The Cross River Rail Project will deliver a much-needed new train station at Woolloongabba, and an upgraded train station at Boggo Road, Dutton Park.
The State Government is currently drafting Development Schemes which will dictate how the land above and around these train stations can be developed. Unfortunately, it looks like there will be very little scope for meaningful public input into the future of the Gabba and Boggo Rd stations.
So our office is supporting the community to get on the front foot and demand more control over how these sites are developed before decisions are made behind closed doors and the development schemes are released.
The Gabba Station development is not just a train station. This is a 5+ hectare site with huge potential to meet a range of community needs.
Below, you can find info about the alternative visions we’ve produced for the Gabba Station, what we think the government is currently planning for both stations, and how you can make your voice heard most effectively. Please enter your contact details at the bottom of the page to sign up for updates about the growing campaign for a better future for this site.
Alternative Visions for the Gabba Station
Our recent newsletter features two alternative visions for how the Cross River Rail Gabba Train Station site could be redeveloped. These images are not detailed proposals. Rather than purporting to be finalised concept designs, they are simply intended to show what’s possible. Some elements may not be feasible in the proposed context, or not quite what the community really needs. But we’ve produced these drawings to share a wider range of ideas and prompt deeper discussions about how both the Gabba and Boggo Road sites could be redeveloped.
So far, images and videos released by the State Government have shown very little detail about the future of the Gabba site, so I’m hoping these visions will inspire residents to produce your own visions for how this massive 5-hectare publicly owned site can best meet the community’s needs. I don’t accept the proposition that these station sites should be sold off to the private sector and simply developed as privately owned offices and high-density private apartment towers.
Both visions include space for an Aboriginal cultural centre, a 50-metre public swimming pool, a large skate park, playgrounds, sports courts, dog off-leash areas and a wide range of community facilities.
Naturally, we envisage that all buildings would be designed to be as sustainable as possible, with an emphasis on sourcing construction materials locally, and using materials like cross-laminated timber to reduce reliance on concrete and steel. All buildings would incorporate stormwater collection, greywater recycling, on-site organic waste composting, water-smart and energy-smart fixtures and appliances, and solar panels on underutilised roof and awning spaces.
Download: Gabba Station Alternative Visions (pdf)
The Mixed-Use Vision features a couple of office blocks and medium-density and higher-density apartment blocks, containing several hundred dwellings. We believe the government should retain ownership of all dwellings on the site and rent them out as public housing, with rent set at 25% of a household’s income. We envisage that these apartments could be rented not just to high-needs low-income residents, but also to middle-income and higher-income households, creating a diverse community of residents of different backgrounds and financial positions who all live in similar-style housing and have access to the same public facilities. Office space could be made freely available to government departments and non-profit organisations like Murri Watch, or rented out to the private sector as a source of revenue.
The Mixed-Use Vision shows a pedestrian overpass to the Gabba Stadium, which has also been proposed by the State Government. However unlike State Government concept designs, we envisage that such an overpass could also span Stanley Street, connecting cyclists and pedestrians to and from the Logan Road precinct and south-east active transport corridors. This serves a broader range of uses, whereas an overpass to the Gabba Stadium would be of comparatively little value on the many days of the year where large events aren’t hosted at the stadium.
The Blue-Green Vision does not include any residential apartments, but offers more space for sport and recreation, with a full-sized athletics track, as well as larger parks, community gardens and market stall spaces for artisans and farmers markets. The Blue-Green Vision also includes space for natural lagoons and densely vegetated bushland reserves, cooling the city, reducing stormwater flooding, and providing more habitat for native wildlife.
The Blue-Green Vision proposes to work with the sloping nature of the site, nestling a large underground music venue into the corner of Leopard St and the Vulture St motorway slip lane, with parkland over the music venue roof that connects to the existing corridor of native trees around the motorway. This would dramatically improve connectivity for native wildlife moving between central Woolloongabba and Maiwar (the Brisbane River).
If you have further questions about some of the other ideas and elements depicted in these alternative visions, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can add more detail to this explanation. You might also like to share your own thoughts on social media, and post about which elements of the vision you do or don’t like.
What’s currently proposed for the Gabba Station site?
The State Government has provided no clear detail about its plans for the Gabba Station development. As this is public land, the government should be focussed on delivering public housing, community facilities and public green space. However, based on what has already happened to other components of the Cross River Rail project – such as the Albert St station in the CBD – and the commentary so far in government publications, we are concerned that the government is planning to sell off development rights to the private sector to crowd the entire site with highrises.
Priority Development Area Designation
In Woolloongabba, the government has designated a massive area of 21 hectares as a Cross River Rail Priority Development Area, incorporating the Gabba Stadium, the former GoPrint site and other parcels of state-owned land around the motorway. A ‘Priority Development Area’ (PDA) designation is the same mechanism which was used for the Queen’s Wharf Mega-Casino and for the Toondah Harbour development proposal in the Redlands. It allows the State Government to ignore existing height limits and other requirements in the City Plan, and takes away all legal objection rights that residents or other stakeholders might otherwise have.
The new Woolloongabba Priority Development Area
Crucially, under the PDA framework, the State Government is not obliged to contribute towards the cost of local infrastructure beyond the boundaries of the declared site. This means that private developers who partner with the government can introduce much higher population densities than anticipated under the neighbourhood plan, but are under no obligation to help pay for new pedestrian crossings, bike lanes, libraries etc. to support the growing population.
PDA designations have been widely criticised for undemocratically cutting out local residents from having any input into future development plans. They are a mechanism to fast-track development and privatise public assets.
As part of the PDA process, the government will have to release a ‘Development Scheme’ outlining the parameters of how the site can be developed. This document essentially serves as a mini-Neighbourhood Plan, outlining development height limits, site coverage requirements etc. The government says the Development Scheme for the Woolloongabba PDA will be introduced in 2021, after the state election. This means residents won’t know what’s proposed when they go to vote in October this year, and may not know what the various parties and candidates support and stand for.
What’s likely in the new Development Scheme?
