4 Oct 2020

State election campaign

As Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Mark Bailey MP, Labor‘s Member for Miller has a busy schedule, but he found time to join Chris on a (very early) ride on Wednesday to check out some of the issues for active transport in his local electorate.

Spanning the suburbs of Chelmer to Sherwood in the west, and east to Moorooka and Tarragindi, Miller has the V1 Veloway along its eastern boundary; the River Loop runs through its middle; and the Jack Pesch Bridge heads north across to Maiwar. But what’s missing and has long been needed is a cycling corridor heading east-west along Sherwood Road, and along Fairfield Road heading north-south to enable more people to cycle to local destinations, as well as reach the Veloway. The good news is Mark is very aware of these issues and is keen to work with Brisbane City Council and the Active Transport Advisory Committee to move things along.

Mark also discussed the joint State Government and Brisbane City Council plans to widen the Oxley Road rail underpass, where there’s currently a really dangerous pinch point for cyclists on the busy road. Chris pointed out the pedestrian underpass down Jerrold Street which is a popular option to avoid busy Oxley Road, and asked whether it could be considered for an upgrade at the same time as the road underpass.

Chris took Mark along the designated cycling route between Sherwood and Chelmer, which has some areas that could be improved quite inexpensively. Then it was a dash east to the South East Freeway Bikeway which TMR is currently widening from a 2m wide shared path to 3m.

A little later in the morning, and at a more leisurely pace, Belinda from EaST BUG, and Victor Huml, Greens candidate for Greenslopes went exploring Stones Corner, Coorparoo, Camp Hill, Greenslopes, and Buranda (which is technically in the South Brisbane electorate, but connects the area to the CBD).

The Greenslopes electorate has the excellent Veloway on its western edge, but that’s a bit like taking an express train – it’s a direct and fast route, but there are limited places to get on and off. Other state government infrastructure includes the rail corridor and Coorparoo Station – where the active transport connections could be greatly improved, particularly at night.

Belinda pointed out the lost opportunity for a bikeway beside the eastern busway, and they marvelled at the empty block between Laura and Lilly Streets. While Council and State Government point to each other as the reason nothing has been done here for the last decade, the community is missing out on an active transport connection and perhaps a park, playground, or other community space.

Old Cleveland Road is another key connector for the electorate, and although it’s a Council asset, the state government has taken control to implement the transitway… so why not for a bikeway? Victor ventured onto Old Cleveland Road for a short section but agreed it was pretty daunting – especially where parked cars necessitate moving out into fast-moving traffic.

All good bike rides involve coffee, and the Martha Street precinct was tempting, but we waited until the end of the ride to find a café on Logan Road in Stones Corner, which has some great vibes, but also plenty of unmet potential.

Also that morning, Donald from Brisbane CBD BUG caught up with Pinky Singh, the LNP candidate for McConnel. Like many people, Pinky hasn’t ridden a bike for years, so it was a good opportunity to talk about how safe, separated infrastructure can help people rediscover the joy and simplicity of travelling on two wheels. As Donald pointed out, women are most likely to cite lack of safe infrastructure as the main barrier to cycling, and where there are good facilities, the percentage of riders who are female is typically higher.

Brisbane City Council‘s recent announcement of the CityLink Bikeway, with a trial of protected bike lanes on Elizabeth and Edward Streets is a timely example of what can be done to support those who are interested in riding but concerned about safety around traffic.

Donald and Pinky discussed the importance of integrating quality active transport facilities as part of other projects – something we’ve seen with varying success in the inner city with Cross River Rail, Howard Smith Wharves and Queen’s Wharf. With other projects like Brisbane Live moving forward, planning for active transport in the inner city is a key issue this election.

Donald also highlighted issues at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, including convenient access to bike parking, and providing a safe connection connection over Campbell Street for the North Brisbane Bikeway.

On the weekend, Miree Le Roy, the Greens candidate for Sandgate, and Andrew from North BUG caught up for a short bike ride around the Sandgate electorate. Andrew could tell Miree was a regular rider as she already knew exactly where to expect the swooping magpies!

During the ride they discussed the importance of separated cycle infrastructure. Along the Sandgate foreshore there is a shared path which works well with low volumes but at peak times it generates conflicts. Given the on-road conditions (busy roads, cars parked in the bike lane) its no wonder why people choose the safer (but congested) option.

They also spoke about the business benefits of making streets safer for people and how a more bicycle and pedestrian friendly areas attract more people and more business.

