28 Nov 2021

Personal Mobility Devices (PMDs)

Representatives of a number of the BUGs attended a round-table on Personal Mobility Devices (PMDs) this week. It was a very interesting afternoon of discussion, hosted by TMR and Transport Minister Mark Bailey MP, with Council’s Transport Chair, Cr Ryan Murphy. Other participants included the Queensland Police, trauma specialists, road safety researchers, disability advocates, pedestrian and senior citizens groups, scooter riders associations, PMD retailers, and share-scheme providers (Beam and Neuron).

This is NOT a summary of the discussion, and does not represent any group’s position, but here are a few points we found interesting:

  • Police receive most complaints about private personal mobility devices, but the offending they observe is roughly equal between private users, and those on the public hire devices.
  • Most offenders intercepted by QPS already have a suspended or disqualified licence (and not a high level of respect for rules), or they have never held a licence and often don’t actually know the rules.
  • The CityLink Cycleway has improved rider behaviour in the Brisbane CBD, with the majority of PMD riders using it in preference to the footpath. PMD users account for 44% to 62% of users on the cycleway.
  • Emergency Department data from Brisbane’s 3 major hospitals from Nov 2018 to May 2020 includes 797 cases involving personal mobility devices. The majority of them were men.
  • The most common injuries were fractures of the upper limbs (35%) and dislocation/sprains, followed by open wounds. 9% were head injuries.
  • The most common times for injuries were Thursday to Saturday evening from 6pm – midnight.
  • 62% of these cases involve “fall from device” – i.e. the rider injuring themselves.
  • only 12 cases involved injury to a pedestrian/bystander. (But it’s important to acknowledge the point made by pedestrian/seniors and disability advocates: those injuries can be life-changing; 80% of people recently surveyed said they felt less safe going outside since e-scooters had been introduced, and 40% reported using the footpath less often).
  • Regulations on the size (particularly the length) and weight of what is classified a PMD limits some features that can make these devices safer, such as larger wheels, suspension, and hydraulic brakes.
  • Many people who purchase an e-scooter don’t know how they are allowed to use it. Retailers provide information, and set speed limits on devices they sell – but these can be tampered with after sale. There are few restrictions on importing devices that are illegal to use in Australia.
  • According to Australia’s leading PMD seller, 60% of customers are over 50.
  • Brisbane’s hire operators (Neuron and Beam) are willing and ready to make changes to the operation of their programs. They are well ahead of the traditional motor vehicle industry in this respect.

Overall it was a very positive forum, with everyone keen to see personal mobility devices succeed, and recognising the benefits when this is done safely: first and last mile connectivity, alternative commuting options, addressing congestion, lowering environmental impact, tourism opportunities, and support for improved mobility / access.

One of the issues discussed was allowing riders of e-scooters and similar devices to use on-road bike lanes. We couldn’t help observing that perhaps those arguing for PMDs in on-road bike lanes weren’t aware of just how disjointed the bicycle ‘network’ in Brisbane is.

We struggle to think of many roads where you can ride for more than a few hundred metres in an on-road bike lane without encountering a parked vehicle (legal or otherwise) or finding that the lane just vanishes. If there is a footpath, there’s often not a safe transition to reach it. In reality, it doesn’t make sense to talk about PMDs using on-road bike lanes and moving to the footpath when the bike lane runs out; either they are permitted on urban roads or they are not.

Our position remains consistent: the default speed limit on neighbourhoods streets should be 30kph, which is a safe speed suitable for bikes, electric bikes, PMDs and other motor vehicles. We should have separated space on main roads (i.e. protected bike lanes) for people travelling by bike and other personal mobility devices that can be power-assisted up to 25kph.

Stanley Street East

Aside from the insanity of building a new petrol station just metres from an existing petrol station, and building it in a flood zone, and building it *at all* in the midst of a climate emergency and a move away from fossil-fuel powered vehicles…. This development on Stanley Street East, in East Brisbane suggests that on-street parking is not required at this location.

While it’s good that they’ve created a replacement footpath while the construction project has taken over the public space, it makes conditions even worse than usual for riding your bike on what is supposed to be a ‘primary cycle route’.

Two years ago, East BUG petitioned Council to construct a cycleway along Stanley St East, highlighting that there is no arterial cycling route connecting the Brisbane CBD to the eastern suburbs of a similar standard to the Bicentennial/Centenary Bikeway corridor to the south-west, V1 Veloway to the south, and North Brisbane Bikeway almost completed to the northern suburbs.

In response, Council acknowledged the importance of the route, but claimed they did not have any funding in their current budget, but would consider it for future works.

“Any future project would consider impacts on general traffic and on-street parking and loading zones, with the inclusion of a two-way separated bikeway likely to require removal of a traffic lane or parking in several locations.”

Brisbane City Council

This is one of those locations, and it seems on-street parking is not required! It’s time to build the cycleway!

Flex-posts on Wynnum Rd

Still in the eastern suburbs, East BUG have provided an update on the Wynnum Road flex-posts: After hanging on bravely, even the ultra-strong bolts on the latest posts could not withstand the constant blows, and 4 of the posts have fallen this week….

Green Bridges

There was a good turn-out Saturday’s consultation session about the Toowong to West End to St Lucia green bridges. Many who, like us, are excited about the destinations that will be within range once these new active transport connections are available; but also some people who don’t expect to use the bridges themselves and therefore don’t believe they should be built.

