3 Jan 2021

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Let’s get together and make 2021 the year active travel takes off in Brisbane. There are so many reasons to walk or ride: improving your physical and mental health, saving money, saving time, reducing your carbon footprint, casual encounters with friends while travelling, meeting new friends on your regular journeys, spending time with your kids, enjoying your local streets and parks, getting to know your neighbours, supporting local businesses, contributing to society… And just because it’s fun and enjoyable.

Stuart sent us this photo from New Year’s Eve; with 6 hours left in 2020 there had been 1,268,432 cycling trips on the Bicentennial Bikeway. (And yes, we know this count is on the low side – not all passing bikes are detected). That’s almost 1.3 million reasons to smile. Welcome to 2021. Let’s roll!

Things we’re looking forward to in 2021

Have you had a chance to get out and about on the bike to wear off a few of the Christmas calories? We’ve been checking out progress on a few things we’re looking forward to in 2021:

#1 Ipswich Motorway underpass at Oxley

The old underpass next to Oxley Creek was closed in January 2018 while this massive project rebuilt the motorway and service road (including multiple bridges), and created a new shared path and separated cycleway between Granard Rd and Oxley Creek, and a new shared path from there to Bannerman St, Oxley. We had a sneaky look at the underpass over Christmas. Hopefully it will open soon after work recommences in the new year.

(This is not a bikeway you’re ever likely to see on a postcard, but it’s a really important link to a major employment area, and fills a big gap in connectivity on the south side.)

#2 Centenary Cycleway going under Sumners Rd at Jamboree Heights / Sumner

This one’s not due to be completed until late 2021, but boy are we looking forward to the Centenary Cycleway being continuous here!

#3 North Brisbane Bikeway, completion of Stage 4

It’s hard to express how much we’re looking forward to no longer having to fear being cut off when riding through the s-bend near Wooloowin Station. This will be a game-changer for people wanting to ride to/from the CBD or RBWH from the northern suburbs. Stage 4 (to Price St) is expected to be completed by the end of January.

#4 Logan Rd underpass, Stones Corner

We’re looking forward to Norman Creek emerging from its concrete drain, and becoming a more natural and attractive creek through Hanlon Park at Stones Corner. But even more exciting from a cycling perspective is that Stage 3 of the project (due for completion in late 2021) will see the Norman Creek Bikeway go under Logan Rd.

That will bypass the dangerous Cleveland St crossing, and the pedestrian lights that so many drivers fail to see. It will create a safer route to school for kids attending Buranda State School and Narbethong State Special School. It will link up destinations along the cycleway like the Stones Corner Library, Langlands Swimming Pool, Easts Leagues Club, and other sporting and community facilities along the Norman Creek Greenway.

The Logan Rd underpass has been a long time coming, so we’re very much looking forward to this one!

#5 Indooroopilly Riverwalk

Not only does this bypass the steep, narrow, and bike-unfriendly Radnor St, but it also connects from the east (Lambert Rd) and the south (Jack Pesch Bridge) under the road and rail bridges towards the Centenary Cycleway and western suburbs. Completion is due in late 2021.

#6 Cycling up Elizabeth St

A protected bi-directional cycleway the length of Elizabeth St is due to open in mid-January as part of the first stage of the CityLink Cycleway. Works will recommence after the holiday break on 10 January. Finally being able to ride safely into the heart of the CBD – we can’t wait!!

Construction delays in the CityLink Cycleway (blamed on wet weather according to this article in the Brisbane Times) have been a bit exasperating; the benefits of popup cycleways are that people can quickly see that their fears of disruption to local business don’t materialise. In fact, protected cycleways offer a windfall for local shop owners – something which has been demonstrated everywhere they have been implemented and studied.

There’s also a warning from London: a newly installed bikeway was used by around 4,000 people each day, but after a few hundred people complained, the local council ripped it out. After the cycleway was removed, the space was mostly taken up by a few parked cars, and congestion increased!

Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner and Cr Ryan Murphy have previously explained their caution about installing protected cycleways by citing experience from other cities which have installed pop-up lanes only to remove them in the face of criticism. There will be criticism, no matter how well a scheme is implemented; it’s up to city leaders to explain the benefits and stick with decisions that are good for their city.

We’re looking forward to the Elizabeth St cycleway opening in mid-January, followed shortly by Edward St and the connection on William St to Victoria Bridge. Which brings us to more things we’re looking forward to in 2021:

#7 Cycling up Edward St

Work on the Edward St section of the CityLink Cycleway (between Elizabeth St and the Botanical Gardens) is due to start on 11 January, and it’s scheduled to open in mid-February. We created a demonstration protected bike lane on Edward St for Parking Day in 2016. We can’t wait to ride it for real!

#8 Cycling across Victoria Bridge in a dedicated protected cycleway!

