it has been to get the most basic services like accessible footpaths; there’s not much left from the ward budget for parks and playgrounds, and it’s easy to understand why replacing banana bars is not high on his priority list. We did talk about a couple of recent council bikeway projects that have been very valuable; the Salisbury Bikeway Stage 1 (connecting Wincott St to the Lophestomen Track); and the upgrades to the path along Riawena Rd (which is also confusingly referred to as the Salisbury Bikeway).
The state government’s Ipswich Motorway Bikeway and future “Griffith Connector” will vastly improve connectivity in the area, as will upgrades to the stations at Rocklea and Moorooka as part of Cross River Rail. Brisbane City Council has earmarked the suburb of Moorooka as an upcoming urban renewal site, and their Oxley Creek Master Plan also offers opportunities for better connections.
Cr Griffiths point out that schools like Acacia Ridge State School and Watson Road State School have some of the highest rates of active travel of any in Brisbane – largely from necessity as many families in the area can’t afford a car, and certainly not a second one. At the same time, Watson Road past the school has 800 truck movements per day. Cr Griffith has requested a traffic review with the aim to restrict truck movements past the primary school.
One candidate who’s very familiar with his ward by bike is Rolf Kuelsen, Greens for Morningside. Rolf’s a regular on our Tuesday Slow Rolls; he has been involved with East BUG Inc. since the group started; and he can be spotted on his bike all over the neighbourhood.
On Friday morning Belinda joined Rolf for a coffee at his unofficial campaign office (The Dandelion Social cafe), where they started comparing notes on the least-worst way to get from Morningside to the Brisbane CBD, and then decided to do that instead of riding a loop of the local area. Taking Rolf’s preferred detour to avoid Wynnum Rd past Balmoral Cemetery (Lawson St, Riding Rd and Balmoral St), Rolf pulled out his secateurs to do some community service clearing the footpath on Balmoral St. We discussed our mutual hatred of the Hawthorne Rd intersection as we waited more than a complete cycle of the lights (which almost invariably happens). We took the Story Bridge and then the mayhem of Adelaide St to finally reach City Hall.
Cycling to the CBD from less than 5km away should not be this hard! We need more councillors who understand that, and will make the decisions to prioritise healthy transport instead of trying to “bust congestion” by building bigger roads!
While Council are spending $30 million on the Wynnum Road Stage 1B project (‘upgrading’ Wynnum Rd from Norman Creek to Riding Road), $0 is being spent upgrading the adjacent bikeway. Although promoted as a “commuter cycling corridor“, in reality it is nothing more than a bumpy, narrow, cluttered shared path. Take a look:
Also in Morningside Ward this week, Belinda dropped in to a community BBQ in Hawthorne Park, held by Councillor Kara Cook. They discussed pedestrian and cycle friendly treatment possibilities for a couple of notorious local roundabouts, and the terrible state of Lytton Road and the entrance to Colmslie Recreation Reserve. Cr Cook is nervous about getting back on a bike after a looong break, but is willing to give it a go at a quiet time.
It was interesting to hear another local resident who came to speak with Kara say:
“I want to talk about the speed limit on Oxford St. It should be 30kph. Most of the time the traffic can’t go above about 25 anyway, so there’s no reason not to make it safer all the time.”
Hear hear, we couldn’t agree more!
Across on the north side, despite the threat of rain on Sunday and not having ridden a bike in a very long time (decades!) Cr Tracy Davis went out and explored some of the McDowall Ward with Andrew from Brisbane North BUG. Riding along the bikeway she saw first hand some of the challenges of riding in Brisbane such as missing connections, banana bars, poor signage, and even found some old BAZ (bicycle awareness zone). Cr Davis enjoyed the ride and said she looks forward to riding around the area more.
Finally, on Thursday this week, the South East Brisbane Chamber of Commerce hosted a Meet the Candidates forum for the wards of Morningside and Doboy. Belinda went along to see what they had to say about active transport. She reflects in our latest blog post: it feels that we have well-meaning candidates prepared to personally work very hard, but still doing what urbanist Brett Toderian refers to as “doing the wrong thing better” or “trying to have your cake and eat it too”.
Streets for People
Slower streets are one of the simplest and cheapest ways to save lives. A 10 per cent reduction in average speeds reduces fatalities by 40 per cent. As this article in the Brisbane Times this week says, the global obsession with motor vehicles means about 500 children die in road crashes every day, and road trauma is the leading cause of death for young people aged five to 29. A lot of this happens in poorer countries, but Australia has too many roads where traffic is too fast. People walking, cycling, scooting – just getting where they need to go – will be safer if we join the worldwide drive for slower, more friendly streets. There’s no need to wait for more evidence – it’s already there.
Also, check out this video from Road Safety Authority Ireland:
“Where we get the speeds of vehicles down to 20 miles per hour, the number of casualties falls by 40%…. And it has the other bonus that more people start to walk and cycle.”
One quarter of people the UK now live in streets where the speed limit is 20mph, and it benefits all road users. Start by asking: who are our streets, cities and suburbs really for?
Kids like to ride to school. Older kids like the independence it brings, and most families want to be more active together. But our street environments too often make it really difficult. Bravo to all the families around Brisbane who make active travel part of their daily routine. But it shouldn’t require courage!
On March 28, let’s make sure we vote for council candidates who are genuinely committed to making streets for people, not treating people as an afterthought to be catered for only if there is time and space left over after prioritising the cars!
Speaking of prioritising cars ahead of people, here’s another one for the shame file: Getting across Wynnum Road from Morningside Railway Station using a signalised crossing requires a long detour and a minimum of two beg-and-wait crossings. It’s little wonder most people take advantage of the centre island to scurry across the 3 + 2 lanes of fast-moving traffic. But if you can’t or don’t want do that, and you make your way down to the intersection with Jack Flynn Memorial Drive, you’ll first have to cross a high-speed slip-lane then wait up to TWO full cycles of the lights on an exposed island in the middle of the road:
Imagine being in the centre cage when the impact occurred that left it crushed and crumpled like this.
How about, instead of a pen fencing people in, Council actually provided a safe and convenient way for them to cross the road?!
There seems to have been something of an epidemic of bike theft recently. Please lock you bike with a good lock, and make sure you have a photograph of your bike and record of the bike serial number, make and model. You can record your bike details via the West End Serial Hub and on the national site Bike Vault.
If your bike is stolen, please report it to police regardless of the value.
West End police have a collection of recovered bikes that they’d like to return to their owners. So if you believe your bike has been stolen between March 2019 and February 2020, please visit the West End Police Station next month and see if you can pick it from the line up. (You will need to produce suitable identification and proof of ownership of the bike.)
When: Saturday, March 21
Where: 6 / 305 Montague Road, West End
What time: Between 8am and 12pm