In guessing at what the government might do, we can look at the Interim Land Use Plan released by the government in April 2020 when the PDA was declared. The ILUP sets out some development parameters for ‘Precinct 1,’ of the PDA, which is the area closest to the Gabba Stadium, and includes Woolloongabba Place Park. We can also look at the previous (now out-of-date) development scheme for the site from 2011.
On page 28 of the old development scheme, the State Government allows buildings of up to 30 storeys.
Following the plan in the old development scheme, the new Interim Land Use Plan allows buildings of up to 20 storeys within Precinct 1. ‘Precinct 1’ is adjacent to heritage buildings and furthest from the train station entrance itself, so ordinarily you might expect that buildings within this part of the PDA would be shorter and less dense than building closer to the centre of the site.
So this suggests a high likelihood that in the new development scheme, the government will propose multiple highrise towers on the main GoPrint site which are 30 storeys or even taller.
This is clearly reinforced in the illustrative visualisations released by the State Government in March 2020, which also show 12 very tall highrise towers on the site.
While there has been no mention from the government whatsoever of public housing on the Gabba Station, the Cross River Rail website makes it very clear that ‘commercial, retail and residential development’ is anticipated.
So it seems clear that unless there is very strong community pushback and a clear public demand for a different way forward, this entire site will be developed and sold off as privately owned highrise towers, with very little public green space or community facilities, and no public housing.
Why are you opposed to high-density development? It’s a train station after all
In urban planning circles, there is now strong support for concentrating higher-density development around public transport nodes like train stations. When residents have close access to public transport, they are less likely to rely on private cars, which has a wide range of positive flow-on benefits. So-called ‘transport oriented developments’ are certainly preferable to the outer-suburban sprawl developments that have been so disastrously common around south-east Queensland.
However, it’s important to strike the right balance. Residents of high-density development also need access to public green space and community facilities, particularly because they have so little private space of their own. If we are to reduce car-dependence, we need to reduce the need for apartment residents to drive regularly to outer-suburban parks, sports fields and other public facilities that might not be located along a train line.
In evaluating the best way to develop the Gabba and Boggo Rd train station sites, it’s important to consider the broader neighbourhood and citywide contexts, and all the other needs that the redevelopment of public land should strive to meet.
Around the Gabba, all privately owned sites to the north of Vulture St and to the south of Stanley St have already been zoned for high-density development of up to 20 storeys. Further development is proposed to the south-east along Logan Rd, to the west in South Brisbane, and to the north in Kangaroo Point. And yet, the provision of public green space and community facilities like public pools, libraries, halls, and creative spaces is not keeping pace with private development.
As shown by the orange and dark red areas on this BCC City Plan Zoning Map, much of the land surrounding the Gabba is already zoned for high-density development, while very little is zoned green for public parkland...
There is already a chronic shortage of public parkland in particular, and acquiring private land to create new parks would be prohibitively expensive. As more sites develop, the pressure on existing green spaces will increase further. The Desired Standards of Service in Brisbane City Council’s City Plan identify that for every 1000 residents, there should be 1.4 hectares of public parkland in the immediate local area. Woolloongabba already falls far short of this target.
If the Gabba station is developed with a large amount of high-density housing, this would place further strain on public parks and facilities, whereas if it is developed with more parkland and public facilities, this will provide a net benefit to residents of existing and future high-density developments surrounding the train station site.
At a time when inner-city land is in such short supply, selling off public assets for private development is a short-sighted strategy.
Considered in their broader context, it might make sense for the publicly owned Gabba and Boggo Rd station sites to be delivered with a higher proportion of public green space, thus supporting and encouraging high-density living on the private development sites around the edge of each station.
Residents of high-density development around other inner-city train stations also need access to green space. So by providing new parks and facilities at the Gabba and Boggo Rd stations, we can create opportunities for residents around stations like Albert St and South Brisbane to hop on a train and easily access sports fields close to home, rather than having to travel further afield. This in turn increases the attractiveness of high-density inner-city living, and helps our city resist the pressure for more and more outer-suburban sprawl.
What about the Boggo Road Precinct?
The Boggo Road precinct, which includes the State Heritage-listed gaol and the Ecosciences building, is a crucial node of the inner-south side, adjoining Dutton Park State School, the new Dutton Park High School, the PA Hospital, UQ St Lucia (via the Green Bridge) and serving as a major interchange for busways and train lines.
Most of this precinct is State Government-owned land, however there is currently no up-to-date, publicly available holistic vision for how the Boggo Rd precinct should evolve.
The Cross River Rail station development should of course consider the surrounding context, and be planned alongside proposals for the revitalisation of the gaol, future expansions to Dutton Park State School etc. The lack of a holistic plan for the entire precinct is deeply concerning.
BCC’s Dutton Park-Fairfield Neighbourhood Plan articulates some general aspirations, but this neighbourhood plan does not include anywhere near enough public green space or community facilities, lacks detail about the Boggo Road precinct itself, is likely to be overridden by State Government planning mechanisms, and is already out of date (e.g. it does not include consideration of the new Dutton Park high school etc.).
BCC has also recently produced a draft ‘Boggo Road Precinct Renewal Strategy’ which has no legal effect or associated funding, and is largely silent as to how all this State-owned land should be developed and activated, focussing instead on connections to and through the precinct.
At this stage, the only detail that’s been publicly released by the State Government is a 2-minute video overview of the project. The government has emphasised that this video is not a finalised concept plan. The video appears to show large new buildings to the north and east of the Ecosciences precinct, but doesn’t specify what these buildings will be used for, and is silent as to whether they’ll remain in public ownership or will be sold off to the private sector.
Screenshot from the State Government's video of the Boggo Rd CRR precinct showing proposed large buildings in white
The government has also confirmed that the long-awaited footbridge linking Boggo Rd to the PA hospital will be delivered as part of this project, creating a new east-west pedestrian and cycling link between Dutton Park and Ipswich Rd. But there’s no detail whatsoever about how much public green space will be delivered.
