There was significant news in the advocacy space on Friday, with Bicycle Queensland announcing that their CEO Anne Savage has tendered her resignation, effective 1 September. Over the last 18 months in the role, Anne has done an enormous amount to get everyday cycling noticed in the media, and has been fearless in advocating to people in positions of power and influence for better funding, policies, and action to support safer cycling. She has gone above and beyond to reach out and support people who have been injured while cycling and to be there for Queensland families who have tragically lost loved ones. Anne will leave hard shoes to fill – and not just because they’re small pointy-heeled boots!
This week saw more progress on the Woolloongabba Bikeway, including “keep clear” markings where the slip lane crosses the bikeway near Hubert St. This is nice in principle, but doesn’t work in practice because there’s not room for even a small vehicle to wait between the bikeway and the road. Frustratingly, at this location (which is the busiest crossover on the Stanley St section of the Woolloongabba Bikeway), there is room to curve the bikeway to the left behind any waiting car. Apart from being frustrating, the situation gets dangerous when a second driver in line decides the give way rules then don’t apply to them, and barges through the people on bikes who have waited for the first vehicle to clear. And yes, everyone who reviewed the plans flagged this issue.
This week also saw work begin on the new Botanic Gardens Riverwalk. The papers from Tuesday’s Council meeting answered our question about the cost and timing: the construction contract was awarded for $12.7million for the period from March to the end of November 2019 (36 weeks). We have questioned if this structure would have been entirely necessary if it weren’t for the Riverhub which is being built simultaneously, and if Council had adopted our recommendations for 2 way-protected bikelanes on Edward and Margaret Streets together with an improved connection to the river from Margaret St as part of the Eagle Street redevelopment. We’re also a little concerned that the new Riverwalk might become isolated for months (or years) in future when the Eagle St development goes ahead and/or when the bridge to Kangaroo Point finally gets underway. But provided that can be properly managed, we certainly welcome a better connection into the Gardens than the current narrow shared ramp.
Riders heading home on the Veloway or through Kangaroo Point got a pleasant surprise on Wednesday night, discovering that a new section of bikeway had just opened: the Kangaroo Point Bikeway along Dock St, between Little Dock St and the Maritime Museum Driveway is now operational, and it’s very nice!!
There was also good news regarding Kedron Brook Road this week – although it’s still in very early stages. Kedron Brook Road is a key route for many people who commute by bike between the CBD and northern suburbs, but the current parking arrangements can make it quite hazardous. Following our petition last year, Brisbane City Council have investigated the feasibility of peak hour clearways, and we’re very happy to learn that Councillor Krista Adams, Deputy Mayor and Chair of the Public and Active Transport and Economic Development Committee has signed a briefing note to move to community consultation. (Subsequent construction would be contingent on this, and subject to funding). We’ll certainly be encouraging everyone to constructively engage.
Active transport hasn’t been on the agenda in Council’s meetings recently though, and it feels like it has been squeezed out now that Economic Development has been added to Council’s Public and Active Transport portfolio. The presentation at this week’s committee meeting was by Brisbane Marketing on Major Events. Cycling was mentioned via the Brisbane Cycling Festival, but only in the context of a sporting and tourism event which really has nothing to do with transport. (For a parallel: it’s nice that Brisbane holds an annual marathon, but not in any way relevant to pedestrian safety or walkability.) Frustratingly, the presenter repeatedly mentioned Brisbane’s 680km of cycleways – which is a long way from the reality of the cycling “network” we experience every day.
In other Council news, we reported that Norm Wyndham retired as Councillor for McDowall Ward after some ill-health. We’ll miss Norm’s voice on Council as someone who commuted by bike, and was always willing to engage constructively (Which is not to say we always agreed). We wish you well in your retirement Norm, and hope you have room to take that fancy e-bike on your travels! This week, Tracy Davis was appointed as the new Councillor for McDowall. She also becomes the Deputy Chair of the Public and Active Transport and Economic Development Committee. Cr Davis is a former state member for Aspley, and was Minister for Communities, Child Safety and Disabilities in the Newman government, and later Shadow Minister for Public Transport. We don’t know if Cr Davis rides a bike, but hopefully we can convince her to join Brisbane North BUG for a ride if she does.
After almost 10 years, CityCycles are getting a rebrand, and going blue. We’re happy to hear that NRMA Insurance have come onboard as sponsors, and hope this will help the public bike share system expand and attract more users.
There were some intriguing hints at Council’s upcoming budget in this article in the Brisbane Times. According to our calculations, $27million in 2019-20 for bikeways would still see Council fall well short of their much touted $100 million 4-year spend on the Better Bikeways for Brisbane program.
