25 Oct 2020

State Election Campaign

To mark National Ride 2 Work Day on Wednesday, Chris met Lawson McCane, Greens candidate for Moggill at the pre-poll voting centre in Bellbowrie for a ride to the edge of the Centenary Bikeway in Kenmore to give that real ride to work feeling.

Following notorious Moggill Road, but taking alternatives where they exist, Chris showed Lawson some options to provide a reasonable cycle route from Bellbowrie to Kenmore without waiting for a Moggill Road widening project costing hundreds of millions of dollars.

Chris spoke about the Moggill Road Planning Study which is sitting on a desk waiting to be delivered to make cycling safer and more appealing as a transport option from Kenmore. The importance of that was poignantly signified by the ghost bike memorial for Richard Pollett.

Lawson was especially impressed with the value of the ebike he used for the ride, which ate up the hills and left Chris rather breathless.

It’s not just the big parties involved this state election. Independent candidate for Miller, Edward Carroll took up the invitation we posted recently on Facebook, and this week he joined Chris for a ride around Oxley and Rocklea.

Edward used to ride a bicycle for transport for years, only getting a driver’s licence in his twenties – which is increasingly common. These days he still gets around on two wheels, but with a much more powerful motor than the fold up ebike Chris brought for the occasion.

Chris and Edward discussed the Oxley Creek Catchment Master Plan, and how an active transport route – The Greenway – from its northern point at Oxley Creek Common down to Larapinta would be a really valuable addition to the cycling network.

Starting at Oxley Common, they made their way down hostile Sherwood Road and Ipswich Road before joining the new Ipswich Motorway Bikeway. The underpass at Oxley Creek is yet to open, but we think it would be great for the Greenway to connect here.

Edward is very keen to see active transport investment increased to capitalise on the renewed interest in cycling we’ve seen in 2020.

North Brisbane Bikeway

We support businesses that support bikeways! Stage 4 of the North Brisbane Bikeway is really starting to take shape. It will provide a safe, separated cycle path right past The Chill Café on Dickson St Wooloowin, and café owner Carsten is looking forward to more people stopping by to enjoy a coffee or sit down for a delicious breakfast or lunch in the inviting garden setting. In fact he’s looking to expand.

While the tabloid newspaper ran a series of articles this week focusing on imagined negatives, studies repeated again and again in cities around the world show that replacing on-street parking with protected bike lanes is good news for local business, and for local neighbourhoods. Here’s a good summary.

The tabloid media followed up with another negative piece on the North Brisbane Bikeway on Tuesday – full of tired clichés about the “lycra lobby” and “leafy suburbs“. We think people are smarter than that. A report from NSW discusses the downsides of decades of suburbanising our walking and tram-based inner-city structures with an overlay of motorways and main roads, supermarkets, mandatory on-site car parking, and reduced rights for people walking and riding bicycles. But the pandemic experience has led many more people to question: what is the quality of life we want in our neighbourhoods? Here’s a good read on the topic from someone who isn’t a “Business Reporter”.

Research has demonstrated the language used in the media influences how we treat others on the roads – with language that dehumanises other road users, often cyclists, predicting aggression and violence between road users. Those who cycle regularly will tell you they wince when they see the latest article or TV programme about so-called “lycra louts”.

It was sad to see another attack-piece in the state daily tabloid using that exact term. We know this is not driven by local residents, or by local businesses, but about generating outrage to bolster a ‘news’ organisation with falling circulation as people wake up to attempts like this to divide the community and stir up hate based on misinformation and negative stereotypes. We recommend that you don’t read it, don’t share it, and don’t react to it. Maybe read this instead.

But let’s not just ignore this anti-bikeway propaganda push. Let’s take it as a call to action. First, a call out to people who live in the Clayfield electorate:

This week, we have seen the daily tabloid newspaper launch an extraordinary attack on the North Brisbane Bikeway and on people who ride bikes. They seem intent on generating opposition to the important next stage of the bikeway, preventing it connecting through to the Kedron Brook Bikeway and the network of cycleways to the north. It’s fairly transparent that this is not just a campaign in opposition to one particular bikeway, but an attempt at “othering” people who ride bikes, and delegitimising healthy transport.