To facilitate construction of the upgraded station, the State Government has resumed Outlook Park (which had an area of 1500m2), promising to offset its loss with a new public park of equal quality and size. In November 2017, our State MP Jackie Trad also announced that the 3700m2 triangle of state-owned land between Boggo Rd and the existing Boggo Rd Busway Station would either be used for the new high school or for green space. So if the State Government does the right thing and sticks to previous public statements, the Boggo Road Station redevelopment should include well over 5000m2 of public green space, in addition to concreted public squares and plazas.
Previous government commitments suggest there should be at least 5000m2 of new parkland within the Boggo Rd precinct
I believe the redevelopment of the Boggo Rd Station site must be planned holistically as part of redevelopment proposals for the gaol itself, and other surrounding sites. Neither Brisbane City Council nor the State Government have provided enough clarity about future plans for this area, or given residents any meaningful say as to how all this publicly owned land should or shouldn’t be utilised.
While the area of the Boggo Road Station development site itself is not as large as the Gabba Station, it’s important to understand that the government also owns significant parcels of land around the PA Hospital and train lines. When you consider the possibility of building over parts of the train line in future, and incorporating the storage sheds and carparks along the train line and busway into the Boggo Rd precinct, we’re talking about a total area of 160 000m2 of state-owned land. This is clearly a huge opportunity that local residents should have input into, rather than leaving all the decisions up to politicians and private developers.
Once COVID-19 restrictions ease, we aim to organise further public meetings and events regarding the Boggo Rd site, so that we can push for outcomes that meet the community’s needs and pressure the State Government to stick to its previous commitments regarding the provision of public parkland.
How can we get better outcomes?
Back in the 1980s, property developers were actively lobbying for high-density highrise development along the South Brisbane riverfront between Grey St and the water’s edge. Developers deployed sustainability and affordability arguments for concentrating denser housing near the CBD in order to justify privatising public land and cramming in taller towers along the river.
Fortunately, building upon the momentum of Expo 88, a broad-based community campaign applied enough pressure for a different vision for this precinct to crystallise. Instead of cramming in as many apartments as possible, political leaders agreed to preserve much of South Bank for public parkland and community facilities. Today, South Bank is a destination that locals and visitors travel great distances to enjoy.
To prevent the privatisation and over-development of the Gabba and Boggo Rd Cross River Rail train station sites, and push for positive development outcomes that are in the wider public interest, we will need a similar kind of community campaign that applies pressure on politicians and government departments through a range of channels.
The first step is to raise awareness and broaden the parameters of debate, so that thousands of residents across Brissie’s inner-south side are excited about the alternative possibilities for these sites and are directly contacting MPs to ask them what they support, particularly in the lead-up to the 2020 October state election.
If you want to get involved with this community campaign, please enter your details and sign up for updates.
It would also help if you can write to key government decision-makers as soon as possible to ask them specific questions and share what you think is important.
Please email the following people:
- Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk - email@example.com
- State MP for South Brisbane, Jackie Trad - South.Brisbane@parliament.qld.gov.au
In your emails, tell them a bit about who you are and why you care about these sites, and ask them the following questions:
Roughly how many apartments do you think there should be on each site?
How many hectares of new public green space do you think each site include?
What maximum building height limits are appropriate for both the Gabba and Boggo Rd sites?
Do you support selling off private development rights, or will you fight to retain full public ownership of both sites?
Please also email:
- Minister for Housing and Public Works, Mick De Brenni - firstname.lastname@example.org - ask him how much public housing will be delivered on the Gabba Station site
- Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner - email@example.com - ask him where he intends to deliver new public parkland in Woolloongabba and Dutton Park to cater for new high-density development
Other steps you can take:
- Talk to friends and family and post up on social media about what kind of development you’d like to see on these two train station sites
- Contact other elected State MPs and other state election candidates to ask them whether they support including more green space and public facilities above and around these train stations, or whether they support the State Government’s current plans to sell off the sites for private highrise development
- Get together with a group of friends or a community group you’re involved in, produce your own alternative vision for either the Boggo Rd or Gabba train station sites, and share it with our office and the wider community
Please sign up for updates and encourage your friends to do so too!Sign up
Brisbane City Council’s annual budget looks a little different for the 2020/21 financial year, but in many respects, it embodies the same trends and values as previous council budgets.
The budget includes a disproportionate amount of money spent on intersection-widening and road-widening projects which will discourage active transport and encourage more people to drive. On the other hand, the budget includes very little funding for the arts, community services and public facilities like libraries. They’ve also cut funding to the very popular kerbside rubbish collection service for two years.
Council revenue has reduced noticeably as a result of offering rates discounts, free parking and a range of fee waivers related to the COVID-19 shutdown.
Looking ahead, BCC is continuing to offer property developers significant discounts on infrastructure charges, with the supposed goal of encouraging private development. However this represents a false economy, as it means council won’t have enough money to pay for the public infrastructure needed to cater for further private development and growth (further info on infrastructure shortfalls at this link).
Council continues to under-invest in local active transport infrastructure such as pedestrian crossings, traffic calming and separated bike lanes. Across the entire city, council is only installing traffic calming (i.e. speed bumps or build-outs) on SIX streets this financial year (details on page 148 of the budget under ‘Local Area Traffic Management’). There are dozens of locations in each one of council’s 26 wards which currently require traffic calming, so the fact that BCC is installing traffic calming on just six streets this year is deeply concerning.
Happily, the budget does include a significant allocation towards construction of the Kangaroo Point footbridge, which council is aiming to complete by the end of 2023. Five years ago, the LNP backed away from funding this project, so I’m very pleased we’ve been able to turn that around and secure funding for this important active transport project. Funding has also been allocated for early-stage design and options analysis work for the West End-Toowong footbridge.
I’m also grateful that the council has adopted Greens proposals to introduce a compost bin rebate scheme, where residents can get a refund of up to $70 on the cost of purchasing a new or second-hand compost bin or worm farm. Unfortunately the current process for actually applying for the rebate is much more complicated than it needs to be, and I’ve already asked BCC if they can streamline this.
A huge chunk of council’s budget continues to be spent on general waste collection and management. The costs of waste collection and management are split across a few different budget items, but on average, council spends roughly $200 million every year collecting and managing household waste.
