Do you have your tickets to the Brisbane Bicycle Film Festival on Saturday 14 March yet? It’s a once-only event; you don’t want to miss your chance to see the Brisbane Bike Bites short film competition finalists on the big screen at the Schonell Theatre. Here’s a tiny sneak peek:
A shout out to everyone who dropped by our stall at the Davies Park Markets on Saturday morning. We had some great conversations about bikeways in Brisbane (mostly people asking “why aren’t there more protected bikeways; why don’t they connect; and what’s with cars parking in bike lanes?”). It’s exciting to see so many cargo bikes already in use as family transport in West End, and the bike racks were overflowing all morning. We hope to see you at our cargo bike expo and bicycle film festival this week.
On the election trail
Cr Ryan Murphy is the first LNP councillor to have joined us for two bike rides; a few years ago as the Doboy Ward councillor, and now representing Chandler Ward. On Friday morning Belinda and Ryan did a hilly 12km circuit around Carindale, including some excellent parts of the Bulimba Creek Bikeway, as well as some of the older paths where the borrowed mountain bike with wide tyres and suspension was well-suited. Bulimba Creek Bikeway has a big discontinuity at the Pacific Golf Club, and riding around requires tackling some steep hills. It was an opportunity to talk about options to improve the connections to make the bikeway accessible to more people. It’s good to hear this is one of the councillor’s top priorities.
Ryan told the story of his younger brother losing his brakes on Pine Mountain Road on a family bike ride 20 years ago, and careening down the hill into Bulimba Creek while his dad said something like “oh dear, what am I going to tell your mother?” Fortunately we didn’t have any such issues today, but later as we sailed down the hill on Scrub Rd (which has a fantastic view of the city and suburbs from the footpath at the top), Belinda did think: what am I going to tell the Lord Mayor if his candidate gets wiped out by a car door or a left-hook? Thankfully all went well.
We also spoke about the need to improve Old Cleveland Rd (where we rode some way on the road, and then retreated to the footpath where the shoulder fades out), and ways to improve active travel to Citipointe Christian College to help defuse some of the school-traffic chaos on Wecker Rd.
Also this week, Donald and Paul from Brisbane CBD BUG met with the sitting councillor for Central Ward, Cr Vicki Howard. They discussed opportunities to improve the cycling environment in Central Ward and ways to make the streets quieter and more appealing. Also on the agenda: connections to the promised new Kangaroo Point Bridge, and of course, a #minimumgrid of protected bikelanes in the CBD – which remains our number one priority for the inner city.
Chris met Labor’s candidate for Jamboree Ward, Rachel Hoppe and Patrick Condren at Rocks Riverside Park to talk about opportunities to fix missing links in the cycling network in Jamboree Ward.
Jamboree has the excellent Centenary Cycleway running north-south, but getting to it can be a challenge depending where you live. There are also many missing or inadequate links that, if completed, would make cycling to local schools, train stations and shops much more appealing. We’re pleased about Pat’s commitment to convene a Lord Mayor’s Advisory Group which will help give local BUGs like Brisbane West BUG input on which of those local links should be highest priority.
Then on the weekend, Chris was joined on a bike ride around Jamboree Ward by the LNP candidate, Sarah Hutton. Their loop from Mt Ommaney Centre passed 3 primary schools, several kindergartens and childcare centres, the local Scout hall and the Middle Park shopping centre, demonstrating how many destinations can be easily reached by bike.
With three young children, Sarah is keenly aware of the benefits independent travel has for kids, but also understands the concerns for safety. Sarah noticed how small improvements, like zebra crossings, kerb ramps and slightly wider paths could make a big difference to existing routes. Chris highlighted the value of Sumners Road as an east-west, all ages and abilities route across the ward, intersecting with the Centenary Cycleway, and that parts of it are already built; the gaps just need to be filled.
To The Gabba Ward next: Thanks to community group Kurilpa Futures for arranging a candidates forum on the weekend, and to Greens candidate Cr Jonathan Sri and Labor candidate Rachel Gallagher for some excellent discussion and thoughtful responses. LNP candidate Nathaniel Jones did not attend*, but supplied a written statement which was read out.
(*It was very disappointing to learn later that Nathaniel Jones’ non-attendance was not due to work commitments; he was at a private BBQ with the Lord Mayor and a small group of campaign supporters, rather than taking questions from the community in a public forum.)
