Well hello… we noticed this week that the counter on the Bicentennial Bikeway has finally been repaired! We think the yearly count has just restarted from where it died late last year. The bikeway is busy, but we’re not sure we’ve had 1.2 million bike trips in the first 3 months of 2020! Anyway, it’s good to see it back in action.
In this weekly digest:
- New bikeways open
- Indooroopilly Riverwalk commences
- Albion Exchange development review
- Coronavirus and road safety
- stay at home viewing
New bikeways open
There was some great news from Airport BUG this week: the Lomandra Drive Bikeway at Brisbane Airport is open! Connecting from the end of the existing path at Viola Place to the Da Vinci Business Park, it offers a welcome reprieve from the narrow shoulders and traffic on Lomandra Drive. Airport BUG are continuing to advocate to have the path extended to Sugarmill Rd, which would allow bike commuters to avoid Lomandra Drive altogether.
New bikeways are always worth celebrating, but since we couldn’t gather on Friday as Minister Mark Bailey officially declared the North Brisbane Bikeway (stages 2 and 3) open, we got into the spirit from home instead.
Looking forward, this week Brisbane City Council released a fly through of the proposed Indooroopilly Riverwalk that’s about to start construction. This project will form part of the Indooroopilly Bikeway between the Centenary Cycleway and the University of Queensland. This section will connect from Witton Road at Twigg Street to the Jack Pesch Bridge bikeway at Witton Barracks Park. Providing a link to the University – Brisbane’s second biggest commuter destination after the CBD – and the high schools along Lambert Road catering for over 5000 staff and students between them, this is a really vital and valuable missing link in the bicycle network in the western suburbs. Check it out:
What happens in the next few years on major developments like the Albion Exchange will set in stone (or rather, concrete) the active transport connections for Brisbane for the next 20-30 years and beyond. That’s why we’ve been so dogged in pushing for an east-west cycling connection at Albion as a vital link between the new Kingsford Smith Drive Bikeway and the North Brisbane Bikeway.
The result is a plan for constructing a bikeway along the northern side of the Albion Overpass—including preliminary structural drawings. We would like to see that project brought forward as a part of an economic stimulus plan and to protect vulnerable road users sooner rather than later.
Our latest blog post sets out the timeline of the Albion Exchange development application, focusing on the need for an east-west cycle connection, and maintaining pedestrian access from Corunna St to Albion Station. It illustrates the importance of continuing to show up, ask questions, and make submissions. Sitting back and accepting that active transport is “all taken care of” comes with a huge risk that it will been forgotten until it is too late!
Coronavirus and Road Safety
In the immediate term, while the response tois imposing more restrictions, exercise and transport by bicycle is still encouraged. But one of the challenges is the requirement to maintain at least 1.5m physical distance from other people. Some of our bikeways are fairly narrow shared paths, and people are rightly taking a break from staying at home to get some fresh air, sunshine and go for a walk. It can be difficult if not impossible to leave a 1.5m gap from pedestrians or indeed other cyclists when you pass them.
Usually we’d be delighted to see so many people out exercising on the new pedestrian and cycle pathway along Kingsford Smith Drive. But right now, that creates a real challenge for social distancing. If the road works were finished, now would be a good time to turn 2 of those 6 general traffic lanes over to bikes and leave the whole riverwalk for runners and walkers. But as that’s unlikely to happen, we recommend avoiding popular times (late afternoon / evening) on this path if you can. For those commuting – take care.
In Calgary, Canada, they’ve responded to the issue by closing one half of Memorial Drive, a 4 lane, dual carriageway urban road that normally carries 28,000 vehicles a day, and opening it up to pedestrians and cyclists to enable people to maintain physical distance.
With road traffic hugely reduced around Brisbane as schools are largely empty, workers encouraged to work from home, and retail activity significantly reduced, we think it’d be a great approach to take here while the lockdown continues.
Meanwhile, transport planners and medical practitioners around the world—and right here in Brisbane—are calling for safer speeds. It will need both state government (who can legislate on a broad scale) and local government (who control most of Brisbane’s roads, and who can implement area-wide changes) to step up to achieve this.
“The evidence for slower speeds has always been strong, but right now we’ve got lots of key workers cycling and walking to work. And we have got kids out there walking for daily exercise. We have to keep them all safe—the case to reduce speeds has never been stronger.”
Swings and roundabouts might be closed, but kids are still bursting with energy. Riding a bike with the members of your own household is a good way to get some daily exercise and fresh air. What are the streets, paths and footpaths like in your area? Do you have parks and open spaces you can reach safely while still keeping your distance from others, and without having to get in the car? Right now, the quality of our local neighbourhoods is more important than ever; let’s remember these lessons about what really makes a liveable city!
Stay at Home Viewing
While we’re all staying at home, here are a couple of ways to vicariously enjoy some epic cycling adventures:
In 1939, Cecil Madigan assembled a party of nine men and nineteen camels to perform the first crossing (by non-indigenous people) of the Simpson Desert between Alice Springs and Birdsville. 80 years later, a group of Brisbane cyclists attempted the same crossing. Instead of camels, they used the modern-day ship of the desert – the fat bike. Their story was one of the runners up in this year’s Brisbane Bike Bites Short Film Competition – check it out!
Fat bikes are not just for riding on sand – they were actually developed for riding on snow. Brisbane adventure cyclist Troy Szczurkowski found plenty of that riding through the vast, frozen Alaskan wilderness in the 2020 Iditarod Trail Race, the world’s longest winter ultra race. The event started on 1st March at Knik Lake, Alaska, with participants from around the world following the famous Iditarod Trail on bike, foot or skis for 350 and 1000 miles. Enjoy the great pictures and videos on Troy’s blog.