29 Nov 2020

e-Mobility in, CityCycle out

Brisbane City Council also announced their draft e-Mobility Strategy for consultation on Tuesday. Along with e-scooters, a shared dockless e-bike program will be rolled out from July 2021.

Although Tuesday’s presentation to the Public and Active Transport Committee was about the e-Mobility strategy, what they didn’t mention in that meeting (but announced via the media afterwards) was that sadly, a consequence of that is CityCycle will be no more. From February 2021, CityCycle stations will be decommissioned and removed across the city.

While e-scooter use has soared, CityCycle’s ridership took a hit and has not recovered. Council believes an e-bike option is a better way forward in Brisbane’s climate and landscape.

We had hoped that the CityLink Cycleway would prove the point we’ve been making over the years; that protected infrastructure and public bike hire complement each other. Although we won’t have a chance to observe that effect directly, we are excited about the possibilities of a shared e-bike scheme, particularly if it expands beyond the current CityCycle footprint.

We do hope that the space used for CityCycle Stations remains used for active transport – as bicycle parking areas and as safe zones to leave shared scooters and e-bikes. We are a little disappointed that the renegotiated contract with JCDecaux apparently won’t result in removal of the advertising clutter from footpaths and public spaces though.

Meanwhile, Chris seems to have become the poster boy for e-bikes! On Thursday he was speaking on ABC Brisbane radio with Rebecca Levingston about Council’s plans to replace CityCycles with an electric bike share system. (You can listen here from 1:40:00). He also appeared riding an e-bike in this article from InQueensland on Council’s e-mobility strategy.

There was not much action on the CityLink Cycleway this week, but we were unreasonably excited to see notices up along Elizabeth St and Edward St advising that on-street parking would be removed in late-November!! It might seem like a small step, but it’s an important one; finally recognition that enabling thousands of people to move safely through the CBD on the CityLink Cycleway is a better use of valuable public space than storage of a few private vehicles. There are plenty of options for CBD parking provided by commercial operators, and Council has worked hard to ensure disability parking, taxi zones and commercial loading zones are relocated nearby. We understand that construction of the protected cycleways is about to start, and we’re hoping to be riding on them by Christmas. It looks like Santa might be delivering by cargo bike this year!!

Compare: Brisbane v. Sydney

Image from SydneyCycleways

Thanks to some great work in Sydney, Santa has been able to get around safely to deliver Christmas cheer using the rapidly expanding network of protected cycleways. In Brisbane, we’re concerned that the two streets that comprise Brisbane’s COVID “pop-up” response might not be ready in time for his delivery run. And even then, Santa will still need his flying sleigh to reach the ends of the Elizabeth St cycleway, or to continue up Edward St.

Speaking of Sydney, check out the transformation of Pitt St! In response to COVID, one of Sydney’s most hectic streets has been transformed with a separated cycleway and wider footpath, reducing the traffic to a single lane. People walking and cycling are reclaiming the street.

(After images are from Sara Stace on Twitter)

Pop-ups are possible in Brisbane!

At least we know pop-up cycleways are possible in Brisbane; on Wednesday we received notification from Cross River Rail that their request to the Coordinator-General to make changes to the access arrangements at Kent St, Dutton Park had been approved. That gave them the green light to implement traffic changes on Kent St, which are now in place.

As predicted, the result looks like an improvement for cyclists connecting from the PA Hospital Bikeway towards Gladstone Rd via the footpath on the eastern side of Annerley Rd (past the Dutton Park Station entrance). The situation for cyclists wanting to turn left into Cornwall St from the bikeway is more confusing, but hopefully people will find their way through. If you are riding in this area, please be very aware of the increased heavy vehicle traffic movements associated with the Cross River Rail construction.

Green Bridges

Brisbane City Council opened up consultation for the preferred alignment of the Toowong to West End and St Lucia to West End green bridges this week. Each bridge has 3 preliminary alignments to choose from, each with its own rationale and estimated usage by 2031 and 2041.

The options for the Toowong bridges each land along Archer Street at various points, with the West End landing at different parts of Orleigh Park.

The St Lucia bridge has more variation, with Guyatt Park, Munro Street and Keith Street joining to Orleigh Park, Ryan Street or Boundary Street respectively.

