We spent much of this week talking about road safety, with representatives from Brisbane CBD BUG, EaST BUG, West BUG and North BUG attending the Safer Roads, Safer Queensland forum at the invitation of Minister for Main Roads and Road Safety, Hon. Mark Bailey MP. The 5th edition of this forum had a focus on vulnerable road users and distracted driving. As we reported, the critical factors agreed by experts at the forum were: lower speed limits; improved infrastructure (focusing on those areas where investment will see the greatest return); and laws (with appropriate enforcement and driver education) that will bring about a change in culture on the roads.
We took a detailed look at the recorded data for all crashes involving cyclists in the Brisbane City Council area since 2001, and asked why Council and State Government have not been focusing more on the high risk areas. Many of the hotspots where high numbers of collisions and injuries have occurred are exactly where the BUGs have been asking for improvements for years and being ignored in the interests of “balance” (which seems to simply translate to more cars, either moving or parked).
We’ve also been campaigning for more than two years for slower neighbourhood streets in Brisbane, and this week we reported on results from Bristol and Edinburgh in the UK, where 20mph speed limits are already saving lives and sparing people from serious injuries. The evidence it in! It is time for leaders in Brisbane and Queensland to pay attention.
Disappointingly, the RACQ (who have previously spoken out against slower streets) were this week arguing against another key measure for protecting vulnerable road users; presumed liability legislation. They were busy in print and electronic media this week spreading mis-information about the proposal (which has been championed by Safe Cycling Australia, and taken up by Bicycle Queensland), in the process inflaming hostility against bicycle riders. You can read a summary of our position here.
In the US, bicycle advocacy group People for Bikes, provided some great advice based on the experience in San Francisco, in particular: The question to ask stakeholders isn’t “should we do this or not?” – it’s “how should we do this?”
Sadly, that contrasts starkly with the reasons given by Brisbane City Council in rejecting a petition from West BUG for protected bikelanes along Vulture St through West End. This week Council also rejected petitions from Brisbane North BUG to make better provision for cyclists in a project to “upgrade” the intersection of Days Rd and Kedron Brook Rd (see summary here), and to retain the on-road cycle lanes on Shaw Road, Wavell Heights.
More positively, we were able to report on a good outcome from discussion with the developer of Yeerongpilly Green, where they have made some small but vital improvements to the temporary bike and pedestrian route from King Arthur Tce to Ortive St, Yeronga (which is of course part of the popular River Loop). We were also able to report that the Lord Mayor has responded to our dismay at finding the bike lanes on Nudgee Road dangerously narrowed: the bike lane will be amended to be 1.5 metres wide, with the work due to be completed by the end of March.
Over in Auckland, a group of reporters proved (once again) that commuting by bicycle beats any other mode in the city. Meanwhile, closer to home, riders from Brisbane Airport BUG proved that bike transport is also versatile, using a bike trailer to cart out bags of rubbish they collected from around the path and waterway at Shulz Canal for Clean Up Australia Day.
Finally, Belinda and John from EaST BUG joined a co-design workshop generating ideas and options for an upgrade of Hanlon Park at Stones Corner under the Norman Creek Master Plan. The day-long workshop was a great experience with community representatives and domain experts collaborating to explore ideas and constraints, and put forward design suggestions to create a great public space and city asset.