3 Oct 2021

A sombre 10 year anniversary

This week marked a sad anniversary. 10 years ago, Richard Pollett lost his life riding his bicycle on Moggill Road in Kenmore.

This tragedy led to a loud call for change, bringing about a parliamentary inquiry into cycling that resulted in the safe passing law and the development of the principal cycle network plan.

However, in the 10 years that have passed, there’s been nothing done to the road environment on Moggill Road to make cycling safer and avoid a repeat. In fact, history repeated in 2017 just a few hundred metres up the road.

A business case is in development for improving the cycling corridor, and, assuming the business case shows it’s viable, we urge the state government to commit funding to build it.

Australian Walking and Cycling Conference

A number of us attended the Australian Walking and Cycling Conference (online) this week. The theme for 2021 was Global Lessons; Local Opportunities. Here are some notes from a few of our favourite presentations:

Safe Streets to School

One very interesting presentation was from Jon Lindley from the community organisation Safe Streets to School Australia. (Like us) they believe that all kids and families should be able to enjoy getting to school safely.

Right now, in most of Australia, kids want to walk and ride to school but sadly, poor infrastructure and outdated traffic management plans mean many streets on their journey are not safe enough to do so. So parents, teachers, and citizens are campaigning for research-backed measures that are proven to make walking and cycling safer for our children.

Within 2km of every school they are asking for:

  • Pedestrian priority crossings on streets with speed limits 40km/h and higher
  • Footpaths on streets with speed limits 40km/h and higher
  • 30km/h speed limits for streets where there are no pedestrian priority crossings or footpaths

You can sign the petition supporting safe streets for kids, and consider setting up your own local chapter.

30 Please

Lena Huda from 30Please.org gave another excellent presentation on the benefits of 30kph neighbourhood streets. She spoke about why setting area-wide speed limits is better value than pleading with your city for traffic calming street by street.

Lena reminded those of us feeling that behaviour change is impossible: remember how smoking in public (including in restaurants and aeroplanes) was “normal”? Now imagine trying to ban smoking postcode by postcode.

We also had a good discussion on why 30kph is a “sweet-spot” for urban speed, and why advocating for 40kph, rather that the internationally recognised standard of 30 misses the mark.

For those concerned that driving is difficult at 30kph (what do they do in congested traffic??): Intelligent Speed Assist (ISA) will be mandatory in all new cars sold in Europe from next year. The cost has been estimated at less than $100 per car!

30Please.org is part of the global movement #StreetsForLife.

Open Streets

Leyla Asadi from Bicycle Network presented the results of an Open Streets Initiative conducted at Brunswick East Primary School, in partnership with Moreland City Council (in suburban Melbourne). The trial involved removing motor vehicle traffic from Stewart St in front of the school, and opening it up to people walking, cycling, and scooting instead.

The trial was conducted across three Fridays in March, during the morning from 8-9am and afternoon from 3:30-4pm. Residents in Stewart St were given permits so that they could bring their cars in and out during those times, but over the course of the trial, most people simply adjusted and made other arrangements. An important aspect of the trial was including the residents; as people who live on a school street, they are part of that community, and most didn’t need convincing that it is time to put the kids first.

Surveyed at the end of the trial, 60% of parents responded that Stewart Street should be open (to people walking, cycling, and scooting) during every day of the school week! But Leyla’s pictures tell an even better story.

What does your local school street look like in the mornings and afternoons? Would you prefer it to look like this instead?

Bike riding potential

Lauren Pearson presented on her research into bike riding potential. She found that in Victoria, the percentage of the population who would like to ride but are concerned about unsafe infrastructure is considerably higher than revealed in other international studies. There are also fewer people who would not cycle under any circumstances (including those physically unable to ride).

Lauren’s research found high levels of interest in cycling by women (even though they ride less than men), and in outer urban areas where there are low levels of participation. This all indicates a significant unmet demand for better cycling infrastructure – and not just concentrated in the inner city.