Laurel Johnson from UQ set the scene talking about some of the planning challenges for the 4101 postcode area: it has had huge growth but falls well short of the ideals set out in the various master planning documents; green space is less than 10% of Council’s own minimum standards; and the average number of cars per household has increased from 1.0 to 1.3 in the last 15 years. Combined with a large increase in the number of households, that’s a lot more cars!
Our question from the floor to Jonathan and Rachel was: you have both mentioned the need for protected cycleways—particularly on Vulture St—and also the importance of consulting with the community. But what will you do when some of the community react strongly against a proposed bikeway on the basis that it involves removal of some on-street parking? Especially in the scenario that you’re trying to work with a council administration which seems to want to create an adversarial situation so they can get away with doing nothing.
Jonathan spoke about the importance of getting the community together early in the process to listen to each other and build collaborative consensus, rather than dropping a proposal on them without any supporting information to help them understand the options, implications, and benefits. He supports removing on-street parking to facilitate wider footpaths, protected bikeways, and more street trees, but pointed out that on Vulture St it wouldn’t require removal of all parking and obviously disability parking and loading zones need to be appropriately included. He provided the example of Annerley Rd, which started initially with a trial of peak hour clearways, which were then extended, and later consolidated as permanent bike lanes.
Rachel spoke about the importance of identifying key active transport routes, and planning bikeways from a network perspective, rather than focusing on isolated sections. She also highlighted the importance of harnessing local expertise and knowledge, and planning for transport infrastructure at the same time as development.
These were good points, and there were many covered in the 90 minute session which we can’t possibly do justice to in a quick summary. There are two more Gabba candidates forums coming up, which we encourage anyone in the ward to get along to: Politics in the Pub, organised by West End Community Association (WECA) this Wednesday 11 March, and then on Wednesday 18 March at Wandering Cooks.
Labor’s candidates for Bracken Ridge, Cath Palmer and for Lord Mayor, Patrick Condren made an exciting announcement this week: (if elected) they have committed $20million to fix the Barfoot St tunnel at Bracken Ridge. The tunnel runs under the Gateway Motorway and Bracken Ridge Rd connecting the Gateway North Bikeway to the Deagon Deviation Bikeway via Barfoot St. (Although it runs under a TMR-controlled road, we have confirmed the tunnel and connecting paths are council assets).
Currently the northern entrance to the tunnel is down a tight ramp or a set of stairs. Because it feels enclosed and isolated, the tunnel is not used much, and that in turn increases the feeling of danger. An upgraded entry, better site lines, improved lighting, and CCTV will make a world of difference for this really useful connection. Thanks to Rebekah from Brisbane North BUG for highlighting the issue earlier this year, and to Cath and Patrick for listening and committing to act.
International Women’s Day
On International Women’s Day, we gave a shout-out to all the women who have put themselves forward to represent their communities in Brisbane City Council. We’ve seen first hand that campaigning is hard work, and it’s still an unfortunate thing that women who stand for public roles are too often the target of some pretty poor behaviour. We need a good gender balance in council if we are to see a city that is welcoming and inclusive for everyone. Looking through our recent photos, we realised that the female candidates have been very willing to engage with us on cycling issues, and we thank them for that.
Better Bikeways for Brisbane Program Review
Now that the university semester has started we’re seeing good numbers using the Woolloongabba Bikeway. Anecdotally, the percentage of female riders has increased too. The counter on Stanley St is regularly registering over 1200 riders per day, despite many people still riding on the opposite side of the street because they’re heading to Vulture St, Grey St, or the hospital. And the counter doesn’t appear to pick up e-scooters either.
So, despite the excruciating signal timing (discussed below) and a few flaws in the design, the bikeway is very popular and getting more so. There are huge numbers of people who want the option of cheap, healthy, and convenient travel. Make it safe, and they will ride (or scoot)!
The Woolloongabba Bikway is the subject of episode 2 of our review of Council’s Better Bikeways for Brisbane program:
Finished in late 2019, the separated bikeway along Stanley St completes a rideable route from the Goodwill Bridge to The Gabba stadium (although it stops just short), which Bicycle Queensland and the BUGs spent more than a decade campaigning for. The project scope was also expanded to improve the on-road bike lanes on Annerley Rd, which is a popular route to the University of Queensland via the Eleanor Schonell Bridge.
Council allocated a total of $17.3 million over 3 budget years, and we know (from their response to a Right to Information request) that their total spend was $19.1 million. We don’t know if that includes $2 million received from the Queensland Government (source: QTRIP).
The project was revolutionary for Brisbane, as it reallocated sections of road space that were previously used for general traffic lanes and parking. It also includes Brisbane’s first “floating” bus stops. Over 1,200 people use the bikeway on an average weekday, according to the counter on Stanley St (which doesn’t register scooters). But the experience is marred by the long wait times at traffic lights. There are double crossing delays imposed at Vulture St and Annerley Rd, and for riders heading east the light timings guarantee further long delays; with riders forced to wait at every major intersection.
In this example, at a quiet time of day, the outbound trip of 1.2km took 10 minutes, 60% of which was spent stationary waiting at traffic lights. Council’s mantra of “getting you home quicker and safer” apparently doesn’t apply if your journey is by bike!
Budget total: $17,282,000
Final amount: $19,100,000
(but does that included $2,000,000 from Queensland Government?)
Length of protected bikeway: 1.5km
(1.2km on Stanley St, plus sections on Annerley Rd)
(Fully separated, but signal timings are dreadful.)
Completed: Late 2019
Council ward: The Gabba
Around the Suburbs
The Department of Transport and Main Roads has been working to improve the intersection of the Centenary Cycleway and the Canon Garland Overpass to Mount Coot-tha, where one of Brisbane’s busiest commuter routes meets one of the city’s most popular recreational routes up the mountain. We know a few crashes have happened here, including one involving a current Lord Mayoral candidate, so we think these improvements will be welcome. Work looks almost done, and the widened path with dedicated right turn lanes looked to be working smoothly Saturday morning!
The overpass was named Canon Garland Overpass in October 2019 in honour of Canon David Garland, who championed the establishment of Anzac Day as we observe it now.
West BUG also report: Last year concerns were raised by a number of people walking across the Jindalee Bridge that they were abused by some cyclists who claimed it was bike only. It’s not, and has never been – it’s a shared path. In response, Department of Transport and Main Roads has installed new signage and pavement marking to make it clear that it is a shared path, pedestrians may be present and slow down. We think it’s quite effective and should reduce the confusion.
It is a painfully narrow path – about 2m wide – that is one of if not the weakest links in the Centenary Cycleway between Toowong and Mount Ommaney. It’s also the only cycle or pedestrian path between Jindalee and Fig Tree Pocket. It’s been made worse by the recent subsidence that has caused the path to slip, leaving it exceedingly narrow in that location. We are still waiting for an update on when that will be repaired. It won’t be an easy job. The good news is the business case for a new Centenary Bridge is complete, and part of that will be delivering a 5.5m wide path with dedicated space for cyclists (3.5m) and pedestrians (2m). Hopefully we’ll see some movement on that in this year’s state budget. In the meantime, be cautious, careful and courteous across the bridge.
On the east side, EaST BUG were disturbed to find evidence indicating someone recently crashed at high speed at the intersection of Wynnum Rd and Wendell St, Norman Park. Hopefully no-one was on the footpath/bikeway nearby at the time! It is shameful that Council has dismissed pleas to improve this intersection for people walking and cycling at the same time as they are spending $30 million on the Wynnum Rd Stage 1B project to improve this section of road for people who drive.
In Other News
While our morning commutes are still hot, Holland Park cyclist Troy Szczurkowski just set out on a journey on a different scale: he’s cycling 1,000 miles across Alaska on the Iditarod Trail. (Yes, the one made famous by the sled dog race). Troy is a veteran of this crazy endurance race, and could be in with a good chance of winning this year; the harsh conditions make it an event that favours those who are well-prepared. We’ve been tracking his progress online.
Brisbane Bicycle Film Festival
There’s less than a week now until the Brisbane Bicycle Film Festival…
OK, so that wasn’t really a remote location, but this one is: We don’t want to give too much away, but one of the finalists in the 2020 Brisbane Bike Bites short film competition has some amazing footage of a group of cyclists from Brisbane making their way across one of the most remote parts of Australia. You won’t want to miss seeing this on the big screen!
Get your tickets now for the Brisbane Bicycle Film Festival on Saturday 14 March. We can’t wait to see you there!