Belinda was curious about the shade ‘sail’ structures. We know there have been loud calls for shading on these bridges, but also recognise that’s quite difficult without obstructing the views. We’re keen to see modelling showing how much of the day the shade will be on the bridge deck as opposed to over the river. We’ve had plenty of reminders this week that a small overhead structure with no sides isn’t much shelter from the rain either!

More information about the bridges is available from Council’s website, and there are 6 more information sessions coming up:

  • Monday 29 Nov 4-7pm Toowong Library (meeting room), 9 Sherwood Road, Toowong
  • Tuesday 30 Nov 4-7pm St Lucia Bowls Club, 9 Carr Street, St Lucia
  • Saturday 4 Dec 6am-2pm West End Markets, Davies Park, Montague Road and Jane Street, West End
  • Wednesday 8 Dec 4-7pm South Brisbane Sailing Club, 68 Hill End Terrace, West End
  • Sunday 6 Feb 9am-12 noon Toowong Library (meeting room), 9 Sherwood Road, Toowong
  • Saturday 12 Feb 6am-2pm West End Markets, Davies Park, Montague Road and Jane Street, West End

Walter Taylor Bridge

Speaking of bridges: Brisbane City Council is undertaking a pre-feasibility study for the Chelmer to Indooroopilly River Crossing – more commonly referred to as the Walter Taylor Bridge replacement plan. The existing Walter Taylor Bridge is a heritage listed landmark that is over 85 years old – and as the photo shows, has carried bicycles since day one. But it is aging, and is heavily congested by motor traffic at times, and needs to be preserved.

The likely result is a new road bridge to be built east of the rail bridge, where the current Jack Pesch Bridge shared path is attached. While there’s calls to increase the number of road lanes across to “bust congestion”, we know that induced demand means the opposite will be the result – increasing capacity of the road just means more congestion later.

We think it’s more important to highlight the inadequate cycling and walking connections at each end of the current bridge which, apart from the Indooroopilly Riverwalk, leave you on your own to negotiate busy local roads like Lambert Road, Clarence Road, Oxley Road or Honour Avenue. Providing these missing links will also induce demand – for bikes, e-bikes and e-scooters to replace short trips people are currently taking by car.

Council is asking for community input into this pre-feasibility stage, which is due for completion in mid-2022. You can complete an online survey, write to the project team and attend one of these information sessions:

  • Thursday 2 December 2021, 5pm-7pm at Indooroopilly Shopping Centre (Level 1, opposite Essential Beauty)
  • Saturday 4 December 2021, 9am-11am at Gordon Thomson Park, Chelmer.

Park Road, Milton

In the inner west, Park Road, Milton is getting a Village Precinct Upgrade. West BUG think this is a great idea to try and draw more people back to this once thriving dining, retail and transit precinct. The focus is on streetscape changes, but we also think a focus can be on making active transport in the area more pleasant and amenable. Simple measures like giving the precinct a 40kph speed limit, to more elaborate changes like repurposing one of the 4 lanes to support wider footpaths and bike lanes would be great to encourage the growing number of local residents to enjoy the precinct, and reduce the impact of the high amount of through traffic.

Check out the opportunities on offer, and have your say at this link.

SE Freeway Bikeway

Peeking over the fence at the upgrades to the SE Freeway Bikeway at Tarragindi – it’s looking good. We were hoping it might be open this week, but the weather hasn’t exactly been the best for pathway construction projects recently. Hopefully very soon… Watch this space.

Gabba Bikeway armadillo

While it’s nice that the strange hump that has appeared in the Gabba Bikeway on Annerley Rd now has some ‘visibility’ stripes, it would be even better if Council could get on with fixing it; it’s still a hazard. What bad luck the mound didn’t arise 60cm to the right, between the bike lane and motor traffic…

North Brisbane Bikeway ride

This weekend, join Brisbane North BUG and Space for Cycling Brisbane on Saturday 4 December at 9:30am for a family-friendly ride All the Way to EJ and a picnic morning tea. It’s a chance to get involved in the campaign for the missing link in the North Brisbane Bikeway and have a pleasant morning out at the same time.

We’ll start at Windsor Park, ride up the North Brisbane Bikeway past Wooloowin Station, and continue along the All the Way to EJ route to the end of Diggers Drive in Clayfield (near Toombul shops). And then we’ll pedal back again. It’s an easy 4.5 kilometres each way, and we’ll ride at a child-friendly pace. When we get back to Windsor Park, we’ll have a picnic morning tea. It’s a shady park with a playground, right next to the North Brisbane Bikeway by McDonald Road.

If you are driving to the start, there’s plenty of parking near Windsor Park. And if you’re arriving by train, it’s an easy ride from Windsor Station. Or you can start the ride at Wooloowin Station – the already-completed section of the North Brisbane Bikeway goes right past.

Feel free to join us at any point along the route. Our expected (approximate) times are:

  • 9:35 a.m. – leave Windsor Park
  • 9:50 a.m. – leave Fraser Street opposite Wooloowin Station
  • 10:10 a.m. – arrive at Diggers Drive.
  • 10:25 a.m. – leave the playground at the bottom of Jackson Street (near Lewis Street)
  • 11 a.m.-ish – gather back at Windsor Park for morning tea

If we get a big crowd, we’re likely to run a bit slower than this schedule. And there won’t be any rush to get back to Windsor Park – there are several places to stop for coffee on or near our route back.
We’ll find an alternative spot nearby for the morning tea if the weather is too wet.