CBD Bike Lanes are Go!

Fantastic news this week: Brisbane is about to get protected bike lanes in the city centre!! The first stage (Elizabeth St and Edward St) is due to be ready by Christmas, and the connection across the river to Grey St shortly afterwards, in early 2021.

It has taken a long time to reach this stage, and we congratulate everyone who has helped overcome the barriers. Well done to Council’s Chair of Public and Active Transport, Cr Ryan Murphy who has helped convince his colleagues by asking:

“What is the best use of scarce road space in the CBD? Is it to allow a handful of private vehicles to sit there for hours, or for thousands of cyclists and e-scooters to commute safely?”

Cr Ryan Murphy

This will enable many more people to ride, and will make a huge difference to mobility in the CBD. It’s only a 12 month trial to start with, so let’s ensure that trial is a ride-away success! (Well have more to say on the detailed plans over coming days.)

Prior to this announcement on Tuesday, we had joked that waiting for “pop-up” protected bikeways in Brisbane felt like watching grass grow, and wondered, now that Spring is here, will they finally start sprouting? Toowoomba has been showing the way…

Bicentennial Bikeway

There is also good news for Bicentennial Bikeway improvements between Kurilpa Bridge and Victoria Bridge. TMR are considering a preferred design option for upgrading this link, including separated paths for cyclists (up to 4m wide) and pedestrians (up to 3m) and a ramp to either Turbot Street or Ann Street to access the CBD. You can have your say on via the online survey.

We suggest including in your general comments (final question) that you support this upgrade, but that it should not be undermined by a “shared use” mixing zone at Queens Wharf Plaza. We have seen how that approach has played out at Howard Smith Wharves, with a commercial interest downgrading an important active transport connection and usurping public access along the riverfront.

Sumners Road Interchange Update

More good news from the south…you can almost touch it… Work is progressing well on the Sumners Road interchange project – which includes a bikeway underpass so the Centenary Cycleway will no longer involve a long detour and wait at the lights. The project is currently ahead of schedule – although obviously that’s subject to weather conditions. Thanks again to Jess Pugh MP, Member Mount Ommaney and Transport Minister, Mark Bailey MP for ensuring this important bikeway upgrade was included in the project. We can’t wait!

Spotlight on Rochedale

This is how car-dependency gets baked-in: Rochedale is a rapidly growing suburb in Brisbane’s south-east, where old farmland is being subdivided for residential housing. But there are no walking or cycling facilities connecting the suburb, including along Miles Platting Road which links Rochedale to the nearby Eight Mile Plains bus station – soon to be the start of Brisbane City Council’s flagship Metro. When we noticed that Council’s 2020-21 budget included $1.4million to resurface Miles Platting Road, we petitioned for walking and cycling facilities to be added. Sadly, no, not even an extra dribble of bitumen was provided for a road shoulder. People walking and cycling are left to do so on the busy 70kph road or pick their way through the grass and gravel. Wheelchair or pram? Forget it.

Also in Rochedale: there are 5 schools and a large child care centre within 500m of the intersection of Rochedale and Priestdale Roads, so unsurprisingly it gets very busy at the start and end of each school day. Brisbane City Council and Logan City Council have jointly agreed to convert it from a single lane roundabout to a multi-lane signalised intersection, with the help of funding from the Australian Government as part of their Urban Congestion Fund program.

We’re very disappointed in the draft design. On all approaches, it includes painted lanes that sandwich people on bikes between lanes of motor vehicle traffic. Even for confident on-road cyclists, that can be really uncomfortable – and quite frightening when drivers misjudge relative speeds, or swing out before turning. Vehicles pulling trailers provide an extra thrill. There’s a reason we refer to this type of arrangement as a “green strip of death”.

It’s hard to imagine a child of any age riding on the road through this intersection as proposed, which leaves children and families who want to cycle to school relegated to the footpaths.

The AustRoads guides offer plenty of practical designs for infrastructure to enable and encourage active travel for people of all ages and abilities, and Department of Transport and Main Roads have excellent guidelines for designing roads around schools. This design falls far short.

Speaking of cycling to school, there are some great points in this article by Brisbane children’s author Steven Herrick. We are cheating our kids of opportunities for health and happiness if they are missing the independence, adventures, social connections, and simple joy of riding a bike!

