27 Sep 2020

State Election Campaign

Chris was on ABC Brisbane radio this week talking about our bike rides with candidates for the state election. (You can listen here from 1:41:40). We have more rides arranged over coming weeks to show our aspiring community representatives how convenient and fun it can be to get around their electorate by bike – and where some state government investment would make a big difference

Jonty Bush, Labor‘s candidate for Cooper enjoyed her ride with Stephen from Brisbane North BUG during the recent council election campaign, and didn’t take much convincing to head out again – this time joined as well by Chris from Brisbane West BUG. Starting in Bardon at Norm Buchan Park, they made their way through Rosalie and Milton to the Bicentennial Bikeway, which already had seen an impressive 2400+ cyclists by mid-afternoon.

Stephen spoke to Jonty about the “no excuse zone”, where any destination within about 7km should be reachable by bike. When you listen closely to objections about hills, time and distance, what people are usually describing is actually poor infrastructure. A case in point: It’s only about 4km from Norm Buchan Park to the CBD and mostly flat, making it well and truly in that range, but while parts of Baroona Road are only 40km/hr, the squeeze between parked and moving traffic is still not going to entice people who are interested but not “avid”.

From Milton it was up past Suncorp Stadium and Paddington, and the many For Lease signs. We know that making streets more appealing for cycling is good for business – and the sight of a cargo bike outside a café on Latrobe Terrace demonstrated there’s already demand. Even though these streets are council responsibility, we think there’s a great opportunity for the state government to include measures into planning regulations to provide the basis to make it happen and empower councils to be brave and bold in street design.

Bicentennial Bikeway

If you use the Bicentennial Bikeway past North Quay, you’ll see that work has now started on the section in front of the ferry terminal as part of the Queen’s Wharf Brisbane development. Unfortunately that means one section of the path which was comfortably wide and had separated space for pedestrians and cyclists is now reduced to a 3m shared path – and will be until late 2021.

This is a busy area, with a lot of people crossing to reach the ferry terminal. Reduced space means reduced visibility so please slow down and take care. We’re happy that at least some of the bunting which was originally installed was quickly rolled back to improve site lines at the ferry terminal crossing – perhaps in response to our raising the issue on social media.

Around the suburbs

There was some good news from Jonathan Sri, Councillor for The Gabba on Stanley St this week. Thanks to pressure from his office (and from us) the footpath opposite the Gabba Stadium is now open again, and Council are drafting firmer criteria about when footpaths can be closed for construction work.

The bike counter on Lytton Rd, East Brisbane was finally switched on on Wednesday. By 1:20pm Thursday afternoon, it had recorded 320 passing bikes for the day. An hour later, the count on the North Brisbane Bikeway at Wooloowin was at a similar level. We suspect that usage on both routes is down at the moment during school holidays and with many people still working from home. We also expect the count on the North Brisbane Bikeway to jump substantially when stage 4 (about to begin) gets through the worst section of Dickson St, and again when stage 5 finally connects to the Kedron Brook, Jim Soorley, Gateway North, and Airport bikeways. But residents in the eastern suburbs who make do with the sketchy infrastructure just 2km from the CBD – or who don’t ride because of it – can be excused for feeling short-changed.

When they spotted a bridge for sale on on the Pickles Auction site, EaST BUG wondered if they should crowd-fund it for a walking and cycling bridge across Perrin Creek at Morningside – either adjacent to the bridge on Lytton Rd, or to link up Beelarong St behind the tennis centre? Council doesn’t seem interested in creating active transport connections in that area.

On the north side: When bikeway plans propose to close local streets to through traffic, there are always some commentators who complain that residents will be horribly disadvantaged. The reality is that most people want less rat-running traffic on their street. Property values tend to be higher in cul de sacs, and people don’t want to leave. When the State Government proposed that the North Brisbane Bikeway close one end of Fraser St, Wooloowin, Brisbane City Council feared that residents would oppose it. Anecdotally, the opposite was true; not only did Fraser St residents support the proposal, but residents of nearby streets wanted theirs cul de sacked too. (Editor: yes, made up word.)

We think the last word on Fraser St should go to these future town planners who appreciate the value of a car-free (or at least car-lite) street!

The Great Brisbane Bike Shortage

On ABC Radio on Tuesday, Rebecca Levingston had a segment on The Great Brisbane Bike Shortage – speaking to one local bike shop owner who sold 7 months worth of bikes in 7 weeks, and predicts that stocks will be low until well into next year. (No, it’s not unique to Brisbane)

We wonder: should Queensland be investing in local bike manufacturing to support local employment and build capability as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic?

Rolf Kuelsen, the Greens candidate for Bulimba has pointed out that the Federal and State Governments are subsiding the establishment of a munitions factory in Maryborough (to the tune of $17million) in the name of job creation. If we can pour money into weapons of war, why not into nurturing a local bicycle industry that will make lives better?

Other News

Good on the City of Sydney for sticking with their pop-up protected cycleways, and working to fix the safety issues rather than just abandoning people who want to be able to take a healthy travel option. We wonder if there was an equivalent safety audit done for cycling on Bridge Road, Glebe before the protected bike lane was installed? We suspect that issues such as drivers cutting off cyclists or failing to give way when turning out of side-streets are not new, and not caused by the bikeway.

Reallocating street space will always be controversial with some people – particularly where residents or business owners are used to parking on the street in front of their property and resent any change to that convenience. But thousands more people are waking up to the benefits of active transport. Successful cities of the future will be those providing protected space for people to get around using healthy, quiet, pollution-free, light-weight vehicles,