5 Dec 2021

30kph streets and socialism??

This week in Council, Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner spoke out strongly against 30kph speed limits, claiming these were some kind of socialist conspiracy, rather than the internationally recognised best practice for urban streets where cyclists or pedestrians mix with motor vehicles.

30kph local streets are recommended by Transport Ministers around the world, endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly and World Health Organisation, and are being adopted in global cities such as Paris and London. 30kph urban speed limits are the default in Sweden, Germany, Spain, Wales, and The Netherlands.

There is less than a 10 percent risk that somebody walking will be killed at an impact speed of 30km/h but a 90 percent risk at 50km/h which remains the default on Brisbane streets. Evidence shows that 30 km/h streets where people mix with traffic not only save lives, but also promote walking, cycling and a move towards zero-carbon mobility.

Brisbane’s Lord Mayor claims that anyone calling for safe streets hates cars and wants to ban driving. We think the opposite is true: anyone so strongly opposed to safe urban speed limits hates cycling and walking, and will continue to discourage it.

We call on Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner to take a closer look at the evidence, and consider the benefits of 30km/h speed limits across the city: safer, healthier, quieter, and cleaner streets.

Here in Australia, urban think tank, Committee for Sydney have identified that the “single easiest” way to improve Sydney’s high streets is to lower speed limits to 30km/h.

Brisbane City Council claims to be all about the suburbs, yet too many of our suburban high streets are unfriendly places to walk, ride to, dine at, or shop locally because the emphasis continues to be on unimpeded movement of people travelling by car.

North Brisbane Bikeway

Thanks to everyone who joined us and Brisbane North BUG on Saturday morning on a fun ride along the North Brisbane Bikeway and the missing link through Eagle Junction to Toombul. Imagine being an elected Councillor or Member of Parliament and making it your mission to promote, sponsor, and even initiate opposition to safe cycling routes for people like this. Cr David McLachlan, Tim Nicholls MP, and Trevor Evans MP should be embarrassed.

For more photos and a report on the ride, check out our latest blog post.

Flashback to the 70s

Back in the 1970s, Canberra cyclists staged a demonstration ride calling for more cycling infrastructure. This video from the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia includes some interviews done on the ride by a journalist cycling with them.

Many of the comments are as true now as they were then – people want to be able to ride their bikes to get places, and don’t feel safe having traffic flying by.

When the journalist pointed out that cyclists were outnumbered, the gentleman’s response was: “Perhaps we are today, but as each day goes by there’s going to be more and more problems with motor cars, and more and more people will want to get out of motor cars, and this is one of the alternatives”. Prophetic.

Indooroopilly Bridge

While some of us were on the North Brisbane Bikeway on Saturday, there was also a good turn out at Council’s public information session for the Chelmer to Indooroopilly River crossing pre feasibility study.

Much has been made of the bad traffic congestion across the Walter Taylor Bridge, mainly during school terms, including weekends with junior sport. But history tells us that increasing the capacity of the bridge for cars isn’t likely to make a significant difference; it will simply induce demand for more local car trips.
So it was pleasing to hear a lot of people talking about the need for better cycling facilities to enable kids attending the schools on both sides of the river to get there safely, thus reducing the number of cars doing school drop off and pick up.

Chris suggested that if a new bridge is to be provided, that would be an opportunity to upgrade from the current 4m shared path over the Jack Pesch Bridge to a wider active transport corridor with a dedicated cycle and pedestrian path. He also advocated for a safe cycle route south towards Graceville Avenue, and completing the Indooroopilly Bikeway east past Indooroopilly State High School, and west beyond the riverwalk to the Centenary Cycleway.

Consultation is open at this link. Make sure you speak up for improving active travel as part of this corridor upgrade, should it proceed to further design.

Seven Hills, no footpath

Over to the east side now, and it’s hard to know where to start with this one:

“Brisbane City Council is seeking your feedback about proposed traffic improvements in your area. The D’Arcy Road and Majestic Outlook intersection in Seven Hills, has been identified as a location in the local road network that would benefit from works to improve motorist and pedestrian safety.”

Letter to Residents. But who received it??

They plan to install a splitter island, new kerb and channel, turf, and kerb ramps, and claim this will provide “a safe crossing facility for pedestrians”. Except that there are no footpaths for pedestrians to cross to.

Pedestrians don’t want to cross here – they walk on the road. Because there is nowhere else to walk.

East BUG acknowledge that it would be difficult to construct a DDA compliant footpath here due to the terrain on the corner of D’Arcy Rd and Majestic Outlook. But since it therefore has to function as shared space, we suggest that the speed limit on D’Arcy Rd and Majestic Outlook should be 20kph, with signs alerting drivers to give way to pedestrians.

Howard Smith Wharves

Brisbane City Council’s response to a recent petition about conflict in front of the lifts at Howard Smith Wharves is very weak. Although they have acknowledged the issues, Council have basically shrugged it off as not their problem, saying the lift area has been built as per the approved plans, and hence nothing can be done.

But there are significant ways in which the current area at Howard Smith Wharves doesn’t comply with the approved plans:

  • The bollards across the path in front of the lift at Howard Smith Wharves are not included in the approved plans and do no comply with any relevant safety standards. They have been reported as a hazard, and Council should require the HSW lessee to remove them.
  • The plans for the roadway space under the Story Bridge required a 1.75m wide bike lane to the right of the landscaped island, and with a “material dividing strip” separating that bike traffic from the cars exiting the pick-up/drop-off area. That has not been included, so people attempt to cycle straight ahead toward the Riverwalk are often confronted by drivers coming at them head-on.
  • the plans for the pedestrian connection from the City Reach board walk separated pedestrians from cycle traffic, with connection through an area which has been used for restaurant seating since the precinct opened.

If Council is so insistent that the approved plan must be followed (and hence changes to the lift aren’t possible), they need to be consistent and require that the developer:

  1. remove the hazardous low bollards obstructing the public thoroughfare in front of the lift.
  2. install signage and a material separator to create the bike lane under the Story Bridge as required in the plans, and
  3. remove the obstructions from the approved pedestrian route at the western end of the site.

In their petition response, Council state:

“During the assessment of the original development application, the applicant’s Traffic Engineering team demonstrated that the operation of the shared pathway and lift access for Cliff Lift 1 were able to operate safely. The engineering report demonstrated that the approved site layout and proximity to the shared pathway would ensure the appropriate operation of the area as a shared space.”

But that’s exactly the issue: the implementation of this area does NOT follow the plan that the applicant’s Traffic Engineering team ‘demonstrated’ would operate safely. (Is it just us, or does self-assessment seem really dodgy??)

The current situation is not safe, and if Council are not prepared to insist that the developers should address this by reconfiguring the lift landing, then they should at the very least insist that they reconfigure the area so that it matches the approved plan. Anything else makes a complete mockery of the planning system.

In the CBD, we’re looking forward to the CityLink Cycleway reopening at the bottom of Edward St without the annoying cross-over at Margaret St.

We understand that the lights for the signalised crossing at Alice St are due to be switched on this week, and then work will begin on the construction compound for the CBD to Kangaroo Point green bridge!

Christmas joy

In case you’re still looking for a Christmas gift for a young person in your life, here’s an idea we love – Jill’s joyful ride picture book. By a local author and illustrator and inspired by the awesome active-travel families at Junction Park State School.