First, let’s talk about the heat, and the smoke. Let’s not pretend that the extreme climate conditions we have been experiencing recently are not happening, that our transport priorities are not a major contributor, or that we’re not going to have to deal with more and more days of extreme heat in future – whether we address the root causes or not. If you want to do one small thing for the environment, swap trips by car for trips by bike. If you want to have an even greater impact, join others who are advocating for change before it’s too late!
If you’ve been outside much over the last few days, you’ve probably been shade-hopping, and perhaps wishing that Google Maps could calculate walking and cycling routes to minimise time in the sun. Have you noticed how much cooler it is when you turn onto a tree-lined street or path?
Perhaps you’ve also noticed how often the prime patches of shade are taken up by stationary cars? We’re not keen on bikeways creating acres of new asphalt and concrete coverage in our city, but many of our streets could be reconfigured so that the existing hard surface is better allocated – with space for people cycling in the shady strip, and car parking consolidated to only one side, or moved to private property, leaving more room for trees.
For people who don’t drive or who don’t have access to a car, having the option to take your bike on public transport can be the difference between going to an appointment or deciding to stay home on days of extreme heat because the journey is out of reach. Even for a fit and healthy adult, travelling in the extreme heat is tough, but that effect is exponential for people who are young, old, or suffering a medical condition. That’s why we are advocating for the Brisbane Metro vehicles to allow bikes to be carried on-board (subject to reasonable conditions to ensure other passengers are not displaced).
On Saturday, Belinda took advantage of the rail network for a trip from Coopers Plains to Cannon Hill – which apart from the annoying 17 minute wait at Park Rd was comfortably air-conditioned. She confirms reports from The Translink Ripoff that the velcro straps on the new NGR trains work nicely to secure a bike and make the journey just a little easier than in the older carriages.
Kudos to those working in the heat this week. We noticed lots of work happening on the North Brisbane Bikeway. Just the fiddly bits around the services left to finish in the southern section. It will be great to be safely off MacDonald Rd at last!
The next challenge is now to extend the bikeway north through past Eagle Junction and connect through to Nundah, Toombul and all the communities further north.
Along the river
Council recently released a new master plan for the City Reach Waterfront (the area along Eagle St Pier). This is a critical route for many people accessing the CBD, QUT, and South Bank and South Brisbane via the Goodwill Bridge. One of the features is to be a “wider river promenade to allow more space for people to move” but it’s very clear this is intended to be a slow speed shared area. We’ve seen what has happened in mixed spaces like South Bank and Howard Smith Wharves: insistence that people travelling by bike slow to walking speed and calls for them to dismount.
The difference between travelling the 1.2 km of the City Reach Waterfront at a relaxed cycling speed of 20kph, and riding at 10kph (which is still jogging rather than walking pace, and about the cutoff where it becomes difficult to maintain balance on a bike for non-expert riders) is 3.6 minutes. On Kingsford Smith Drive, Council is spending $650 million in an effort to cut the time for motoring commuters by 60 seconds.
We encourage you have your say on the City Reach Waterfront draft Master Plan, asking for separated space so that the waterfront can be safely enjoyed by people walking and stopping to enjoy the river views, and that it still functions as vital connection to and through the city for people travelling by bike. The survey closes at 5pm Monday 9 December. You can also email the project team.
Meanwhile, work on the City Botanic Gardens Riverwalk appears to be progressing well. Hopefully it will open soon, rather than being delayed until the river hub is also competed. It’s good to see the separated space marked for people walking and people cycling/scooting – similar to the New Farm Riverwalk. That’s all the more reason to continue the separation through the Eagle St Waterfront precinct so that area functions both as an attractive destination and an enticement to active travel.
Attending the last City Council meeting of 2019 this week, Belinda and Matt Antoniolli, independent candidate for Walter Taylor were pretty disappointed in the quality of “debate” from the people whose decisions have a huge impact the health, safety, and security of all Brisbane residents.
It’s tough to establish a profile as a candidate not associated with one of the major political parties—with their big promotional budgets and established media presence—so we applaud Matt for standing up because he wants to see better outcomes for the people of Walter Taylor Ward. Matt has been checking out electric bikes as the antidote to the hills and distance he has to travel to work. Hopefully we can work with Matt to improve our local streets and connect the bikeways so more people can take up this option.
Council might be heading off for a long Christmas holiday, but we’re still rolling throughout the festive seasion. Join us on a Tuesday evening at 6:30pm in King George Square for a slow roll around the city streets. We’ve written to Santa each year asking for a connected network of protected bikeways in Brisbane but the elves seem to keep getting instructions to make fatter roads instead. Hopefully this year we’ll find our wish under the tree…
We aim to ensure that active transport is on the agenda for all levels of government. Although most of our city streets are council-controlled, state and federal government have a big role to play in terms of policy development, funding, and priority setting. Investing in healthy transport pays dividends in improved public health, stronger local economies, safer communities, better environmental outcomes, and a more liveable city. On the weekend, Belinda took a (hot) ride out to Sunnybank to promote that message to Federal Member for Moreton, Graham Perrett MP, State Member for Toohey Peter Russo MP, and Labor’s council candidate for Runcorn, John Prescott. Thanks for the coffee and chat!
