Monday was an exciting day in the western suburbs, with construction starting on the $80million Sumners Road Interchange Upgrade project. While this is primarily about improving the traffic flow for motor vehicles at this major interchange on the Centenary Motorway, there are huge wins for people cycling and walking thanks to the advocacy and lobbying of Brisbane West BUG and the Jamboree Residents Association, and championed by Jess Pugh MP for Mount Ommaney. These include:
- a 45m long, 4m wide and 4m high cycle underpass beneath the western intersection ensuring an uninterrupted trip along the Centenary Bikeway from Darra to Mount Ommaney.
- On road bike lanes across the two new bridges for the more fearless cyclists.
- A new 3.5m wide shared path on the southern side of the bridges for ages 8 to 80 to connect east-west between Darra and Jamboree Heights.
Very early in planning for this project, we were told we had no chance of an outcome like this, but this is what persistent advocacy can achieve. Check out the spectacular fly through. Chris’ hard work was recognised with a turn on the ceremonial shovel, and a speaking part on the 7 News segment.
Things were less rosy in the eastern suburbs, where EaST BUG members who have been battling their way though the mess of the Wynnum Road stage 1b works were stunned to notice what appear to be on-street parking bays marked on Lytton Rd, just west of Canning Bridge.
This is in a location where the new “shared path” is less than 2.0m wide. That does not meet the standards for a 2-way shared path in any location, let alone on a primary cycle route which Brisbane City Council themselves promote as the “key commuter cycling route” to the eastern suburbs. Just east of here, Council have repeatedly refused to resurface the bumpy and dangerous footpath across the bridge, ruling that “out of scope” of the $115 million road widening project. We’re left wondering: How can there be “no room” for a minimal width footpath and bikeway, and “no budget” for resurfacing the dangerously bumpy existing path, while there is apparently space and budget for on-road car storage??
On our latest blog post, we look at the plans for a new Bunnings Warehouse which has recently been approved for 73 Ipswich Rd, Woolloongabba. That shows a new painted bike lane along the front of the property. Nice. Or is it?? On closer inspection, the bike lane would not only be extremely uncomfortable, it’s virtually unreachable. Meanwhile, the plans show worsening conditions across the road, no bike parking, no improvements to pedestrian access, and no sign of the existing bus stop! We’re with Jonathan Sri, Councillor for The Gabba on this: it’s a woefully car-centric plan for a site in the midst of high-density Woolloongabba. Brisbane deserves better!
On a brighter note, we showed our social media followers progress on the rejuvenated section of the Bicentennial Bikeway past the QUT ferry terminal. This will be delineated into a 3m cycleway (on the city side), and a 2m footpath (closest to the river). We like the look of the patterned paving highlighting the crossing point.
Another highlight of the week: we were thrilled to discover on Friday evening that the path behind the Grammar Schools is now open again, and it has lights! Woohoo!! It has been four years since we petitioned for lighting on this path, and it is a relief that it has finally been completed.
We were also happy to report some good progress on the much anticipated North Brisbane Bikeway, with construction photos of the new protected bike lane along Mawarra St, Wooloowin. Meanwhile the first of the priority crossings for the bikeway along McDonald Rd (at Bowen St) looks to be almost complete. Soon you will be able to ride from the CBD to Wooloowin on a safe and comfortable bike route, suitable for people of all ages and abilities. (Don’t forget to sign our petition to continue the bikeway north to Eagle Junction to connect with the Kedron Brook Bikeway at Jackson St. All the way to EJ!)
Speaking with the decision makers
As an advocacy group, we’re determined to get into the ears of our city’s decision makers. Belinda from East BUG Inc. had a busy morning on Saturday advocating for better bikeways on the east side.
First stop was catching up with Member for Greenslopes, Joe Kelly MP at his mobile office in Norman Park, along with Labor’s council candidate for Coorparoo Ward, Matt Campbell. Belinda wasn’t the only person to arrive by bike and advocate for slower speeds and less through traffic on neighbourhood streets! It was a good chance to catch on the latest progress with the SE Veloway, and the next steps—including at O’Keefe St and Birdwood Rd. We’re also keen to see how cycling conditions can be improved on Old Cleveland Rd as part of the state government’s Eastern Transitway project, which will involve upgrading a number of intersections to improve travel times for buses on that busy corridor.
Next stop was Cannon Hill Plaza, where Belinda caught up with Brisbane’s newest councillor, Cr Lisa Atwood for Doboy Ward. Cr Atwood will be making her first speech in Council on Tuesday, but already we’ve lined up a bike ride next weekend to go exploring the area around Cannon Hill, Murarrie and Tingalpa to check out the opportunities to fill in some of the missing links that will make it easier for people to get about by bike.
Also at Cannon Hill, Belinda spoke with the previous and current Chandler Ward councillors, Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner and Cr Ryan Murphy. She reports: We had a good chat about issues local to Chandler Ward – including the Bulimba Creek Bikeway (specifically the big discontinuity at the Pacific Golf Club); the challenge for east-west connections posed by the Gateway Motorway; the rapid growth of new estates at Rochedale and how they could be served by active transport connections—including to the Metro station at Eight Mile Plains.
It was also great to talk with the Lord Mayor about his big plans for new green bridges, and how the arrival of e-scooters is helping to change people’s expectations of the best way to conveniently get around the city. Of course Belinda didn’t miss the opportunity to push for a network of protected bikelanes in the CBD—and yes, we think scooters fit well in that space. We also discussed Howard Smith Wharves (yes, the path is a disaster which needs to be fixed), Queens Wharf, and the Brisbane Live development.
On Tuesday 30 July, Brisbane City Council will discuss a motion to declare a climate emergency. As you might imagine, the Lord Mayor wouldn’t be drawn on the position he will take on that vote, but we did agree that what’s important is planning for a resilient, green, and healthy city.
Our place in the world
Making streets safer isn’t rocket science. Protected bike lanes, narrower car lanes and curb extensions that deter dangerous turns require paint, plastic and sometimes concrete. But it does require political will. In New York, where they are streets ahead of Brisbane in the fight for public space, Mayor de Blasio has been accused of lacking courage. What does that say of Brisbane?
Vancouver is regularly voted one of the best places in North America to get around by bicycle. And its ‘mode share’ of cycling as a proportion of trips keeps growing. But Vancouver’s network of bike lanes isn’t fancy – far from it. Relatively inexpensive infrastructure works, as long as the three key ingredients are there: protected bikelanes, political leadership, and a connected network.
“A smattering of paths here and there – as is common in various cities [ahem…Brisbane] – is better than nothing, but the system functions best when, as in Vancouver, bike lanes are connected, and it’s possible to travel from A to B to C.” It’s time to join the dots Brisbane!
We’ve said it hundreds of times, but here’s a good summary from WalkSydney: protected cycleways help make city streets better for everyone.
Finally, for inspiration, check out this video of Delft, The Netherlands – where you can bike all over the city without putting your foot down, and your kids can ride independently. It wasn’t always this way; this shows the remarkable transformation which is possible once your city decides to give priority to the movement of people. Wouldn’t you love to live in a city this quiet, safe, and family-friendly? (Bonus: the city must save huge amounts by not having to build and maintain the complex intersections and huge roads that devour so much of our rates and taxes in Brisbane).