We had a busy week at the International Cycling Safety Conference, which was hosted by QUT and the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland (CARRS-Q). On Monday, we helped out with the technical tours for conference delegates (together with Bicycle Queensland, CARRS-Q and TMR), showing our interstate and international visitors some of Brisbane’s outstanding cycling infrastructure, and a few of the discontinuities and challenges. We were joined by representatives from SydneyCycleways, City of Parramatta, City of Greater Geelong, Bicycle NSW, Bicycle Network, We Ride Australia, and visitors from New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan, Ireland, the Netherlands and USA. It was great to be able to share experiences and lessons as we all work towards making our cities safer and friendlier for cycling.
Thanks Brisbane City Council for their support of the conference, Deputy Mayor Councillor Krista Adams for opening the program, and to major sponsor Department of Transport and Main Roads and Minister Mark Bailey MP for his welcome address and opening the conference dinner. As Minister Bailey says, we hope there will be a day soon where providing safe facilities for cycling is not at all controversial; support comes from all sides.
The conference wrapped up with People’s Night, which was a great opportunity for members of Brisbane’s broader cycling community to catch up with the conference speakers. It was great to see that the audience included council candidates from the Greens; Lord Mayoral candidate Kath Angus, Sally Dillon for Coorparoo, and Rolf Kuelsen for Morningside.
One of the conference exhibitors was Moon Deck Pty Ltd, talking about their glow-in-the-dark resin path coating. Belinda was excited to pick up some samples to test their capacity to improve paths like the one through Moorhen Flats, Woolloongabba (between Lerna St and Turbo Drive) which is acutely dark. The Moon Deck surface is suited for areas like this where it would be challenging to install traditional electric lighting, but where it’s too shady for solar panels to perform well. The surface doesn’t require direct sunlight during that day to glow at night. It also doesn’t appear to interfere with nocturnal wildlife (It doesn’t, however, fully light up path, so we’re not suggesting it’s suitable for all areas).
Brisbane City Council have been doing a trial of the Moon Deck surface at Rochedale, which we’ve written about previously. Unfortunately that’s not on a high-use cycling path, and potentially in an area where there is more overflow lighting than where this surface is most effective. We haven’t been able to check out how that’s going at night.
Howard Smith Wharves
Howard Smith Wharves was in the news again this week, thanks to our video of the chaos there last week. It’s good to see finally hear acknowledgement of the problems we’ve been highlighting from day 1. Fixing the path to nowhere will be a start. But more still needs to be done about the obstacle course the developers have created on a vital connection between New Farm and the CBD, via the $92 million Riverwalk. Cyclists are still riding through Howard Smith Wharves, despite all the efforts by the businesses to discourage them, because there is no other viable route. That is dangerous for people walking and people riding bicycles. We’re aware that someone was injured there this week, requiring an ambulance to attend.
What use are master-plans and planning approvals if at the end of the day, they can all just be waived aside in the pursuit of private profit? The operators of Howard Smith Wharves have been exposed as the cowboys of public space design. Brisbane City Council have so far proven too weak to call them out, while the Courier Mail have been publishing gushing advertorials, and the Planning Institute of Australia has bestowed farcical awards such as the Hard Won Victory (really!). So it was left up to us at Space4cyclingBNE to expose and push the issue of the footpath to nowhere (the Faux Path) which has now led to identification of other unauthorised construction and activity which is putting the public at risk.
Given the scale of the change of use Howard Smith Wharves have tried to sneak through, it is important that a proper public consultation process be followed if any of the unauthorised structures are to be allowed to remain.
Last weekend, Belinda caught up with Doboy Ward Councillor, Cr Lisa Atwood at a community BBQ in Hemmant. Even though it’s only 11km from the Brisbane CBD, Hemmant feels a bit out of the way. But it’s growing, with a number of pockets of new development. Many of the local roads – including those in and out of the suburb – don’t have footpaths or even sealed shoulders for cycling. It was good to hear locals already giving our usual talking points: let’s build paths and bike parking so that people can reach the train station and access nearby shops and services by walking and cycling rather than having to rely on going everywhere by car.
In constrast to Hemmant, which has very few paths, we were surprised this week to read that Council is about to begin construction on the Wishart Community Park Bikeway. While we don’t fault Council’s decision to create a new park at the end of Kavanagh Rd, we can’t quite see the strategic value of the new bikeway in Wishart. Of all the locations around Brisbane crying out for safe active transport connections, why is the priority to create a new 3m wide path in a location that doesn’t help link any previously disconnected communities? Why is it necessary to remove 10 existing trees to find a route for a pathway across this mostly empty block?? This looks suspiciously like an effort to soak up some of the much-touted $100 million bikeways budget on a project that will receive no objections because no-one really knows where it is.
