27 Dec 2020

Happy Christmas

After a tough year, we hope everyone had a chance to find some peace and happiness this Christmas. We know it can be tough time for those who are missing loved ones, or feeling lonely. We wish you all the best for a safe and healthy New Year.

Thanks to everyone who is working over the festive season: we thank you and we appreciate you.

CityLink Stage 1 along Elizabeth Street unfortunately wasn’t quite ready for Christmas, but Brisbane City Council has released plans for the next stage: the separated cycleway on Victoria Bridge (yay!) and a connection on William St.

A dedicated, two-way cycleway on the downstream side of the Victoria Bridge is very welcome; it will provide access to Stanley Street and the Cultural Centre Tunnel, and continue along Melbourne St to Grey Street. On the CBD side of the river, a shared path along William Street is proposed, with a 2-stage crossing at the corner of Elizabeth Street and William Street.

The connection to the Bicentennial Bikeway will still be awkward until Queens Wharf Rd reopens though. Our best suggestion in the meantime is to use the elevator at North Quay, although one of our Facebook followers pointed out that it is possible – if you’re keen – to access the footpath on Queens Wharf Rd again now.

North Brisbane Bikeway

So close… Stage 4 of the North Brisbane Bikeway in Wooloowin was unfortunately not quite ready for Christmas. But there was another small section opened opposite the train station, and we understand the whole stage will be completed by the end of January. It’s looking awesome!

SE Freeway Shared Path

This path was ready for Christmas: the SE Freeway path at Annerley is open again! It’s now 3m wide, smooth, and well lit. Connecting the Tarragindi Bikeway (Southern Bikeway) to the Norman Creek Bikeway and to the Veloway, this is an important local connection which is well used by commuters and recreational riders, as well as people walking, running, and exercising their dogs.

A few little things

The Christmas holidays are a good time to get out on the bike and try some different paths. We’ve noticed a few small but welcome improvements in our travels. EaST BUG report from Stones Corner that the banana bars at the end of Panitya St (on the path through to the Norman Creek Bikeway) have been replaced by bollards, and the banana bars have also been removed at Main Ave where there’s now a new ramp so you can transition from the Norman Creek Bikeway to the on-road bike lane on Main Ave / Deshon St. That’s a small thing, but can make the trip by bike a whole lot more practical.

We’ve also notice some much needed repairs to the very badly cracked sections of bikeway through Woolloongabba Rotary Park, on the Salisbury Bikeway though Fauna Parade Park at Rocklea, and on the path past St Lucia Golf Course.

Farewell CityCycle

While we’re a little sad to see the end of CityCycles in Brisbane, we think it’s fair to say the world has moved on in the last 10 years since they were introduced. We’re looking forward to the introduction of an e-bike fleet with more flexibility, more coverage, and some assistance to cope with Brisbane’s hills and humidity.

It’s a shame to see the CityCycle scheme characterised as “failed” though. Once some of the obvious flaws in the registration and payments system were resolved, usage of the bikes started to take off in those areas where there were safe bikeways. But that was just before e-scooters arrived on the scene. The scooters were easier to find, easier to hire, easier to manoeuvre on the footpath, and could be left right at your destination. We think e-bikes will reclaim some of that “market share” when people realise that bikes are safer, smoother, and more comfortable – especially if carrying a few items. Mandatory helmet laws will remain something of a deterrent to both scooters and bike trips, but the key determinant is whether people feel safe from motor vehicle traffic.

It is disappointing to hear that the contract with JC Decaux will still allow them the huge advertising pillars which clutter up precious public space on the footpaths. Here’s a thought: that “street furniture” should be moved onto the road to create barriers to protect people on bikes from cars. If that advertising real-estate was to be monetised perhaps we might start seeing cycleways pop up everywhere??

Main St, Kangaroo Point

Upgrading the footpath along Main St, Kangaroo Point was one of four projects Brisbane City Council nominated for funding under the Queensland Government’s COVID Works for Queensland recovery stimulus program. While the Federal Government funded work to add an extra turning lane to the intersection of Main St and River Terrace, that apparently didn’t include scope to improve the footpath – hence the top-up.

Anyway, the result is underwhelming. At 2.5m (mostly), the new footpath is slightly wider than what was there previously, but it doesn’t meet the AustRoads standards and it’s hard to see how it can be widened in future to cater for extra demand when the new green bridge is constructed nearby.

While other cities have been rapidly rolling out tens of kilometres of new protected cycleways in response to the explosion in walking and cycling during the pandemic, this is so far all Brisbane has to show.

Looking ahead

As we head into the new year, it’s time to think about where we’re headed. This article is a good read, arguing that we should design cities for shorter distances, not faster speeds.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and recession will not last forever—and once they’re over, it’s reasonable to expect that congestion will return. When that happens, we must resist the urge to keep trying to “solve” congestion. Instead, let’s address the inequities that existed before COVID-19. Connecting people to opportunity, reducing our fossil fuel use, and saving everyone money are benefits too good to ignore.”

In the US, Jersey City has shown the way this year. They didn’t just come up with a cycling masterplan – they built it! Amidst the upheaval of COVID-19, Jersey City rolled out 10 miles of protected cycleways in just over a year, using a quick-build approach with cheap and flexible materials. Check out how they turned an existing door-zone bikelane into the buffer space, protecting people on bikes from cars: