5 July 2020

Tragedy strikes. Vale Carolyn.

On Tuesday morning we were devastated to hear that a woman riding a bike had been killed in a collision with a truck at the intersection of O’Connell Tce and Bowen Bridge Road. We held our breath for her family and friends who would be receiving the worst possible news that day, as well as the truck driver, first-responders, and witnesses to the terrible event.

CarolynListerIt was with the heaviest of hearts we later learned that it was our friend Carolyn Lister who was killed while cycling to work at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital. Carolyn was a highly experienced and very careful rider who has biked all around Brisbane as a commuter and in cities all over the world.

Carolyn has been a great supporter and contributor to Space for Cycling, Brisbane North BUG, and Brisbane CBD BUG. Together with husband John, she helped build the advocacy momentum behind the North Brisbane Bikeway back when there was no route and no plans to connect from the CBD to the northern suburbs.

Carolyn’s death at this time and in these circumstances is immeasurably tragic. Our deepest condolences go out to John, and Carolyn’s extended family, friends, and colleagues. We ride with you. 💔

It has been hard to read about Carolyn without tears. There are so many stories of her warmth, generosity, and adventurous spirit.

Memorial (2)But there is anger too. And we need to speak about that now.

We are calling for a full investigation into Tuesday’s incident which claimed Carolyn’s life. Not just into the actions of the individuals in the immediate vicinity and the moments leading up to the tragedy, but an investigation into the design of the intersection, the movement of pedestrians accessing the hospital, the route designed for cyclists to access the hospital cycle centre and the design of the truck and its suitability for use in this place at this time of the morning.

We owe this to Carolyn, and to Rebekka Meyer, and to everyone who holds their breath for a loved-one to come home.

We have confidence that an incident investigation will consider the role of the individuals in this tragedy, but hope there will also be a thorough look into the role of the system and environment. A safe systems approach to road safety says:

“While individual road users are expected to be responsible for complying with traffic laws and behaving in a safe manner, it can no longer be assumed that the burden of road safety responsibility simply rests with the individual road user. Many organisations—the ‘system managers’—have a primary responsibility to provide a safe operating environment for road users”.

Hurry up with the safe infrastructure!

O’Connell Tce was even on the map we generated back in May of the Brisbane streets where we think space could be quickly converted with pop-up cycleways to immediately get hundreds more people cycling. Once that happens, the case for improvements to the initial quick-install infrastructure becomes self-evident.


Meanwhile, we looked on enviously as Sydney opened their first COVID-recovery pop-up cycleways and stated pedalling:

Some online commentators criticised this example as being too narrow, with the barrier too flimsy. We think the point they’re missing is that this cycleway enables people to ride who previously just wouldn’t. Network connectivity is important, so people can get where they need to go without mixing with cars and trucks on the road. Bikeways can be widened and improved later, but first, they have to connect!

Around the Suburbs

In happier news, the Jim Soorley Bikeway is open again! On Friday there still appeared to be a little work left to do at each end and on the surface of the rejuvenated bridge, so please be careful (and as always, ride appropriately for a busy shared path).

When they first learned of plans for the Gateway North Bikeway four years ago, Brisbane North BUG started to lobby for a connection from Weyers Rd, Nudgee. We’re happy to be able to report that construction is finally about to start on the 3m shared path in mid July!

Weyers Road Bikeway Link - project plan-1

West from there, a path is now almost complete along Weyers Rd to Hayden St. Hopefully it will then be continued to Nudgee Station where there is a link to the start of the Downfall Creek Bikeway at Elliot Rd, Banyo.

Across town to Dutton Park, where we might have looked a bit silly with our socially distanced meeting in the park, we had an important conversation: Belinda and Paul met with South Brisbane MP Jackie Trad and representatives from Bicycle Queensland and Cycling Queensland to talk about active travel to and around the new Inner City South State Secondary College, and in particular the changes to the intersection to Gladstone Road and TJ Doyle Memorial Drive which we raised alarm bells about earlier this year.