Victoria Bridge will close to general motor vehicle traffic on 24 January 2021, to facilitate both the Brisbane Metro project and the CityLink Cycleway trial. This will increase the capacity of both public and active transport to and from the CBD. We’re excited, as we’ve campaigned for this important connection for many years, including organising four ‘Big Push‘ community rides across the bridge and staging a ‘die-in’ protest when the original plans for Brisbane Metro didn’t include a cycleway.

#9 Veloway extending south from Eight Mile Plains

The Veloway has finished rather abruptly at Logan Rd, Eight Mile Plains since the last section there was built in 2011. Now the Pacific Motorway Upgrade project stage 2 will see it extended to Daisy Hill. While the whole project isn’t scheduled for completion until 2024, we’re hoping some sections of the cycleway might be in use before then. We were excited to spot the first section of concrete recently!

#10 Old Cleveland Rd, past Carindale shopping centre

Stage 1 of the Eastern Transitway works, due to be completed in late 2021, will include 3m wide shared paths on both sides of Old Cleveland Rd between Narracott St and Creek Rd, and on the southern side of Old Cleveland Rd between Bulimba Creek and Creek Rd.

While we still have misgivings about some details of this project (see our submission back in July 2020), we are very much looking forward to the connection to the Bulimba Creek Bikeway, and to safer cycling facilities past Carindale Shopping Centre. This section has previously been a horror stretch of high-speed slip lanes and pinch points.

Old Cleveland Rd and Gateway Mwy Interchange

Speaking of Old Cleveland Rd, something we’re NOT looking forward to in 2021: The project to “upgrade” the Old Cleveland Rd on-ramp to the Gateway Motorway has actually removed what little provision previously existed to help cyclists safely navigate this busy cross-over. It’s an incredibly disappointing outcome on this key route, and not at all in line with the Queensland Government’s own Cycling Infrastructure Policy.

Thanks to Bicycle Queensland CEO Rebecca Randazzo for helping facilitate an on-site meeting with Department of Transport and Main Roads representatives just before Christmas. Look out for more on this in the new year – we want to see a solution that will make this interchange safe for people to travel by bike!!

Construction Safety for Cross River Rail

While we’re happy to see signs promoting road safety at Cross River Rail construction sites (including signs reminding drivers to watch out for vulnerable road users as they leave the sites), we would have preferred that the project adopted a Safe Systems approach from the very beginning—including requirements for safe vehicles and driver training. This is something we raised in our submissions to the Coordinator General (who must approve all project changes) and in meetings we have had with the Cross River Rail Delivery Authority.

In a recent seminar, Jon Lamonte, Chief Executive of the Sydney Metro project describes how they have embedded the Safe Systems approach in every aspect of that project. They aim to set a standard for the rest of the construction industry:

We’d like to see Queensland Government projects like Cross River Rail follow that lead. The first step of a safety program should be to address the biggest dangers.

Getting serious about safer streets

More people in Queensland were killed riding their bike in 2020 than died of COVID-19. And the record on pedestrian fatalities was even more tragic.

Obviously the comparison is only useful to a point, because road traffic crashes were not about to take off exponentially, but in 2020 Queenslanders demonstrated that we are capable of changing our behaviour, acting in the best interests of the community, and looking out for others in more vulnerable positions. It took strong leadership, and clear messaging, and Queenslanders rose to the occasion.

What if we could do the same with road safety? We could all drive less, and walk and cycle more if we were comfortable that others were doing that too, and that together we were making our neighbourhoods safer, friendlier and more comfortable – especially for children and older folk.

We need our road authorities onboard too. A good start would be lowering speed limits in urban areas, and changing the priority at existing crossings to make active travel more attractive. No more road and intersection “upgrades” that don’t include high quality facilities for walking and cycling. And more often responding to objections about “but where will I park my car??” with “you’re an adult, you’ll figure it out.”

One city taking road safety seriously is the Belgian city of Brussels, which on 1 January joined a growing list of cities to adopt 30kph as the default speed limit. Residents can start enjoying all the benefits of safer, quieter streets immediately, plus better air quality and a myriad of other benefits as more people discover that walking and cycling for local trips is more pleasant, so they can leave their car at home.

In Brussels a speed of 50kph will still be allowed on major roads (!), and a number will remain at 70kph. Meanwhile in the CBD, most roads will remain 20kph, with pedestrians and cyclists having priority over motor vehicles.

“The survey we carried out as part of the public inquiry showed us that 74% of Brussels residents wanted neighbourhoods with fewer cars, at a speed better suited to the local environment.”

Brussels mobility minister Elke Van den Brandt

Open street programs help cities and citizens learn how to adopt other means of transportation and create connections between people and the places they live in. The CicLAvia open streets program in Los Angles celebrates 10 years of temporarily removing cars to create a space which is slow, safe for families, and allows for civic engagement.

When the COVID health emergency is over, we think Brisbane should hold a series of open streets events to celebrate. Let’s start planning now. Which streets should we look to open up for an open streets event?