Please get in touch with the candidates in Clayfield and ask if they will speak out against the characterisation of you and your family and neighbours as “louts“. Let them know that you support local jobs and local businesses, and tell them how important it is to you—even if you don’t ride yourself—that there are safe facilities for people to reach education, employment, and social and recreational facilities without having to rely on driving, and without contributing to congestion and parked-out local streets.

Right now, the candidates are easy to find: we almost guarantee you can find them at one of the prepoll booths. If they’re not there when you visit, ask their campaign volunteers when they’ll be back. Tell them you want to know their position before you vote, and ask if they’re happy to have that on record. Clayfield is quite a marginal seat, and you can send the candidates a clear message that you want a representative who will stand up for their community, and work constructively with those residents and businesses who are concerned about changes to traffic and parking, rather than flaming their fears through divisive rhetoric.

Tim Nicholls MP (LNP) is the sitting member for Clayfield. We understand that Tim is generally supportive of bikeways. We would be surprised to hear that he opposed one which brings so many benefits to his local constituents, and was so strongly supported in response to a survey conducted by his office back in 2018. Please ask Tim to state his commitment to continuing the North Brisbane Bikeway all the way to Eagle Junction.

Andrew Bartlett, Greens candidate Clayfield attended consultation sessions on Stage 4 of the North Brisbane Bikeway 2 years ago as a local resident. Andrew has previously ridden with Airport BUG out to Brisbane Airport, and admitted that he’s someone who would like to ride more but is really put off each time there’s an inflammatory piece in the media about cyclists.

Labor‘s candidate, Philip Anthony is one of the many people who started cycling again earlier this year during the COVID lockdown. He has been enjoying exploring the local bikeways with his son; there’s nothing like cycling with children to highlight the value of safe connections. We know Philip is a big supporter of the state government’s North Brisbane Bikeway, but we don’t want the state to walk away at Price St. Ask about Labor’s commitment to work constructively with Council to keep the bikeway heading north.

Similarly, if you live in the Nudgee electorate, and would love to have a safe, separate cycle route towards the RBWH and the CBD, now is the time get out and engage with the candidates standing for election in your area, and ask for their commitment to continuing the North Brisbane Bikeway. Perhaps you’d like the option of a low-stress ride to work, or to feel comfortable taking family excursions by bike? Maybe you can just see the sense in connecting the Gateway North, Jim Soorley, and Kedron Brook Bikeways to the inner northern suburbs.

Right now, the state’s main tabloid newspaper is running a bizarre campaign in opposition to the North Brisbane Bikeway, and characterising people like you as “lycra louts” and bullies. With less than a week to go before the State Election, we’re suggesting people drop in at one of the pre-poll booths to meet the local candidates and ask them how they respond to that; do they support healthy transport options, and will they advocate strongly for bikeway connections that will benefit the community they are asking to represent?

We already know that Greens candidate for Nudgee, Jim Davies is a big supporter – he even campaigns by bike, and has organised clean-up crews to pick up rubbish along the bikeway past Toombul.

But we’d like to hear more from Labor’s Leanne Linard MP, and Ryan Shaw, the LNP candidate. Will they speak out against the sort of divisive nonsense peddled in the media this week, and will they champion local jobs and healthy connected communities?

Pre-poll booths are each day this week. That’s where you’re likely to find the candidates – or people who know when they’ll be back. Please let us know what they have to say!

Active travel to school

We know that the school run is one of the major contributors to traffic congestion, and one of the major contributors to streets feeling unsafe for cycling and walking.

It wasn’t always like this, and we can return to a culture where more people walk, ride or catch the bus to school. But to achieve it we need our transport authorities to stop prioritising cars in their decision making.

“The good news is that transport planners are increasingly seeing streets as places for walking or riding bikes, and pedestrians and cyclists as more than just safety risks to be mitigated.”

Alison Bunbury

Have a read of this great article by transport planner and parent Alison Bunbury, covering the issue of the school run, including some of the often quoted and misunderstood legal issues around children travelling independently (hint: in most cases, it is not illegal).

Council – Victoria Bridge

Council was back in session this week, starting with committee meetings in the morning, and followed by the main meeting from 2pm. In a small win for transparency, the agendas for these meetings are now published online on Council’s website a day ahead.

