6 Sep 2020

State Election Campaign

This week, Chris joined Palani Thevar, Labor’s candidate for Maiwar for a ride around Toowong and Taringa. While Palani rode to school and to the University of Queensland across the Eleanor Schonell Bridge from his then-home in West End, it had been a while since he’d been on a bike.

Chris and Palani spent some time looking at Sylvan Road and why protected bike lanes are needed to make cycling between the Bicentennial and Centenary bikeways suitable for all ages and abilities.

From there they went along the Western Freeway Bikeway, and then through the streets of Taringa, including a brief stint on Swann Road. Brisbane City Council recently lowered the speed limit on Swann Road from 60 to 50, and we’re keen to see the State Government lead by encouraging trials of 30kph speed limits in local residential streets.

Chris discussed the West End to Toowong green bridge, and how State Government support will greatly help make that project a reality. Palani loved the ebike and how it made the hills effortless, which is really important in a hilly electorate like Maiwar.

Donald from Brisbane CBD BUG caught up with Kirsten Lovejoy, Greens candidate for McConnel for a ride around the inner city electorate. Kirsten is a very experienced rider and knows the issues facing people cycling in the city very well – including with kids. They discussed connections to Cross River Rail stations, opportunities for a better link to Kelvin Grove and from the North Brisbane Bikeway to Roma St, concerns about the Bicentennial Bikeway at Queens Wharf, the Dexus development at Eagle Street Pier, and the possibility of a pedestrian and cycle bridge from Teneriffe to Bulimba.

Donald also spoke with Labor‘s Grace Grace MP, Member for McConnel via Zoom on Friday. (We don’t have a picture for this, so here’s one we prepared earlier 😉 ) It was an opportunity to catch up on a number of issues we’ve previously spoken about, including cycling connections to the Cross River Rail stations, links from the CBD to Kelvin Grove, concerns about the Bicentennial Bikeway through Queens Wharf, the Dexus development at Eagle St, and a river crossing from Teneriffe to Bulimba.

Grace has always been supportive of our calls for protected cycle lanes in the CBD, and was proud that the State Government is providing $5million for stage 1 (Elizabeth and Edward Streets).

Curiously, Donald highlighted the ongoing issues at Howard Smith Wharves, which are frustrating for residents relying on the New Farm Riverwalk as their active travel connection to the CBD. Grace stressed that this area is Council’s responsibility. We were somewhat taken aback the next day when Grace and Tourism Minister Kate Jones announced the government’s intention to add yet another trip-generator into the muddle; a ferry terminal servicing the Moreton Bay islands.

The state election is now less than 2 months away, so it’s time to get out and talk to candidates in your area and encourage them to make active transport a priority!

Green Bridges

There was plenty of interest at Council’s information sessions on the new green bridges this week. We’re very happy the bridges at Breakfast Creek and from the CBD to Kangaroo Point are being fast-tracked, and want to make sure they deliver the best possible value for Brisbane, with excellent connections to make walking and cycling convenient, safe, and inviting.

The consultation team will be back in the Queen Street Mall (by the Wintergarden entrance) next Thursday 3 September from 11am-2pm. There are also further sessions coming up:

  • Wednesday 9 September 4-7pm Queensland Multicultural Centre, Main Street, Kangaroo Point
  • Saturday 12 September 10am-1pm Cameron Rocks Reserve (near the War Memorial), 79 Kingsford Smith Drive, Hamilton.
  • Sunday 13 September 8am-3pm Riverside Markets, City Botanic Gardens, corner of Alice and Albert streets, Brisbane City

Council staff are doing a great job of ensuring COVID-safe protocols are followed, but if you don’t feel comfortable going along in person, make sure you provide your feedback online:

On the Kangaroo Point bridge, we’re suggesting people show their support for the bridge, and also advocate for the necessary connections to be fast tracked, including:

  • Reducing the speed limit on Main St and installing a pedestrian crossing.
  • Constructing an accessible underpass beneath the Story Bridge
  • Improvements to Deakin St and connections east towards Mowbray Park.
  • A ramp (as well as the proposed lift) from the bridge landing at Scott St down to the riverside bikeway.

Belinda went along to another information session on the Kangaroo Point green bridge on Saturday to ask further questions about connections at the eastern end.

We’re very keen to see a ramp up from the riverside pathway to the bridge landing at Scott St. There are challenges for making such a ramp DDA compliant, but there will also be a lift and stairs, so perhaps this could be a cycle/scoot-only ramp?

Belinda also stressed the need to do something to calm the traffic heading north on Main St past the Thornton St intersection. That area is currently quite hostile for people walking and cycling.

Work is currently underway further along Main St to enlarge the intersection with River Terrace, and the curb is being moved slightly to allow for the shared path to be widened to 2.5m. But that is the absolute minimum in the AustRoads standards for a shared path, which is already above capacity.

Use other path

This week there was much excitement about the 2020 AFL Grand Final coming to the Gabba Stadium, but across the road there was a nightmare unfolding for local pedestrians and cyclists. The footpath and pedestrian crossing in front of the “Silk One” development at 825 Stanley St, Woolloongabba was fenced off, and the construction management plan seems to indicate it could be closed for the duration of works. Since this is the first of three 20+ story towers, that could mean this busy footpath opposite the Gabba Stadium and en-route to East Brisbane State School is closed for years!

It’s a long slow detour for pedestrians, and pushes inbound cyclists onto the road to mix with heavy traffic. People heading east have already been spotted taking their chances cycling and scooting along the edge of the road towards oncoming traffic. We fear this will not end well.

We were left wondering: how could this have been approved? There are 4 inbound traffic lanes here; why not use barricades to reclaim one of them for people walking, scooting and cycling? Why is the speed limit still 60kph? Has anyone actually timed how long the “approved”detour would take and checked out some of the dodgy infrastructure involved??

We don’t oppose development in inner city areas like Woolloongabba, but are horrified by the contempt shown for people taking active transport.

The Brisbane Times took up the story, and we were happy to notice a small improvement by the weekend: the pedestrian crossing was open again. It happens far too often in Brisbane; private construction sites take control of footpaths for months and years at a time, leaving people walking and cycling to “use other footpath” even when that’s really inconvenient and unsafe.

We’ve previously petitioned council to extend the Woolloongabba Bikeway east along Stanley Street, and recommended that a lane of general traffic should have been reclaimed here to allow more room for people walking and cycling in response to COVID. To now discover that the opposite has occurred – space has been closed off – is very frustrating. The current arrangements are unsafe.

Disruption at South Brisbane

Riders who use Grey St in South Brisbane: be aware that work has started as part of the Brisbane Metro project to relocate sewer mains. This is in addition to construction already underway to widen the intersection of Grey St and Stanley Place. (What a shame that a public transport project has been the catalyst for widening a number of nearby intersections to cater for increased motor vehicle traffic, rather than simply allowing for the natural ‘traffic evaporation’ effects.) Look out for disruptions over coming months, and take care on the variable surface conditions. You can find the latest construction updates on Council’s website.

There’s more disruption coming to South Bank, with the Cultural Centre Boardwalk set to be closed for much needed rehabilitation work from next Monday, 7 September until mid 2021. Unfortunately that means a long detour for people walking from the Kurilpa Bridge to the main South Bank Promenade, and an awkward route for people cycling.

The official detour recommends Stanley Place, the Cultural Centre tunnel, and then getting back to the riverfront under Victoria Bridge. But as some will know, that’s quite awkward. Riding past QPAC to Russell St might be a better option (but beware of construction activity there for the new Neville Bonner bridge).

We note that this alternative route requires some on-road cycling. Even though the Cultural Centre tunnel is effectively a carpark entry, some drivers can still be quite impatient and aggressive. Stanley Place itself is busy, and there is a lot of potential for interaction with buses.

For more information, see Council’s web page.

Campbell St, Bowen Hills

Speaking of disruption, a few people have contacted us with concerns about the work on Campbell St, Bowen Hills associated with the Wren Medical Precinct. The spot where the North Brisbane Bikeway intersects Campbell St can be a bit confusing at moment, with barriers blocking off part of Campbell St while work is being undertaken on the underground services.

North-bound cyclists taking the official detour via Sneyd St need to cross Campbell St before the barricades, and use the footpath (shared path) on the northern side to reach the North Brisbane Bikeway entry. Riding southbound, the detour signs direct riders to turn left towards Sneyd St, but those who prefer to take Wren St will also need to use a short section of footpath, and beware that there may be daytime closures of Wren St (with traffic control in place). We understand that the Campbell St crossing should be reinstated in a couple of weeks.

The good news is that the development includes an easement for the bikeway, and will eventually deliver a quality 3m path with a gentler gradient than the previous section between Campbell St and O’Connell Tce. You can see the outline now.

Walter Taylor Bridge Disruption

Residents in the western suburbs are facing disruption too, with closure of the footpath on the Walter Taylor Bridge at Indooroopilly coming up from mid-September 2020 to January 2021.

Brisbane City Council has announced they are working to replace the bearings on the Walter Taylor Bridge to ensure its integrity in the years to come. Unfortunately to do so they need to close the footpath for the duration of the project, as equipment will be protruding over the path and making it unsafe.

This is quite an inconvenience, particularly for students at Ambrose Treacy College who either live in Chelmer, or who partake in sporting activities in Chelmer and walk to and from the venue from school. However, we understand it can’t be avoided.

Council has advised a detour via the Jack Pesch Bridge and either the lift or underpass at Indooroopilly Station, or for cyclists, Westminster Road.
The detour suggests travelling down from the Chelmer end of the Walter Taylor Bridge through the park to the shared path on Wharf Street. We note that this path isn’t currently paved, and would suggest this would be useful not only for this detour, but as an addition to the local walking and cycling network.

Trucks in the city

Bicycle Queensland have put together a quiz about heavy vehicles which highlights how little the driver in a standard truck can see when navigating through some of our busiest intersections. In Brisbane, conventional-cab trucks with large forward blind spots are common and there are very few restrictions on where truck-and dog trailer combinations can be used. In spite of recommendations from the Coroner, there are no requirements for basic safety features like under-run protection, proximity sensors, cameras and other blind-spot technology. We are a very long way off the direct vision standards mandated in cities like London, so it’s important to be aware of the dangers these vehicles pose.

On a more positive note about trucks, we’ve recently started to notice more use of smaller spoil haulage trucks without a trailer, and with the cab-over design that gives the driver much better vision of what’s around the vehicle than “conventional cab” trucks with the long bonnet. These smaller trucks pose much less danger to pedestrians, cyclists, motor cyclists, and other road users. They really should be the minimum standard in the city – especially on constrained routes and high potential conflict zones like O’Connell Tce, Annerley Rd, and Vulture St.

We’d like to see government and council projects setting the standard by mandating the use of safer trucks on projects such as Cross River Rail and the Brisbane Metro.

South East Freeway Path Upgrade

There was better news about paths from Brisbane South BUG: TMR have advised that work is about to start to improve the South East Freeway shared path between Ekibin Park South (near Lewisham St) and Sunshine Ave, Annerley where the Tarragindi Bikeway joins. The path will be rebuilt to be 3m wide, and lighting will be completed for the whole section.

Hopefully Stage 2 will soon tackle the path continuing south between the Freeway and Sunshine Ave.

Norman Creek Bikeway

A little further downstream along Norman Creek, EaST BUG report exciting news from Coorparoo Ward Councillor Fiona Cunningham‘s office: Work is about to start on the Hanlon Park rejuvenation project! It will begin at the Cornwall Street end and progress through the park, towards O’Keefe Street in key stages:

  • Stage 1A and 1B: from mid-September to early-mid 2021
  • Stage 2A and 2B and 3A and 3B from early-mid 2021 to late 2021.

Of course this will have a big impact on the popular Norman Creek Bikeway, so please lookout for signage and traffic control.

And the bit we’ve been impatiently waiting for: Council will be constructing an underpass at Logan Road in Stones Corner as part of this project – similar to the access under Cornwall, Juliette and Ridge streets.

“This will provide alternative access under Logan Road to link with Gladys Street. Due to the tidal nature of Norman Creek in Stones Corner, it will not be feasible to make this an all-weather access.”

For more, see Council’s project page.

Another project we’ve been waiting impatiently for for years is lighting along the Norman Creek Bikeway downstream of Stones Corner. We’re happy to report that it’s progressing well.

Bonus: nearby the banana bars have finally been replaced with bollards along Lerna St and at the entrance to Woolloongabba Rotary Park.

Around the suburbs

Elsewhere around the suburbs:

West BUG are just showing off! Check out their pictures of the latest construction on the Indooroopilly Riverwalk:

Brisbane Times reported on the improved design for the Gladstone Rd / TJ Doyle Memorial Drive intersection in Dutton Park. We’re very happy to have been able to trigger a review into the original car-centric plan, and get a much better outcome for school students, local residents, commuters and recreational cyclists. We hope this will also lead to better design for active travel around other new schools.

Last week representatives from Brisbane North BUG, Airport BUG, Moreton Bay Cycling Club and Bicycle Queensland attended a meeting with the TMR Gateway Motorway and Bruce Highway Upgrade project team. The project is to widen the Gateway Motorway from Bracken Ridge to the Pine River, and widen the Bruce Highway and Gympie Arterial Road from Strathpine Road to Dohles Rocks Road. Although primarily a road freight project, 80% funded by the Australian Federal Government and 20% from the Queensland Government, there is an opportunity to include a bikeway beside the upgraded roads which would extend the Gateway North Bikeway and allow cyclists a direct crossing of the North Pine River.

It’s early days yet, with the business case due in 2023, but we were very happy to be invited to consultation and have our input considered from the start of the project. We discussed connections to the existing bikeways, safe crossings of the highway for active transport users and the importance of separated infrastructure suitable for people of all ages and abilities.
For more, see the project web page.

On Tuesday, Council considered the report from last week’s Infrastructure Committee meeting. That included a presentation on the four intersection projects planned for this year under the Federal Government’s Black Spot program. Two of those projects will replace priority-controlled intersections with roundabouts to reduce the crash risk and severity when drivers fail to stop or give way as directed. Ironically, another of the intersections to be “upgraded” in this program was already a roundabout until 2014 when Council and UQ decided it needed more lanes to “bust congestion”. The propaganda about the intersection of Sir Fred Schonell Drive and Coldridge St, St Lucia six years ago claimed the modification would “provide a safer road environment and enhance traffic flow through this busy thoroughfare.” Yet now it’s on the Black Spot list.

It’s time to wake up that adding more lanes to roads and intersections doesn’t make them safer. It doesn’t “bust congestion” – it simply adds more cars. We think it’s time to break this addiction to spending ever more public money on a fool’s errand, and instead invest in options that are better for our communities, our health, our suburbs, and our environment.

Fathers’ Day

Finally, Happy Fathers’ Day! To all the dads, we hope you had a great day on Sunday. For everyone missing their dad today, our thoughts are with you.