While I was opposed to the decision to cut funding to the kerbside collection program without warning, I think that overall, waste management represents one of the low-hanging fruits in terms of opportunities to reduce council spending. If BCC supported more waste reduction schemes (such as encouraging composting and discouraging single-use packaging) we could drastically reduce the costs of waste management in this city, which would free up a lot more money for pedestrian crossings, community projects and new public parks.
Overall, BCC’s budget continues to follow an unsustainable neoliberal paradigm. Instead of making big corporate property investors and land speculators pay their fair share (such as by introducing a vacancy levy on empty homes and shops), council continues to cut corners and under-invest in essential public services and facilities. Service and infrastructure delivery costs are inflated drastically as a result of outsourcing to private for-profit contractors, while more and more council public servants are casualised or placed on short-term contracts.
Below you can find a breakdown of some of the specific projects that have been funded within the Gabba Ward for the coming financial year. Other local projects will be funded out of generic budget items that haven’t yet been specifically allocated. For example, a lot of money has been allocated towards bikeway improvements, but council hasn’t yet decided which specific projects to prioritise (I am pushing for bike lanes along Vulture St).
Council has also listed several proposals, such as a signalised pedestrian crossing over River Terrace, Kangaroo Point in the vicinity of Bell St, which will be dependent on federal government funding. Normally, council funds some road safety projects using state or federal government grants, but with this year’s federal budget delayed, BCC is still waiting to hear whether funding for such projects will come through.
If you have further questions about any of the below projects, feel free to get in touch with my office. If we don’t know the answer, we’ll try to track down someone who does.
Shafston Avenue, Kangaroo Point - $72 000
Melbourne St, South Brisbane - $398 000
Park Rd, Dutton Park - $244 000
Princess St, Kangaroo Point - $172 000
Boundary St, South Brisbane - $245 000 (partial – not the whole corridor)
Cordelia St, South Brisbane - $491 000
Gloucester St, South Brisbane - $164 000 (partial – not the whole corridor)
Beesley St, West End - $125 000
Buchanan St, West End - $122 000
Hardgrave Rd, West End - $583 000
Montague Rd, West End - $372 000 (partial – not the whole corridor)
Raven St, West End - $61 000 (timing will probably depend on progress of the QLD Ballet development project)
Scott St, West End - $60 000
Ipswich Rd, Woolloongabba - $453 000
Stormwater Drainage Construction and Rehabilitation
Dudley St, Highgate Hill - $168 000
Mollison St, South Brisbane - $1 649 000 (drainage work for West Village)
Ipswich Rd, Woolloongabba - $179 000
(There’s also $431 000 allocated for major drainage work around Logan Rd and Toohey St, Woolloongabba. This area is now outside the Gabba Ward, but I’ve been advocating for this investment for several years so I’m glad it’s finally happening)
Traffic lights for Victoria St and Montague Rd, West End - $7 869 000 (they’ve already spent a couple of million on this in the 2019/20 financial year – commentary regarding the high cost at this link)
River Terrace and Main St, Kangaroo Point - $6 535 000 (I do not support this project in its current form, and consider it a poor use of ratepayer money)
Boardwalks, Bridges and Culverts
Major restoration works for Story Bridge, Kangaroo Point - $13 831 000
Stage 2 of Restoration/slab work for Eleanor Schonell Green Bridge, Dutton Park - $166 000
Cultural Centre Boardwalk Restoration - $1 338 000
Other Public Space Works
Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park – Repairing old wooden bridge (on the path along the bottom of the cliffs), new/restored safety anchor points for rock-climbing - $237 000
‘Main St Park’, Kangaroo Point (this is council’s name for the park beside St Mary’s Church that used to be a TAFE) – installation of irrigation system - $81 000
Sealing and upgrade of carpark in Dutton Park along TJ Doyle Memorial Drive - $180 000
River wall reconstruction near Dock St, South Brisbane - $222 000.
Local infrastructure ‘Suburban Enhancement Fund’ budget - $565 000
As well as all of the above projects, we have a local public space improvements budget that we can allocate towards minor park and footpath upgrades around the Gabba Ward. Council only allows us to use this budget for permanent, physical infrastructure, and not for events, community projects or temporary facilities.
This is the budget that I’ve used to deliver facilities like the Musgrave Park basketball half-court, and the very small skate plaza in Davies Park (yes, I would have liked to make the skate plaza bigger too, but council wouldn’t let us install a larger skate facility so close to land that’s zoned for future residential development).
We are always open to suggestions for minor projects that could be funded out of this budget, and will be running a community voting process later in the year to allocate this funding after further conversations with council about what projects are feasible and likely to be supported by the LNP. Some of the projects we’re currently considering include:
- a wheelchair-accessible pathway link from Riverside Drive up to the Davies Park ring road
- a larger skate park somewhere along the riverfront (finding sites that are far enough away from residential properties is proving challenging)
- paying artists to paint more public murals on existing toilet blocks and council walls
- new native garden beds and bushland reserve plantings in existing council parks
We are also still waiting for council to install a new public toilet block along Riverside Drive, just north of the Merivale St rail bridge (this project was allocated funding out of last year’s Suburban Enhancement Fund budget), and to confirm a proposal for a second toilet block at the north-west end of Musgrave Park (keep an eye on email newsletters if you’d like updates about these projects).
West End Riverside Land Remediation
Previously, council allocated upwards of $15 million towards remediating heavily contaminated parkland adjoining a former industrial site along Riverside Drive near Hockings St, West End. This project has now been postponed for a couple more years, as BCC is negotiating with the State Government and a private developer to remediate adjoining blocks of government-owned and privately-owned land at the same time.
Money for this remediation project is now earmarked in the forward estimates for the 2022/23 and 2023/4 financial years, but as this project depends on negotiation with other stakeholders, it’s hard to say for sure exactly when it will happen.
I’ve spent the past four years listening to the community to better understand what kinds of improvements local residents and small businesses want to see happen around the suburbs of South Brisbane, Highgate Hill, West End, Woolloongabba, Dutton Park and Kangaroo Point.