The main topic for this week’s Public and Active Transport Committee was an update on the Brisbane Metro project. We were a little disappointed not to hear a timeline for converting Victoria Bridge to a green bridge—including the separated cycleway we’ve been advocating for four years. We think the downstream side of the Victoria Bridge offers the best options for cycling connections at South Brisbane, South Bank, Queens Wharf Road, and William St to the new CityLink Cycleway planned for Elizabeth St.

Here’s a look back over some of the twists and turns this idea had already taken by early 2018. Will Victoria Bridge finally turn green in 2020??

Incident on the Jack Pesch Bridge

We were sad to hear that a recent collision between a person on a bicycle, and someone walking on the Jack Pesch Bridge at Indooroopilly resulted in injuries to an elderly gentleman—who we understand to be the walker. We don’t know if the cyclist was also hurt.

The incident was reported this week in the Courier Mail. We don’t subscribe to, or support Murdoch publications (which is not a reflection on the professionalism of individual local journalists), but we understand from the headline that there have been calls to limit the speed on the bridge to 10kph. At 4m, the Jack Pesch Bridge is actually wider than most shared paths around Brisbane, but trying to define separate space for people walking and cycling would be difficult. We continue to advocate for separated facilities where space allows and usage levels support that according to the AustRoads standards.

In the meantime, we remind everyone of their obligation to give way to pedestrians when cycling (including giving a warning when approaching from behind, and waiting to overtake until there is sufficient room), and to keep left and not unreasonably obstruct the path when walking. Here’s a good reminder of how that works from a legal perspective.

In Council’s meeting on Tuesday, Cr James Mackay asked about the incident It was interesting that Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner‘s priority is for State Government to address the issue by setting and enforcing speed limits on Council’s shared paths. We’re not sure that would be the most effective approach, but we do welcome this new level of commitment to identifying and addressing the causes of injuries to vulnerable road users.

For too long, a level of road trauma has been treated as an acceptable “toll” in the interests of saving a few seconds for motorists. But we’ve seen that this can be turned around; cities like Helsinki and Oslo have successfully cut pedestrian deaths to zero by reducing speed limits, changing street designs, removing space for cars and generally made life harder for people driving—but better everyone outside a car. Some of these measures are likely to be controversial at first, but with an overwhelming majority of seats in Council, Brisbane’s Lord Mayor is in a good position to provide the necessary leadership to achieve similar outcomes in our city.

Viola Place connection update

It’s almost that time of year again… As Brenda Bones prepares to get back on her bike for Halloween, she has logged on to Brisbane City Council‘s website to check if she’ll be able to get from Brisbane Airport to the Gateway Bridge Bikeway via the Viola Place connection. Oops, it looks like the website hasn’t been updated this year either… Brenda’s hoping this is just an oversight. She and her friends at Airport BUG were hoping to learn more when Council’s committee meetings restarted this week, but so far the message remains the same as it did four years ago: Council is negotiating with the landholder…

Brenda Bones is keen to go Trick or Treating on Saturday with her new crush, the debonair Mr Digby Graves. But Brenda can’t get through the gate at the end of Viola Place, while Digby has been left out to dry at Schneider Road.

Only a few hundred meters separate them, but a decade after the Gateway Bridge Bikeway first opened, and four years after Council first told Airport BUG that this missing piece of the Moreton Bay Cycleway was “in design phase” and they were “negotiating with the land-holder” (which is a company 100% controlled by Brisbane City Council), Brenda and Digby just want to be able to get together, buy a plot of land in the suburbs with a nice tombstone, and grow pumpkins.

New Farm Park

New Farm Park is looking amazing at the moment. But we think it’s sad that some of the best spaces to have a picnic in the shade, to enjoy an evening walk or morning jog, or to teach your kids to ride a bike, are instead filled with cars. The speed limit on the ring road is 10kph, but if you’ve tried to walk, jog, or ride slowly around there, you’ve probably experienced an aggressive over-taking manoeuvre by an impatient driver. We fear this is only going to get worse under Council’s plans for New Farm Park to become the entry to the Powerhouse car park.

In fact we think New Farm Park would be better if it was free of cars entirely. Issues with poor-frequency public transport (especially on weekends) or neighbourhoods which lack access to nice parks within walking and cycling distance should be addressed on their own merits, rather than used to justify filling New Farm Park with cars.

If you agree with our calls for a car-free New Farm Park, please add your name to this petition.