There are 6 drop in sessions where you can meet council officers and share your thoughts. You can also complete an online survey. Consultation is open until 29th January 2021.

No more Norman Park Ferry

While Council is consulting to determine the best locations for two new cross-river bridges from West End to Toowong and St Lucia, crossing the river east of the Story Bridge just got more difficult.

This week in Council’s Public and Active Transport Committee Meeting, Space4cyclingBNE and The Translink Ripoff were not the only observers aside from media and council officers as usual. This week we were joined by a large contingent of residents from Norman Park who were keen to hear how Council would respond to their petition to reinstate the cross-river ferry.

These people feel abandoned by Council’s sudden decision to withdraw the wooden ferry vessels in the name of safety, and then use that as the reason to cancel the cross-river service to Norman Park and close the terminal permanently. To add insult, it comes after massive disruptions during the road widening project which made reaching the terminal quite difficult. Council cited a decline in ferry patronage during that time as one of the reasons for pulling the service.

Soon the closest alternative ferry terminal at Mowbray Park will need to be closed for approximately 9 months for refurbishment, as will the Dockside terminal. Thornton St has also been closed.

The relevance to cycling of course is that the cross-river ferries provide an option for people wanting to reach a destination across the river who are not prepared to ride the long distances on steep shabby paths and dangerous roads to reach another ferry terminal or one of the distant bridges. Council’s new green bridge program has completely ignored the eastern suburbs.

One of the reasons cited for the service cancellation was low patronage; at an average of 133 passengers per day, Council doesn’t believe this justifies the cost of running ferries from Norman Park, and certainly not the cost to upgrade the terminal to comply with disability access standards.

It’s interesting to consider that decision in light of the enthusiasm from all levels of government to build car parking. For example, at Murarrie Station recently, each additional new car parking space cost around $60,000 which the state government promoted as a good investment to keep one car off the road between there and the CBD. If Council or the State Government were prepared to invest an equivalent amount for everyone taking the cross-river ferry instead of driving, that would more than pay for the ferry terminal upgrade.

Recommendations of the Public and Active Transport Committee will be taken to Council’s main meeting next week for a vote, but that’s effectively a rubber stamp. The decision has already been made by the Council administration; their strategy to ‘activate’ the river includes building ‘River Hubs‘ (which amount to sparsely used fishing pontoons), and further subsidising the commercial operators of Howard Smith Wharves (where Council will pay half the cost of building a new terminal), but not providing public transport services and active transport connections for residents.

Sir Fred Schonell Drive

On Tuesday Council voted to reject a petition requesting a review of Sir Fred Schonell Drive in St Lucia before proceeding with the intersection project which attempts to fix the black spot they created there just 6 years ago.

Walter Taylor Ward councillor, Cr James Mackay, insisted that cyclists don’t use Sir Fred Schonell Drive, and that it is not part of the River Loop or commuting route to the University of Queensland. That’s despite it being identified as a major cycle route in the map Council just produced for the green bridges consultation!

A glance at Strava’s heatmaps also contradicts Cr Mackay. We know that has some bias towards sports and recreational cyclists, but we also know many commuter and utility riders who prefer Sir Fred Schonell Drive over the steep, slow, and difficult route via Jerdanefeld Rd and Hiron St.

Embarrassingly, even Council’s response to the petition acknowledges the high number of cycle trips made on Sir Fred Schonell Drive, while at the same time reiterating that they have no intention of improving the way it functions.

It’s disappointing that Council have not been prepared to look at the data, and have so determinedly rejected our suggestions to discourage private motor vehicle access to the University of Queensland in favour of public and active transport.

Wakerley Bikeway

We hate reacting to news of a new bikeway with “that’s good, but….” However:

It’s great news that an off-road shared path will be built alongside Rickertt Rd, Ransome in conjunction with the Rickertt Rd / Chelsea Rd intersection signalisation project. Rickertt Rd is a busy 80kph road with no shoulder, so currently not at all friendly for cycling.

Unfortunately, the recent work on Green Camp Rd did not take this active travel connection in to account. Anyone cycling from The Redlands towards Brisbane using the new path will need to wait through 3 beg-and-wait cycles at the intersection to cross Green Camp Rd and continue to Manly Rd or Tilley Rd. We wouldn’t put up with this type of discontinuity in road planning, so why is active transport treated as an after-thought, forcing people to choose between safety and convenience? (Yes, you can have an off-road path, but only if you’re prepared to regularly wait for 5 minutes at a time in the blazing sun to be able to use it.)