My vision for the Gabba Ward is continually evolving in response to community feedback, so please let me know what you think of it by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s difficult to comprehensively list all the changes I’d like to see happen in our neighbourhood, particularly the community projects and social and cultural transformations that should happen alongside the delivery of physical infrastructure and government services. Alongside the so-called 'hard infrastructure,' I believe there should be far more council funding and support for community services, sporting groups, and the arts.
The priorities featured below tend to focus on the projects that I think Brisbane City Council and the State Government can realistically deliver in the next few years, but with an appreciation of the need to also plan ahead for long-term challenges.
Rather than vague statements, I've done my best to clearly outline my current position on a range of local issues so residents know exactly where I stand. It won’t be possible to deliver all of this in just a few years, but this is what we’re working towards... If there’s anything you’d like clarified, please get in touch.
Rethinking Development in the Inner-City
We support heavy restrictions on for-profit development within the low-lying flood-prone parts of the Gabba Ward. We support well-designed mixed-used, medium-density development that’s accompanied by adequate infrastructure and services. We support more trees and green space being delivered within new developments. Currently, developers are only required to allocate 10% of site area for deep planting. The LNP publicly committed over a year ago to increase the requirement to 15% but haven’t yet implemented this. We believe all new high-density developments should set aside a minimum 20% of the site area for deep-planted trees.
Streets for People – Reimagining Transport in Brisbane
Our citywide philosophy for reimagining transport in Brisbane can be found at this link. Broadly speaking, we want more pedestrian crossings, wider, shadier footpaths, lower speed limits on residential streets (with more traffic calming where necessary) and separated bike lanes on main transport corridors. Check out the link, and view more details about specific transport commitments below.
Free Off-Peak Public Transport for Everyone
To reduce congestion and improve accessibility and connectivity, we’re calling for free off-peak public transport. We can make buses and CityCats free during weekdays and weeknights in the off-peak period, as well as free all weekend. More details available at this link.
Free Cross-River Ferries and Kangaroo Point CityCat
In addition to calling for all bus, CityCat and ferry services to become free for everyone during off-peak periods, we support making all existing cross-river ferry services free, 24/7. We also support reviewing the CityCat timetable and network to introduce a CityCat service to the Holman Street ferry terminal at Kangaroo Point.
Two New CityGlider Routes
We are calling for two new CityGlider routes, one running east-west from West End to Bulimba, and the other running north-south from Annerley to Fortitude Valley (through Kangaroo Point and Woolloongabba). More details at this link.
Full Bus Network Review
We are calling for a full network review of Brisbane bus routes, with a strong focus on increasing the frequency and reliability of services running through the inner-south side, particularly the 192, 196, 198 and 234 bus routes.
We’re calling for new footbridges from West End to Toowong and Kangaroo Point to the CBD. Other parties have expressed cautious support for these projects, but have not committed to allocating funding for them. We believe these bridges should carry pedestrians, cyclists and escooters, but not buses.
We are also open to supporting the proposal for a footbridge between West End and UQ St Lucia, but believe further detailed research, transport modelling and a cost benefit analysis should be conducted (in addition to more robust community consultation) before any project funding is allocated. A detailed write-up about my position on the footbridges is available at this link.
As part of the Kangaroo Point footbridge project, we believe council needs to deliver a wheelchair accessible Story Bridge underpass. The current underpass between Thornton St and Deakin St has multiple sets of steps and so is not wheelchair accessible. Depending on detailed design and engineering investigations, it may be more cost-effective and less disruptive to create a second, new underpass connecting from slightly further north along Deakin St directly to Scott St.
New ‘Kurilpa West’ Citycat Terminal
Recent and anticipated population growth for the western side of the Kurilpa Peninsula (particularly along Montague Rd) means that new high-capacity public transport services will be needed to move people in and out of West End.
We support a new CityCat terminal being delivered along Riverside Drive. The South Brisbane Riverside Neighbourhood Plan identifies Victoria St as a possible location for a new terminal, however it may be more appropriate to locate the terminal slightly further north near Beesley St to facilitate better access to and from Davies Park.
I do not believe that proposals for a new footbridge and CityCat terminal are mutually exclusive. The two projects meet different transport needs and are complementary. Both will be necessary in order to help inner-city residents transition away from car-dependency.
Convert Flood-Prone Industrial Sites to Public Parkland in 4101
We support acquiring the large blocks of land along the northern end of Montague Rd which are currently used for industrial purposes, and converting these into public parkland and sporting facilities. Sites including Hanson Concrete, Parmalat and I-O Glass are all highly vulnerable to flooding, and are not appropriate for high-density residential or commercial development.
To cater for the green space needs of West End’s rapidly growing population, and to mitigate the negative impacts of flooding, these sites should be restored as public parkland.
This large new riverside park could include dog off-leash areas, a full-size skate park and BMX track, a sports field, a large children’s playground, vegetated nature reserves and outdoor event spaces.
Completing the Kangaroo Point Riverwalk
Completing the missing links of the riverside footpath between Dockside and Mowbray Park is essential to reduce traffic congestion and improve connectivity for the Kangaroo Point Peninsula. There are only a few missing links between existing pathways that have already been completed, and we believe council should allocate the funding to build these sections immediately, rather than waiting years for private developers to do it. The riverwalk should be designed with extra-wide footpaths and clearly delineated separation between pedestrians, slower-moving cyclists, and faster-moving bikes and escooter riders. You can read more about the riverwalk via this link at the section titled ‘Completing the Riverwalk’.
Restore Boggo Road Gaol as a Visual and Performing Arts Hub
Boggo Road Gaol is ideally located along the busway and train lines, and in close proximity to UQ St Lucia, Dutton Park State School and the future Dutton Park State High. This historic site should not be privatised and sold off to developers, but should be restored as a publicly funded music and arts hub, with workshop spaces, studios, rehearsal rooms, exhibition spaces and theatres. Boggo Road could become the south-side sister of the New Farm Powerhouse, celebrating history while providing affordable spaces for artists, innovators and hackers. A heritage museum component and a strong emphasis on history tours and storytelling would allow this precinct to serve as a hub for local history groups and knowledge-keeping.
Separated Bike Lanes along Vulture Street
Vulture St is a key east-west connector across the Gabba Ward, but riding between West End and Woolloongabba is currently quite dangerous. Existing narrow footpaths can no longer safely accommodate rising numbers of cyclists and escooter riders, so it is imperative that council creates safe, separated bike lanes running along Vulture St from Montague Rd, West End to Christie St, South Brisbane. This would provide a direct connection to the Goodwill Bridge and to the new Woolloongabba Bikeway along Stanley Street.
Safer separated bike lanes are also needed along other main roads such as Montague Rd and Gladstone Rd, however we currently consider Vulture St to be the highest priority.
Convert roadway into parkland at southern end of Boundary St
Regardless of whether a new footbridge is delivered between St Lucia and West End, we have an amazing opportunity to create more useable public green space at the southern end of Boundary St by combining under-utilised roadway with the neighbouring block of State-owned land at the corner of Dudley Street. Boundary St could end at the intersection with Glenfield St, and the roadway could be ripped up to create a riverside public park with an area of over 3300m2.
Aboriginal Cultural Centre in Musgrave Park
Local Aboriginal community groups have been advocating for decades to establish a purpose-built cultural centre in Musgrave Park. This project should be designed, led and controlled by First Nations peoples, with funding from all levels of government. Council should play a supporting role in delivering this project, facilitating conversations and providing access to resources and support staff to empower Aboriginal community leaders to deliver this project.
Redevelop Kurilpa Hall and Library as a Multipurpose Community Facility
We support converting the carpark of Kurilpa Library and the adjoining Kurilpa Hall site into a multistorey multipurpose community hub that caters for the community’s changing needs. We believe a redevelopment of this site should respect the heritage and integrity of the historic Kurilpa Library building. A redeveloped community facility would include space for the Australian Pensioners and Superannuants League organisation that currently manages the existing Kurilpa Hall, as well as a wide range of other community groups and projects.
An expanded library would include dedicated meeting rooms, fully accessible toilets and a wider range of resources. Depending on further community consultation, it could be possible to design a dedicated theatre space or concert hall within the facility, but such elements would require careful design and extensive sound-proofing to avoid negative impacts on neighbours. We are calling for multiple rounds of detailed community consultation and an inclusive participatory design process before any changes are made to the existing facility.
Composting and Sustainable Waste Management
The Greens are calling for free green bins for every household, in order to divert organic waste from general landfill. We are also calling for the green bin service to be adapted so it can accept food waste too. Organic waste can be composted and reused for gardens. The gases from composting organic matter can be captured as a source of energy.
We also support establishing more community composting hubs particularly within the inner-city, and are calling for more council funding and support to train apartment block residents how to manage community composting hubs on their own apartment block sites, while also establishing more hubs in public parks alongside community gardens.
We are calling for a vacancy levy on all homes, shops and vacant lots that are left empty for more than six months without a valid reason. A vacancy levy would reduce homelessness, place downward pressure on residential and commercial rents, and help bring life back to struggling shopping precincts. More details about this policy can be found at this link.
Default 40km/h Speed Limit
We support a default speed limit of 40km/h on all streets in the Gabba Ward, with the exception of some sections of Ipswich Rd, Main St, and Shaftson Avenue. I believe that even busy roads like Dornoch Terrace, Montague Rd, Gladstone Rd, River Terrace, Cordelia St, Merivale St, Vulture St and Stanley St should all eventually be reduced to a limit of 40km/h, but that this transition should happen gradually alongside other changes to road design and transport services.
New Pedestrian Crossings
The Greens have called for council to create 250 new pedestrian crossings around the city each year. We have recently secured funding for new traffic lights at the intersection of Victoria St and Montague Rd (near the West End Aldi) and work will be starting soon.
Traffic lights will also be installed along Gladstone Rd near TJ Doyle Memorial Drive to connect the new Dutton Park State High School to the Dutton Park green space.
Looking ahead, we believe that within the Gabba Ward, the highest priority locations for new crossings are:
- Boundary St near Brighton Rd
- Dornoch Terrace-Hampstead Rd intersection – possibly lights, depending on detailed investigation)
- Gloucester St-Stephens Rd intersection
- Leopard St, Kangaroo Point – zebra crossing near Lockerbie St
- Montague Rd – traffic lights near Donkin St
- Montague Rd – traffic lights at/near Ferry Rd
- Multiple locations along Dornoch Terrace - unsignalised zebra crossings
- River Terrace, Kangaroo Point – traffic lights near Bell St, and a new zebra crossing north of Paton St
- Vulture St near Exeter St, West End
- Vulture St near Thomas St and Bunyapa Park
- Wellington Rd – traffic lights near Mowbray Terrace and Toohey St
Safety Upgrades for Existing Pedestrian Crossings
Many pedestrian crossings throughout our city need major safety improvements. We believe the highest priorities for safety upgrades to existing crossing points are:
- Converting the intersection of Hardgrave Rd and Vulture St into a four-way scramble crossing (like the Boundary St-Vulture St intersection)
- Redesigning the zebra crossing on Gladstone Rd near Park Rd West as traffic lights
- Zebra crossing on Park Rd near Merton Rd
- Intersection of Dornoch Terrace, Hardgrave Rd and Ganges St
- Zebra crossing on Hawthorne St near Gibbon St
- Orleigh St near the West End ferry terminal
- Zebra crossing on Montague near Brereton St
If the community is opposed to installing traffic signals, often the best way to improve pedestrian safety at a zebra crossing is to lower speed limits and narrow the road width on the approaches to the crossing by building out the footpaths and/or installing separated bike lanes.
New Public Parks at Gabba Station and Boggo Road
Woolloongabba is under-served by public parkland, but inner-city land is extremely expensive. In the short-term, the most cost-effective and practical pathway to creating new public green space catering for rapid population growth in the 4102 postcode is to ensure that large public parks are included on the publicly owned sites which are being redeveloped for train stations as part of the Cross River Rail project.
Rather than selling off the land above the train station for private highrise development, the State Government should retain ownership and control over these sites and deliver large new green spaces and community facilities. You can read a more detailed vision for the redevelopment of the Gabba Cross River Rail station site at this link.
