26 April 2020

National campaign for #SpaceForHealth


This week, over 100 Australian health and transport experts signed an open letter calling on decision makers to enact urgent measures to support safe walking and cycling and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s a link to the media release by Australia’s national cycling lobby group We Ride Australia.

The need for social distancing isn’t going away in a hurry, so we need more space for walking and cycling, not just for exercise, but so we can start to reopen the economy safely. Simple changes like automated pedestrian crossings, popup bike lanes, lower speed limits and car free streets can make a huge difference to the feeling of comfort while you’re out exercising. Check out this video Brisbane West BUG put together to illustrate:

Cities around the world are doing it! Paris is the latest global city to roll out emergency bike lanes for the use of key workers and others during the lockdown. 650 kilometers of cycleways—including a number of pop-up “corona cycleways”—will be readied for May 11 when lockdown is eased in France. You read that correctly: 650 kilometers! By 11 May 2020.

In Australia, Brisbane City Council is uniquely placed to act quickly, because the City of Brisbane Act 2010 confers them control of roads—including the power to close roads or restrict access in the interests of public safety such as the current declared health emergency. We can lead Australia in the provision of #SpaceForHealth and #HealthyStreets.


Brisbane people are already speaking with their feet and their wheels, so if you are heading out for a bike ride this afternoon or on the weekend, chances are you’ll have company. Lots of it! Paths around Brisbane are bursting with people out walking, jogging, and cycling, which is great to see. This is the Norman Creek Bikeway though Hanlon Park in Stones Corner in the late afternoon:

Bicycle Queensland are looking to gather data and make contact with new and returning riders via their survey, and you can also help get the message across by adding your voice to the national campaign by signing this petition.

Disturbingly, two cyclist were taken to hospital by paramedics after collisions with motor vehicles this week; at Manly West on Friday, and on Stanley St, East Brisbane (where we have previously petitioned for a separated cycleway) on Thursday. We would hate to see the surge in bike riding translate into a surge in injuries from collisions with vehicles. With lower motor traffic volumes and reports of more drivers speeding we need Brisbane City Council to reallocate road space now to keep people safe!

The health risks from motor vehicle traffic aren’t just about collisions either, research reported in the New Your Times found:

… if Manhattan had lowered its average particulate matter level by just a single unit, or one microgram per cubic meter, over the past 20 years, the borough would most likely have seen 248 fewer Covid-19 deaths by this point in the outbreak.

Cutting pollution can literally save lives! Now is a great time to invest in low emissions transport, like cycling; not just for the sake of this pandemic, but to protect our city from future incidents.

Just a reminder: this is how easy it is if the political will exists; new protected bikelanes in Berlin have been installed almost overnight:

Meanwhile, city leaders in Milan, Italy have recognised that

“if everyone drives a car, there is no space for people, there is no space to move, there is no space for commercial activities outside the shops.”

They are using the shutdown from the coronavirus tragedy as an opportunity to take a fresh look at their streets and reopen the economy without the congestion and air pollution they previously suffered from. Their plan involves rolling out a network of 35km of bike lanes and expanded footpaths, reducing speed limits to 30kph, and creating pedestrian and cycle priority streets.

We need Brisbane’s leaders to take similar bold steps to create a healthy, thriving city!

And of course it’s not just about health and the economy; cycling also brings joy! Soon enough facilities like these netball courts in Coorparoo will go back to what they were built for—organised sport. But what about space and time to play? We don’t want to see more expanses of concrete and asphalt, but what if people could use the smooth paved surface right near their home??

Let’s create #HealthyStreets !

Brisbane City Council returns

The new Brisbane City Council was sworn in on Tuesday for their four-year term. We can’t attend Council meetings in person at the moment, but we did tune in to listen to the first meeting, which was conducted via Zoom. We congratulate returned Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner, Deputy Mayor Cr Krista Adams, and Council Chairman Cr Andrew Wines on their official appointments.


Council’s various committees were also appointed during the meeting. The Public and Active Transport Committee now includes Cr Ryan Murphy (Chair), Cr Angela Owen (Deputy), Cr Steven Huang, Cr Greg Adermann, Cr Jared Cassidy (Shadow Chair), and Cr Jonathan Sri. We note with some concern that Cr Sri is the only member of that committee who regularly rides a bike, and who represents a ward in the inner-city (where space is most constrained, and where much of the traffic⁠—of all modes⁠—consists of people travelling from outside the ward).

Council’s ordinary meetings, and committee meetings will commence back on Tuesday 5 May. We’re hoping that committee meetings will be streamed online so that we can continue to attend as observers as we have previously done in person.

It is a little disappointing that once again, meetings of the Public and Active Transport Committee will clash with the Infrastructure Committee (from 9:15 to 9:45am on Tuesday mornings). As Cr Sri highlighted today, too often in the past we have seen projects like major intersection and road corridor “upgrades” decided and funded on the basis of motor vehicle traffic alone, with people cycling and walking (including to access public transport) treated as an afterthought or not at all. Hopefully Infrastructure Chairman Cr David McLachlan and Cr Murphy can work together to ensure a more balanced approach moving forward.

Opposition Leader in Council, Cr Jared Cassidy said it well in his opening address:

Brisbane residents “want more encouragement to get out of their cars and on their bikes. Multimillion-dollar bikeways are to be applauded but they mustn’t come at the expense of the small suburban projects, the missing links that mean the difference between taking the car or leaving it in the garage. We have a once in lifetime opportunity to start work on this right now like cities all around the world are doing during the Coronavirus lock down.”


Cycling is providing a critical lifeline to many cities during a critical time. But it’s also a resilient mode of transport that can continue to provide valuable benefits to cities in the future, too — benefits that go beyond mobility. Better bike accessibility can support economic recovery after COVID-19, improve public health and quality of life, and help cities become more resilient to future shocks. Right now our newly (re)elected council are putting together their budget and plan for 2020-21 and beyond. We need to ensure it has plenty of space for cycling!

Local News

Now is not a great time for the bike lanes on Gladstone Rd at Dutton Park to be closed, squeezing riders on the popular “River Loop” into fast-moving traffic—just when there are a lot of new riders out and about. We understand this work near the intersection with TJ Doyle Memorial Drive involves reconfiguring the intersection and adding a bus pull-in bay to improve access to the new high school. Surely this is a case where one of the main traffic lanes could be barricaded off for bikes only during this work?

On a brighter note, we don’t know who the sign-writer is for the temporary diversion of the Centenary Cycleway during the Sumners Rd project, but we’re fans of their work! Not only are they good at drawing bicycles (go on, have a go without looking – it’s quite tricky), they’ve even remembered to equip them appropriately. 🚲🌷🌹🌼❤️

So, what to the numbers tell us about who’s riding in Brisbane? A tour of Brisbane bicycle counters on Thursday evening this week reveals:

  • Traffic has been flowing all day on the Kingsford Smith Drive Bikeway, but there’s been a huge jump in pedestrian numbers since the COVID-19 restrictions came into force.
  • LandBridgeCounterCOVIDAs usual, the Bicentennial Bikeway is leading the cycling numbers (which have hardly dropped, even with fewer workers in the CBD), and also has a high pedestrian count.
  • The bike count on the GoBetween Bridge is similarly steady.
  • The Land Bridge to Victoria Park is mainly a cycle commuting route, so the bike count there is likely suppressed at the moment. Meanwhile, the pedestrian counter seems to be registering seconds rather than people passing, so it’s going nuts!
  • The Gabba Bikeway count on Stanley St is down by about 30%, as you might expect without the the usual university cohort.

LyttonRdcounterThere’s still no action from the counters on Annerley Rd, Little Dock St, Bridge St Wooloowin, but we’re looking forward to them coming online. Meanwhile, a new counter has been spotted on Lytton Rd, East Brisbane ((just before it squeezes back into a shared footpath after the bus stop – but that’s another story).

Speaking of Lytton Rd, East Brisbane, EaST BUG this week reported even more exciting news after spotting some very promising pavements markings… Is council finally about to take action to fix the terrible surface on the shared path on Canning Bridge (over Norman Creek)?

Howard Smith Wharves ferry terminal

HSWferryDAnoticeMeanwhile, somewhat under the radar, submissions closed this week on Council’s plans for a new ferry terminal at Howard Smith Wharves. While we welcome additional public transport infrastructure, we have serious misgivings about the placement of this new terminal in the context of the surrounding development. (You can check out the details of the plans, and the public submissions on PDOnline for A005352537 ).

As we’ve written about previously, the Howard Smith Wharves development has already compromised access between the CBD and New Farm along the river due to poor design. We have previously noted crowding and difficulties with trucks, cars, pedestrians and people on bikes in this increasingly narrow and cluttered space. The new terminal will be in a position that is difficult for people to easily access from destinations other than the bars, restaurants and function venues in the immediate vicinity. In addition, Council removed the footpath along Boundary St,despite there being a clear desire line for people walking to and from the CBD.

HSWboundaryRdWe believe there should be no investment of public funds in a terminal for what is effectively the exclusive use of patrons of a private business. At least not until access for nearby residents and people accessing the CBD and The Valley is resolved.

We also note that a key criteria in the master plan for the old wharves precinct was that the development activate the river-front. The concrete terraces down to the river were featured as attractive public space where people could enjoy the views of the Brisbane River and Story Bridge. Now that view will be obstructed by the ferry terminal in the one section of the riverside that has not been turned into an outdoor bar area or regularly closed off for private functions.

There is currently a petition to council to extend the river walk past Howard Smith Wharves bypassing the constricted paths. Perhaps this could be an opportunity to both extend the river walk and combine a ferry terminal at the same time?