We are looking forward to the Indooroopilly Bikeway finally getting underway, as that addresses a very problematic missing link. (It won’t be cheap; we have seen already that Riverwalk structures are very costly to build). We’re also happy to hear about more connections to the North Brisbane Bikeway, but not sure how much this will cost in addition to the $1million already allocated for a connection at Price St (now likely to be Wellington St instead).
At this stage we have no information about the other projects mentioned here: the Wakerley Bikeway ($210,000 was already allocated in 2018-19) and a bikeway in Wishart Community Park ($277,000 was allocated in 2018-19). The Bulimba Creek Bikeway already runs through Wishart Community Park , so perhaps this is a new connection to it? A walking and cycling connection across Bulimba Creek to Prebble St, connecting the rapidly growing areas in Rochedale could be very welcome.
On social media, Deputy Premier Jackie Trad was talking up a record $23 billion investment in roads and transport in the budget the Queensland Government will hand down on Tuesday. It’s always a bit concerning when we hear governments talking excitedly about road-spending… Do they really mean safer roads for all Queenslanders – or just people who drive??
There have been some positive signs from the Queensland Government in recent years, with bikeways included in major road projects. We’ve seen the Gateway North Bikeway delivered, and a big improvement for cycling along the Ipswich Rd corridor at Oxley, as well as projects like the Veloway and North Brisbane Bikeway. We hope that will continue and gain momentum.
The United Nations Environment Programme recommends that at least 20% of a government’s transport budget be committed to enabling walking and cycling infrastructure to save lives and reverse pollution. Will we see a $4.6 billion investment in active transport projects in the budget on Tuesday?
Green Bridge: Toowong to West End
Also this week, State Member for Maiwar, Michael Berkman MP released the results of a survey of over 2,500 residents in which 90% of respondents supported the idea of a green bridge (for walking and cycling) from West End to Toowong, landing at the old ABC site. We were excited to hear that Councillor Krista Adams also supports Council purchasing land to provide a bridge connection at this spot – although unfortunately she doesn’t go so far as agreeing they should purchase the whole site for a public park. This is potentially great news for active transport in the inner south where the population has grown exponentially in recent years on both sides of the river.
On Tuesday, Mitch from Airport BUG joined Katherine Feeney on ABC Brisbane Radio to talk about cycling to Brisbane Airport. This follows Brisbane Airport Corporation agreeing to modify the access restrictions on Hibiscus St to finally allow cycling access to the Domestic Terminal without the need to ride around a hectic multi-lane roundabout. As Mitch pointed out, many people travel for flights with only hand luggage – which is quite feasible to transport on a bike. Additionally, around 23,000 people work at the airport –many of them at the terminal–and they will soon be prevented from taking their bike past security, so active-commuters will be looking for somewhere to park. So now all we need is some secure, undercover bike parking at that entrance to the terminal.
In Other News
Check out this great piece on bike advocacy as it relates to people with a disability. Not everyone with a disability wants to cycle – just like the rest of the population – but many who do find it easier than walking. Their bike/trike is a mobility aid. But using a non-standard bike often comes with extra challenges. Infrastructure to support cycling for people of all ages and abilities is always our goal.
Turn green watching the latest from Streetfilms. Amsterdam is about to remove 10,000 car parking spaces. And it’s not a big deal in the local media! Currently 30-40% of public space is taken up by parked cars, but pilot projects have demonstrated how transformational it can be when that space is returned to the people.
This week was cold (for Brisbane), so we posted this reminder of how good we really have it compared to some other cities where you need to be much more badass to ride in winter. And, ironically, one of the reasons people (who don’t ride) often give for why Brisbane could ‘never’ become a cycling city is that it’s “too hot“. That was debunked this week by a tweet for the Australian Bureau of Statistics pointing out that the cities with the highest proportion of bike-commuters in Australia include Darwin, Broome, Alice Springs, and Cairns. (Dare we say it, Canberra is also famous for hot air – but they still manage to pedal at higher rates than Brisbane).
For some weekend viewing, we highly recommend checking out the keynote talk by Tim Papandreou at the recent Australian Bicycle Summit. Tim talks about the rise of micro-mobility, electric vehicles, and autonomous cars. He reminds us: The sky is not falling (technology changes!).
Finally, put this on in your diary: The Bikes of Wrath was the feature at our Brisbane Bicycle Film Festival in March, and we LOVED it!!! Australian audiences will have a chance to watch it again or check it out if you missed it, when it shows on ABC Television at 9:30pm on Sunday 30 June.