Another issue is that Rickertt Rd is regularly used by bunch riders out for exercise on the weekends and early mornings (which is a great way to keep fit and healthy). A 2.5m shared path with constrained entry and exit points really isn’t suitable or safe for group rides. Sadly, we’ve seen that some motorists react badly (escalating to threats and physical assault) when they see people cycling on the road where there is off-road infrastructure nearby – even if it is completely unsuitable.

Finally: the plans for the intersection only include pedestrian crossings on 2 of the 4 approaches. So to/from the south-east corner there is no signalised crossing at all. Low current pedestrian numbers should not be used as an excuse for not building an intersection which is up to standard; it should be built correctly from the beginning, and if the pedestrian crossing is rarely used at first, that’s fine; the all-important motor vehicle traffic won’t be delayed!

SE Freeway Bikeway

In better news, TMR’s upgrade to the South East Freeway path through Ekibin Park South and Arnwood St Park at Annerley is looking good. We were a bit surprised to find the diversion at the northern end last weekend though – we missed that notification. This will be great when it re-opens, which is scheduled for mid-December, and looks like it’s on track.

And nearby, there’s something more to love about the Veloway at Tarragindi! Although of course if you’re on a bike sailing over the traffic you won’t get to see these fantastic art works on the supports, so maybe take a side-trip to check them out one day.

A little win at Darra

Small change, big improvement. Months ago, council installed a footpath and pedestrian refuge crossing at Monier Road to connect to the Darra BMX park. In order to protect people from falling into the drain it included a fence. Unfortunately it had been built with a 90 degree angle making it very difficult on a bike – which isn’t ideal to reach a bike park…

Thankfully, Cr Sarah Hutton took up the case after being contacted by West BUG, and the fence has been redesigned on an angle allowing cyclists (even less skilful ones like Chris) to make the corner safely.

Nundah Criterium Track Closure

From North BUG: Brisbane City Council has advised of upcoming surface repair works at the Albert Bishop Park Criterium Circuit, Nundah. The project will commence on Monday 30 November 2020 and is scheduled to be completed by Friday 4 December 2020 (weather permitting). The criterium circuit will be closed for the duration of the project.

Petition for slower speeds

If you’re one of the hundreds of people who regularly cycle along King Arthur Terrace and Graceville Avenue through Tennyson and Graceville, you’ve probably felt that the 60kph speed limit is too fast for this corridor. Ideally it shouldn’t be up to residents to have to plead with Council for safer streets, but here we are: a petition from a Tennyson resident asking that the speed limit along King Arthur Tce and Graceville Ave be reduced from 60 to 50kph.

Breaking free from addiction

For decades we have been sold the dream that a car means freedom, safety, convenience, and status. But that’s only because the car lobby, combined with politicians, planners and the fossil fuel industry have successfully argued that cities should be built around moving cars around, at the expense of all other forms of transport.

With endless traffic congestion, worsening public health and the climate crisis, we all see that that is the wrong approach. So why is it so difficult to shake that mindset, and rapidly roll out the solutions we know that work to connect communities and get people moving?

This article from New Zealand is equally applicable in Australia.

The recent tragic deaths of five delivery cyclists on Australian roads have prompted commentary about risky rider behaviour and poor labour laws that force riders to take risks they shouldn’t have to. This article in The Conversation looks at the other factor in these deaths: the role of Australia’s roads and how they are planned, engineered and governed to favour motorised vehicles over people walking and cycling.

“The site of Sunday’s death is a clear example. The intersection where the cyclist was killed by an excavator-carrying truck is not a highway but a relatively narrow street with houses and a school. Should large trucks really be driving on streets like this?”

Fun with bikes instead!

Did you know that Brisbane has a thriving custom bike scene? The Pedal Pushers Bicycle Club have regular events celebrating their amazing creations. The bikes might have been laid back, but the competition was intense on Riverside Drive on the weekend, as the Pedal Pushers gathered for their annual Get-A-Grip Kustom Bike Show drag races. Belinda went along to capture some of the action – check out the pictures in our latest blog post.