We pointed out that Department of Transport and Main Roads  (TMR) have a set of policies and standards for designing roads around schools and on major cycle routes, and that both TMR and Brisbane City Council have access to experts who understand good design to facilitate and encourage walking and cycling. But too often their input is over-ridden by a misguided imperative to “bust-congestion” and facilitate “traffic flow”… by which they mean making things easier and more convenient for people in motor vehicles while everything else is secondary. We’re confident a much better solution can be found here, but it will require a change in priorities.

It’s good to have support at both council and state level, and across political boundaries, for making active transport a priority—including active transport which connects to public transport. Now we need to see that translate from good intentions to reality on the ground!

20200702_160828Speaking about the need for State-Council cooperation: in our latest blog post, Belinda takes a detailed look at the plans for Stage 1 of the Eastern Transitway which are open for public comment until midnight on July 12. We’re happy the project will include 3.0m wide shared paths on both sides of Old Cleveland Rd between Narracott St and Creek Rd, but have concerns about the safety and priority of cyclists at the intersections and at the edges of the project. We’ve identified 14 points where we think the plans could be improved, and will include these in our submission. If you ride this way, or live or work in the area, we’re keen to hear what you think.

EaST BUG also report that at Murarrie, the 2m clear bike lane is now complete down the eastern side of Queensport Road,  with no-stopping lines except at the bus stops. No more having to merge out into traffic to get around parked vehicles – woohoo!  It looks like the stencil team is yet to come though. Thanks to Cr Lisa Atwood for following this up; there were a few false starts.

On the western side of Queensport Rd, the bike lane has actually been moved closer to the parked cars which is not ideal, but there is a low parking turn-over here, and you are unlikely to be travelling very fast up the hill in case someone does start opening their door. Someone has even thoughtfully put out a couch in case you need a rest on the climb. 🤨

QueensportRd6We’d still like to see if the old rail line to Gibson Island could be turned into a gentler path to the Gateway Bridge, but in the meantime these safety improvements on Queensport Rd are very welcome.

A little further afield, in the Ipswich City Council area, Chris had a chance to check out some of the of the cycle infrastructure provided in the newest section of Greater Springfield, Spring Mountain. It’s impressive. Along with the new sports grounds and residential developments, the road network has been clearly designed with active transport in mind. The benefits of greenfield development sites to get it right from the start are obvious. Retrofitting is more difficult – not just in terms of cost but in repurposing space already being used.

We lament the fact that the Centenary Cycleway extension from Richlands to Springfield could have been delivered 8 years ago as part of the rail line development and motorway improvements, but was cancelled by the incoming Newman government. It’s still a much needed link, but will cost more to retrofit now – a lesson to remember as we approach the state election in October.

In Other News

JohnPrescottHappy New Bike Day to John Prescott. When he stood as a candidate for Runcorn Ward in the Council election back in March, Belinda lent him a bike and took him on a tour of some of the bikeways, and pointed out some of the missing links in the area. John hadn’t been on a bike in years, but liked the idea of getting around by bike more and being less reliant on driving. Now he has his own two wheels and is off exploring, we’re betting John will soon be wondering what took him so long!

CityOfBurnsideWell done to South Australian local government, the City of Burnside who have started a 12 month trial of e-bikes for staff to get to and from site meetings, home visits, building inspections etc. There are some good cycling connections Adelaide‘s eastern suburbs, but also plenty of places where things could be improved. Having councillors and council staff out and about on bikes is a great way to build appetite for change, and keep their staff active and healthy, as well as reducing the council’s carbon footprint. Brisbane City Council how about it??

Around the World

AnneHidalgoSince being elected Mayor of Paris in 2014, Anne Hidalgo has pushed to reduce car use and boost biking. She has done it by reducing lanes and speed limits, and closing off dozens of streets to cars completely. Of course that has been controversial with some people who think choking traffic is inevitable in a city the size of Paris, but others have been converted once they’ve experienced quieter, safer, more sociable streets, and less polluted air. Hidalgo’s latest campaign to transform 60,000 roadside parking spaces into cycling lanes has just won her re-election by an increased margin. Parisians have chosen “a Paris that breathes, a Paris that is more agreeable to live in, a more caring city that leaves no one by the wayside.” Brisbane, we could choose that too!!