Have your say
For those in the western suburbs, it’s really important to get along, as the proposed bridge at Bellbowrie is likely to be one of the most controversial. If you live in the Centenary area and you have some time available on Tuesday afternoon (November 26), head along to Mount Ommaney Library between 3.30 and 6.30pm to have a look at the plans and have your say. If you’re on the Moggill side, you can visit Bellbowrie Mobile Library on Thursday November 28 between 10am and 2pm.
We fully support the proposal for a bus, cycling and pedestrian bridge at Bellbowrie. The location might seem odd, but it presents the least disruption to already developed residential areas on both sides of the river, while still enabling high frequency, efficient bus services from Bellbowrie to Wacol or Darra train stations – opening the prospect of a 40-minute public transport commute to Brisbane, rather than anything up to 90 minutes on the 444 in peak hour along Moggill Road. And for the first time, a convenient public transport option to get to Ipswich.
For cycling, Council is planning connections north from the bridge to Sumners Road, east connecting to Wolston Road and the Darra Station Bikeway and Centenary Bikeway, and south east along Grindle Road to Wacol Station and the Ipswich Motorway Bikeway. We know that the only way to reduce congestion is to shift people from using their cars to using public and active transport. Green bridges are part of that solution. We need to support Council to achieve that.
If you can, get along and provide your support for this proposal. If you can’t attend either of these sessions, fill out the online survey, or email the project team. Also, make sure you let your local councillors, Cr Matthew Bourke (Jamboree) and Councillor Kate Richards (Pullenvale Ward) know you support a green bridge, and the first real investment in public transport in this part of the western suburbs since the establishment of the 444 BUZ.
A reminder that we do a Slow Roll around the CBD every Tuesday evening – leaving from King George Square, in front of City Hall at 6:30pm and finishing at The Milk Factory in South Brisbane around and hour later.
On Friday mornings, Extinction Rebellion SEQ host a Climate Ride, leaving from Kurilpa Park (at the South Brisbane side of the Kurilpa Bridge) at 7:30am. That one tends to get a bit of police attention, so if you’ve always wanted a police escort on your ride to work, you might enjoy it!
We have been asked why we help promote rides organised by Extinction Rebellion and the answer is simple: ‘Business as usual’ is choking our city with cars and causing “traffic chaos” twice a day. Not only are private motor vehicles a leading contributor to the environmental emissions that are causing global warming, but our reliance on them severely hampers Brisbane’s capacity to adapt to disruptive events like storms and floods, as well as crashes, power-outages, special events, etc. We believe it’s time to think differently about the use of public space and public funds. Rather than ‘business as usual’ in the form of increasingly expensive and futile attempts to make it easier for people to travel by car at the expense of the health, safety, and convenience of everyone else, we believe there’s a much better approach. The humble bicycle is a simple part of a solution to a complex problem. Your personal choice to ride a bike won’t change the world, but as part of a larger movement away from a reliance on cars, it can. Plus, of course, it’s healthy and fun.
A reminder that there is just one week left to sign two of our petitions to Council: One asking for a cycleway to the eastern suburbs, and another requesting that Council continue the North Brisbane Bikeway through to Eagle Junction (all the way to EJ!).
In other news
The value of trial installations of protected cycling infrastructure was raised many times during this week’s International Cycling Safety Conference. Temporary installations allow for an evaluation of new infrastructure; will it be welcomed and well used, or will fears of ensuing chaos prove well-founded?
In San Francisco this week, cyclists have been delighted to be able to cycle across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge on an active travel lane that has been created with a row of concrete barriers. Our money is on those predicting the lane will be incredibly popular with people wanting a healthy and environmentally friendly way to get to work, and to get around town on the weekends. But if, at the end of the trial, it hasn’t been popular, the barriers can simply be removed.
Speaking of trials of bikeways on bridges, we wish Council would do a test-run of a car-free Victoria Bridge. We’re confident it would prove very popular. Unfortunately it looks as though we still have a long wait for the Metro project, although there was an announcement this week on the vehicles. We’re happy that Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner has announced the new metro vehicles will be electric. Electric vehicles have no tail-pipe emissions and will hopefully soon be charged with renewable energy. Unlike electric cars, public transport is also efficient, and will relieve congestion. There are still some environmental disadvantages of running rubber tyres on the road rather than light rail, but in mixed spaces we can attest that not having to cross tram tracks is definitely a good thing when you’re riding a bike (or scooter). The low-floor vehicles, with 4-door boarding also sound great in terms of accessibility and short stopping times. In our submission we requested facilities to enable taking bicycles on board (with all the usual caveats about not compromising disabled accessibility or displacing other passengers when the service is busy), as is possible with some light rail and bus rapid transit systems in other cities. We’re yet to see if that will be included, but at least the vehicle type should make it feasible.
Finally, For your weekly dose of international bike infrastructure envy: check out these five bike tunnels in the Netherlands. Underpasses don’t offer a solution everywhere; they come with challenges. But if done well they can be great for cycling safety and connectivity.