James Laing spoke about the pop-up cycle lanes he had designed for Heidelberg Road, in Melbourne’s east. This included discussion of how they had determined the minimum acceptable width (deciding on 1.8m, not including the gutter), and strategies to minimise the main risk: left hooks at intersections and property access points.

It was good to see a designer showing video from his own experience using the infrastructure, and discussing changes they implemented based on what was found to work well or not so well in practice.

Playful approaches

We were treated to a couple of great presentations using alternative approaches to advocacy (engaging with the Lego community about bikes), and alternative views; asking the real experts what they like and don’t like about their neighbourhood.

As well as showing us to his neighbourhood through the eyes of his young experts, Matt Groot introduced us to the Urban95 initiative which asks: “If you could experience the city from 95cm – the height of a healthy 3-year-old – what would you change?” and uses the answers to help city planners, urban designers, and other urbanists understand how their work can influence child development. The goal is to encourage cities to create spaces where children can grow, learn, create, imagine and play across all neighbourhoods, reaching as many families as possible.

Around Brisbane

Returning to Brisbane, here’s what we discovered this week:

Bike repair stands

This is handy: it’s good to see a bike pump and repair stand (with tools) on the North Brisbane Bikeway at Mann Park, Windsor. The one recently installed at Witton Barracks Park, Indooroopilly is even more swish; it’s covered!

Secure bike parking

Also look, foundations are in place for a secure bike parking enclosure at Wooloowin Station. It’s great to see these types of facilities being rolled out across the network.

Combining public and active transport is a cheap, healthy, efficient, convenient, and low-carbon way to get around.

Brisbane Airport by bike

It’s a sign! Airport BUG have been highlighting for years how difficult it is to reach the Brisbane Airport Domestic Terminal by bike. You can now at least get there from Hibiscus Ave without disobeying the very officious signs.

(Still no good news for pedestrians or people with e-scooters unfortunately.)

Hanlon Park stage 2

Hanlon Park, Stones Corner was the place to be on Sunday afternoon, as Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner and Councillor Fiona Cunningham officially opened stage 2 of the park transformation.

Back in March 2018, members of East BUG and Brisbane South BUG took part in a community visioning workshop for this project. We think the project team has done a great job bringing that vision to life. If a measure of success is the number of kids (and adults) on wheels, or with their shoes off playing in the creek, this is definitely a winner!

Next up: stage 3, which includes the long-anticipated underpass beneath the Logan Road bridge, filling a dangerous missing link in the Norman Creek Bikeway.

Howard Smith Wharves

Back in 2019, the Brisbane Times reported that unapproved structures had been constructed at Howard Smith Wharves. One of these structures the CBD BUG believe was an trellis structure (over a bar and drinking area) which created issues for people using the active transport corridor, as people would spill out onto the path. It appears Brisbane City Council may have finally been successful in having the structure removed. This provides the potential for the path to be realigned making it safer when traveling past the lift.

Not so positive: discovery of a “cyclists and scooters please dismount” sign. That sign was already on the ground, and appears to be written in the font used elsewhere at Howard Smith Wharves. We don’t know why the sign was there but it is concerning. A condition of the development approval was that a cycle corridor be provided; it is, after all, a primary cycle route. A cycling corridor is not a cycling corridor if people are required to get off and walk!

Gateway North Bikeway temporary closures

If you a regular user of the Gateway North Bikeway there is a daytime closure coming up shortly. The section is the older part, close to Depot Rd. Thankfully this section is only closed during the hours they are actually removing the asbestos on the adjoining site.

The Bikeway was originally going to be closed from 9am till 4pm Thursday 30 September until Tuesday 5 October (open on weekends) however the wet weather will most likely delay the start until next week.

Big Oil, deep pockets

Have you ever considered who benefits from reinforcing the narrative that having a car (or multiple cars per household) is essential, and the city must do everything possible to make driving and parking easy and convenient – often at the expense of the very things that make a destination worthwhile? These companies are well resourced, and that makes them very influential with political decision makers.

How do you feel about seeing fuel companies and car companies buying their way into public space and political consciousness? Just part of the free market? Or should we be treating it more like cigarette advertising and responding to the harm their products cause?