New Public Park for Highgate Hill/South Brisbane
We support covering over the exposed train line immediately to the north of Gloucester St to create a new public park with an area of 1.1 hectares. This would provide much-needed additional recreational green space for residents living between Annerley Road and Gladstone Rd while also providing additional wildlife habitat and reducing noise pollution and air pollution from the train line. More details at this link.
New Park for Kangaroo Point Peninsula
A new park should be created for the northern end of Kangaroo Point in the vicinity of Lambert St to cater for the rapid population growth in this vicinity. A new riverside park could include a dog off-leash area and other recreational facilities, and could connect to the completed riverwalk leading north to Dockside.
Finding land for this park would involve acquiring privately owned land that would otherwise be redeveloped as highrise, while also narrowing the bitumen roadway and reclaiming road reserve as green space.
Hampstead Common and Implementing the West End Green Space Strategy
The West End Green Space Strategy identifies a long list of opportunities to create additional green spaces throughout the Kurilpa Peninsula, predominantly by converting existing road reserve back into shaded boulevards and pocket parks. We support this strategy, including narrowing Hampstead Road and extending the existing community orchard along the footpaths leading down from the top of Highgate Hill.
Although some of these projects sound costly, they are essential if we are to preserve a high quality of life for current and future Gabba Ward residents. We can afford to deliver all of this if we make property developers pay their share, generate additional revenue from a vacancy levy, stop outsourcing core council services to private contractors who add in fat profit margins, and reduce spending on ineffective and sustainable road-widening projects.
Repurpose Space Under the Story Bridge for Community Purposes
There's a lot of under-utilised space beneath the Story Bridge at Kangaroo Point that can be converted for other uses. Some of this space which is currently used for council carparking could double-up as space for weekend farmers' markets and artisan markets. Some space could also be used for community concerts and movie nights, exercise equipment and perhaps even sporting facilities like cricket nets or basketball hoops. Obviously any redesign of this space should be subject to detailed community consultation, and should remain mindful of the need for off-street parking in the area. I believe council should put funding into a detailed community planning process to give residents and local small businesses control and decision-making power over the long-term future of this space.
Close Grey St to Through-Traffic and Create a New Public Park in South Brisbane
As part of the Brisbane Metro project, BCC and the State Government will be working together to redevelop the Cultural Centre Station and the adjoining Melbourne St-Grey St intersection. I'm calling for serious consideration of the possibility of closing off Grey St to through-traffic, so we can create 5000m2 of additional public green space between QPAC and the South Brisbane train station. This would have a range of positive flow-on impacts, including:
- improved traffic flow at the Peel St-Grey St and Grey St-Vulture St intersections
- giving higher-speed commuter cyclists a safer alternative to riding along the South Bank riverfront
- helping Grey St flourish as a low-speed active transport-focussed environment
You can find out a lot more detail about this proposal at this link.
As mentioned above, our vision for the Gabba Ward is based upon the feedback we receive from residents. If you disagree with some of it, let us know! If there are other projects or ideas that you think should be included in this vision, please write to us! This is an ever-evolving list that will change in response to the needs and priorities of local residents.
At the end of the day, it's not just up to me to articulate what I think should be the future of our community. All of us should get a say and all of us should meaningful control over how our city changes and evolves.
This week, I'm calling for the introduction of two new CityGlider routes to fill gaps in Brisbane’s public transport network.
Getting from one suburb to another by bus or train is often a lot harder than getting in and out of the CBD, and we need to improve inter-suburban connectivity so that people can make the shift away from depending on private vehicle transport.
These route proposals are not final or definitive. We’re putting them out there to seek feedback and crowdsource residents’ insights to create the best possible route alignments. Where should the stops go? Exactly where should the services terminate? And are these the best streets for high-frequency buses to be using?
The Green CityGlider route is focussed on cross-suburb travel, connecting people from predominantly residential areas like East Brisbane and Hawthorne to employment and service hubs like the major hospitals in South Brisbane/Woolloongabba.
It would run from the intersection of Vulture St and Montague Rd in West End, and turn around at the Bulimba roundabout where Oxford St meets Hawthorne Rd and Riding Rd.
The Green CityGlider connects to two train stations – South Bank and the future Cross River Rail Gabba station – as well as a couple of key busway hubs, including future Brisbane Metro stops at Mater Hill and South Bank.
It connects to several big schools, including West End State School, Brisbane State High, Somerville House and St Laurence’s College, Lourdes Hill College and Bulimba State School, giving students and staff a reliable all-weather public transport alternative to driving.
Crucially, it provides a direct connection between West End’s high-density areas along Montague Rd, through the Boundary St commercial precinct to South Brisbane and Woolloongabba, without having to go in and out of the Cultural Centre bottleneck.
The north-south Orange CityGlider would fill one of the biggest gaps in inner-city Brisbane’s transport network, connecting Kangaroo Point, Annerley and Woolloongabba to major destinations in Fortitude Valley and Bowen Hills. It also picks up quite a few school catchments along Ipswich Rd and Main St which currently generate a huge amount of peak-hour traffic.
We suggest the Orange CityGlider could run from Cracknell Rd, Annerley to Campbell St, Bowen Hills.
Both of these routes could be augmented by introducing dedicated peak-hour bus lanes through key choke spots, so that catching the bus is always quick and reliable. They would run at high frequency, so that you could turn up to the stop at any time of the day or night and be confident of getting a ride. They intersect at the Gabba Station and Stadium, reinforcing this as a transport node so that people can easily change services and head to different parts of south/east Brisbane without having to go all the way into the Cultural Centre to transfer.
Cross-suburb connections like these also improve network resilience, as these high-frequency routes can still flow reliably, even if a car crash or flooding causes a traffic jam on one of the main roads leading directly in and out of the city.
Alongside our call for free off-peak public transport for everyone, a change like this would greatly improve connectivity and mobility, particularly for lower-income residents who don’t have access to private vehicles.
For those who are wondering about funding, we’ve estimated that these new routes would each cost around $5 million per year to run. But we know that other services such as the Blue CityGlider actually earn the council more than that in ticket revenue because they are so popular. Thinking bigger-picture, it is actually cheaper and more efficient for people to move around the city via public and active transport than by private vehicles.