Graham asked about an example of a city that was going through the process of retrofitting to make cycling more attractive. An article we posted recently about London is probably a good overview: “For a number of years, ‘smoothing traffic flow’ was at the heart of roads transport…. Higher speed limits were largely unquestioned; pedestrian crossing timings were geared to keeping motor vehicles moving; signalised pedestrian crossings were removed; and roads capacity was increased.” Well London has moved on it seems – with low traffic neighbourhoods catching on, with fit for purpose streets, protected cycleways, and parking charges that are starting to reflect some of the true cost to the community. We know it can work in Brisbane too. We just need to get started! Sunnybank would be a great candidate to transform into a low traffic neighbourhood with an approach similar to that being adopted across London’s boroughs.
While we’re on politics: We did laugh at the The Shovel this week, poking their usual fun at the political establishment. This week’s call for all Australian movies to include at least one road in a lead role, was both a dig at recent public service restructuring, but also a disturbingly believable statement about Australian politician’s love of a mega-road project. We’d like to see an alternative Australiam film industry starring federally-funded bikeways. They would be rated family-friendly, to be enjoyed by people of all ages!
Around the suburbs
Back to local matters, in the eastern suburbs: Colmslie Beach Reserve is one of Brisbane’s gems, but unfortunately, it’s not at all easy or safe to get there other than by car. Council is looking at upgrading the park facilities, and Belinda went along to chat to the project team on the weekend, and lobby for connections between the riverside parks on the south side: Queensport Rocks Park (under the Gateway Bridge), past Council’s new river hub at the end of Metroplex Ave, to Colmslie Beach Reserve, Colmslie Recreation Reserve, and around to the old Bulimba Barracks site.
It was great to hear from Cr Lisa Atwood that she has been having discussions to help progress the missing connection from the Metroplex estate to Colmslie Rd. As well as connecting the parks, that could also be great for people wanting to cycle to work at Australian Country Choice or any of the businesses along Lytton Rd. We also desperately need to make Colmslie Rd and the awful roundabout navigable for people walking or cycling. You can find out more about the proposed park upgrade and have your say via the online survey on Council’s website.
There was a good turn-out to a public meeting called by Jonathan Sri, Councillor for The Gabba on Saturday evening to discuss the future of the intersection of Main St and Riverside Terrace at the top of the Kangaroo Point cliffs. Council is proposing to add a lane to reduce conflict between vehicles waiting to turn right after the Story Bridge onto River Terrace and those going straight ahead on Main St. Although that makes short-term sense, it is likely to simply replace one problem with another one. There’s increasing community awareness that trying to speed up traffic and “increase flow” is a fool’s errand. What we need instead are safer and more inviting options for people to walk, cycle and take public transport instead. Everyone was in support of proper pedestrian crossings (not just refuge islands) on River Tce, and almost everyone favoured dropping the speed from 60kph to 40 or 30 – which is faster than traffic travels now during peak times anyway, but would make the area far more hospitable at other times. There was also a lot of support for the idea of a “Sunday Street” event to demonstrate how River Tce could feel as if it were totally traffic free.
From West BUG this week: The Guyatt Park CityCat terminal has reopened and it looks fantastic- particularly the bike parking right down at the terminal itself. Cr James Mackay hosted the official opening on the weekend.
Also the western suburbs, Chris have been out and about checking out the Christmas lights. As he puts it: “driving is a pain” Go by bike instead, and enjoy the cooler evening air, and the option to stop and admire the pretty lights in your own time. Here’s a few of the best Christmas light displays from around the Centenary Suburbs:
In Global News
People around the world are increasingly asking: Why are our governments so determined that a mode of transport which is incredibly damaging to our health, society, economy and environment should be not only accommodated, but prioritised? Whether the alternative is walking, public transport, cycling, scooting or some other form of micro-mobility depends on the circumstances, but one thing should be clear: it’s time to start prioritising ANYTHING BUT CARS!!
On speed limits: Once people get a feel for how much more comfortable, quiet, and safe their local streets are at 30kph, most support the initiative. Dublin has been working towards slower speed limits for a decade, and their latest proposal to drop all streets (except a few urban arterials) to 30kph attracted 900 submissions – almost 700 of which supported the plan. From next year, Dubliners will be enjoying safer, friendlier, healthier neighbourhoods.
Bridge envy! Copenhagen has a new pedestrian and cycling bridge, which has been “gifted” to the city by developers – but doesn’t funnel users into a casino precinct like Brisbane’s next bridge at South Bank will. It’s an opening bridge to allow for tall maritime traffic – which would be perfect for a bridge at Bulimba. The deck is 7m wide, with space marked for pedestrians (3m) and for people cycling (4m). Let’s hope Brisbane City Council at least follows that lead for the Kangaroo Point Bridge. Copenhagen’s Lille Langebro Bridge doesn’t have shade structures though, which is something we’d definitely like to see for Brisbane’s new bridges.
You might have heard of the “Dutch Reach” which encourages car drivers to use their opposite hand to open the door when getting out, in the hope that in doing so they will turn and see a person on a bike approaching. It’s a nice idea, but one which relies on good habits by those who don’t have skin in the game like a person cycling. Blogger Ranty Highwayman discusses why design-led solutions are better; streets in which no-one feels that they need to ride in the door zone in the first place. “We can educate and enforce until we are blue in the face, it is never going to be enough.” If you want to import something Dutch to keep people safe, then import “Sustainable safety” because it’s the only thing which keeps people safe 24 hours a day and all year round.
Finally, if you’re looking for inspiration, watch this before and after video of cycling the Naschmarkt in Vienna, one year ago and now. It can be done on our streets if we chose wisely!