Elsewhere around the suburbs

Last week we met with the Cross River Rail Delivery Authority for a briefing on their latest project change request to allow construction heavy vehicles to use Kent Street (behind the PA Hospital on the eastern side of Dutton Park Station). Those vehicles would cross the path of cyclists using the PA Hospital Bikeway, which is an important and very busy cycling route. We have made a submission to the Co-ordinator General outlining our concerns and what we believe should be done to mitigate the risks. Read more on our latest blog post.

Our favourite part of the Darra Station park ‘n’ ride project is the option not to need a car space at all. The project will include a new secure bike cage on the northern side of the station at the start of the Bullockhead Creek Bikeway, which links up to the Centenary Cycleway. Thanks to Jess Pugh MP, Member for Mount Ommaney for ensuring this was included in the upgrade, and for inviting us along to the “sod-turning” – where Belinda was stood in for Chris from West BUG.

Across the other side of town, did you know that Toombul train station now has its own secure bike storage area? It’s located close to the Kedron Brook Bikeway so if you wanted to ride part way to the city and train the rest of the way, it makes for a great spot. Bookings can be made on the Queensland Rail side here.

In Stones Corner, EaST BUG are happy to report that the lights on the Norman Creek Bikeway between Deshon St and the Stones Corner Library were switched on this week – woohoo!

In the west: a heads up for riders who use the Centenary Cycleway at Jindalee. A temporary diversion will be provided as construction continues on a sewer upgrade. This week (October 6-9) a 3-metre wide asphalt path will be constructed and the existing path closed until early 2021 (weather permitting). The diversion will be in place from Saturday October 10.

Also in the western suburbs, Cr Greg Adermann and Cr James Mackay are seeking public support and feedback regarding reducing the speed limit on Chapel Hill Road from 60km/h to 50km/h.

Chapel Hill Road is designated as a primary route on the Principal Cycle Network Plan, and serves as an important connection between Kenmore and Chapel Hill, and the Western Freeway Bikeway. If you live in the area or ride on Chapel Hill Road regularly, West BUG encourage you to contact both councillors to express your support for this reduction. It also can’t hurt to mention that you’d like to see bike lanes along there too.

Brisbane North BUG are delighted to report that finally, after decades of waiting and many false starts, the vital bikeway along Dickson Street in Wooloowin is actually happening. We’re impressed at the pace so far – they started on Monday, and work is already well under way at Rigby Street across from the station.

An example protected intersection

Melbourne’s first protected intersection is now fully operational. It drew some criticism initially from existing cyclists who were happy to ‘take the lane’ on the road and therefore felt the protected design was unnecessary. But we think it’s important that infrastructure supports people who wouldn’t be comfortable mixing with traffic on the road. At the same time, it also shouldn’t add inordinate delays to a journey by bike (ahem, Gabba Bikeway). What do you think?

You can read more on the project from Bicycle Network.

Australian Walking and Cycling Conference

This week we joined the 2020 Australian Walking and Cycling Conference (which was held online, hosted by Newcastle Cycleways Movement). There were many interesting presentations over the two days, and we will try to capture more in our next weekly digest.

One that particularly caught out attention was a presentation from Transport for NSW about implementing Sydney’s pop-up cycleways – specifically the one on Bridge Rd, Glebe. Some points we found interesting from a technical perspective:

  • The lane was installed quickly using Klemmfix barriers (modular plastic curbing with screw-in bollards). There was something of a shortage of this product in Australia at the time, while people rushed to install pop-up lanes.
  • The bus stop treatments used asphalt to create a raised platform with priority for bus passengers crossing the cycle lane, while the bus stops in the lane – ie. other traffic simply needs to wait behind the bus, similar to how trams operate. (What is it with Brisbane’s obsession that buses need to pull off the road so people driving their own private vehicle don’t need to wait a few seconds?)
  • Space for the bikeway was found mostly from removing on-street parking, but the lanes were also narrowed.
  • As well as narrowing the lanes and installing the plastic barriers, the speed limit on Bridge Rd was also dropped from 60kph to 40kph.
  • One of the conference attendees who lives on/near Bridge Rd commented that the combination of narrower traffic lanes, slower speed limit, and the bike lane providing a buffer made the street feel much safer and more pleasant for pedestrians.

Tuesday Slow Rolls are back on!

Finally, with further lifting of COVID restrictions in Queensland, we are back on our bikes on Tuesday nights! Join us for a socially distanced Slow Roll around the city any Tuesday evening leaving from King George Square at 6:30pm, and finishing at The Montague Hotel in West End.