Each year, council spends hundreds of millions of dollars maintaining and widening roads, as does the State Government. Getting more people out of their cars and onto public transport is great for the environment, and would also save a lot of money in the long-term, because a single bus needs much less road space and causes a lot less wear and tear on the road than dozens and dozens of cars.
If you want to support the push for these new CityGlider routes, you could also email the Minister for Transport and Main Roads via email@example.com and the Lord Mayor at firstname.lastname@example.org
I've been advocating for better active transport connections for the inner-south side since before I became a city councillor. Providing direct connections for pedestrians and cyclists helps reduce traffic congestion and car-dependency, and ends up saving council money in the long-term by reducing the costs of building and maintaining roads.
I'm very supportive of a Kangaroo Point-CBD footbridge, and I'm pleased the council has agreed to my requests to fund the construction of this bridge as a high priority.
I've also been advocating for a West End-Toowong footbridge, but before starting any work, I’d like to see council develop a business case for it (which they’ve said they will do), and I think the entire business case and feasibility study should be released to the public.
I would still need a bit more convincing before supporting a West End-St Lucia bridge, as I’m not yet sure that the benefits justify the costs.
As explained below, I don’t support any of the inner-city bridges carrying conventional buses. I will of course keep an open mind about emerging technologies and changing transport needs, such as the rise of self-driving demand-responsive minibuses, but until I’m presented with strong evidence to the contrary, I don’t think bus bridges are a good idea.
I think it’s extremely important that any green space losses associated with the bridges are offset by the creation of new public parks in West End and Kangaroo Point, above and beyond the parkland already identified as necessary in council’s existing planning documents.
Importantly, if trees need to be removed, the project team should have to take responsibility for finding appropriate locations and planting replacement trees nearby. It’s not enough to just pay an offset levy into the general tree planting budget without actually finding space for where the replacement trees can go.
Naturally, I think it’s very important that the bridges have roofs to protect pedestrians and cyclists from sun and rain, as well as other sustainable design features such as rainwater capture and solar panels if appropriate. More generally, I think we should explore opportunities to design these bridges as useable public spaces as opposed to just transport thoroughfares.
22 November, 2019:
Last week we received a briefing from council officers about the three new green bridges proposed for the Gabba Ward. They were able to give us a lot more detail about the Kangaroo Point-to-CBD footbridge, which is much further advanced than the other two in terms of planning.
From the information we were provided, it seems like the proposed footbridges from West End to Toowoong and West End to St Lucia have barely gotten any further than the drawing board.
Here’s what we know so far. I’ll add more detail to this page as more information becomes available and in response to other questions we receive from residents.
The LNP have estimated a total projected budget of $825 million for all five bridges (keeping in mind that the bike bridge over Breakfast Creek will be very cheap, and the Bellbowrie bus bridge will cost a lot more than the other bridges). The LNP have allocated $550 million in council’s own budget forward estimates, which they say will cover approximately 2/3 of the cost of delivering these bridges. They’re hoping to get funding from State and Federal Governments to cover the other 1/3 of the cost.
I’ve listed some of the main details about the Kangaroo Point bridge first, followed by the other two inner-city bridges. There’s a lot more info about the KP bridge (including a report on the key findings from the business case) at this link. I’ve included my own commentary and advice to residents in italics.
Kangaroo Point to CBD Green Bridge
How much will it cost and how long will it take?
Estimated total budget is $190 million. Once detailed designs, consultation, government approvals and contract tenders are all finalised, the actual construction process would be expected to take 18 to 24 months.
Where will it land (and why)?
BCC is proposing to connect the bridge from near the Alice St-Edward St roundabout, to the end of Scott St at Kangaroo Point
The riverbank near the intersection of Alice St and Edward St is quite low, which makes this bridge more challenging because you have to make it high enough for boats to pass underneath safely (they are aiming for a similar height to other bridges like Goodwill and Captain Chook). One of the main reasons Scott St is preferred over Thornton St is that the slope of the bridge would be more gradual, whereas if you go from Alice to Thornton, it will end up a lot steeper. The key findings report has a bit more detail about alignment options.
Apparently a lot of different options and factors have been considered in terms of CBD-side landing points. The Alice-Edward location probably works out a lot cheaper than negotiating with private landowners further to the north along the CBD riverfront. It also delivers a better connection to the Botanic Gardens.
It seems like council is now leaning pretty heavily towards landing the bridge at Scott St, and will only reconsider this location if there’s really really strong opposition for some reason during the consultation and the public calls for it to land at Thornton St instead. I see no reason not to trust the council planners and independent consultants who’ve concluded that on balance, Scott St makes the better landing point.
What about the Story Bridge Underpass and Connections to the Bridge?
The current Story Bridge pedestrian underpass between Thornton St and Deakin St is not wheelchair accessible and needs a significant (and expensive) upgrade to remove the steps and make it more useable for wheelchairs, prams and bikes. If the bridge lands at Scott St, BCC will be weighing up the pros and cons of upgrading the Thornton St underpass, or creating a new wheelchair accessible underpass from Main St to Deakin St (north of Darragh St).
An underpass connection is being treated as an essential element of the bridge project itself, but feedback from residents about how best to do it will probably have some influence over council decision-making.
I think it is particularly important for residents to give really strong feedback that at the same time as the footbridge is built and the underpass is improved, council also completes the missing sections of Riverwalk on the eastern side of Kangaroo Point.
A key benefit of this footbridge is connecting active transport commuters from the eastern suburbs through Kangaroo Point and directly into the CBD. Completing the riverwalk so that high volumes of bikes don’t have to mix with cars along Thorn St and Lambert St is a crucial part of this.
What’s happening to the Thornton St Ferry Terminal?
Council officers have said that changes to the ferry network or the Thornton St ferry terminal are out of scope for the bridge project. However it’s possible that the Thornton St terminal might have to close down temporarily during part of the construction period.
When designing the bridge and evaluating design options, the project team has been proceeding on the assumption that a ferry terminal will be retained at Thornton St. It is of course possible that down the track, after the bridge is completed, council’s transport planners might look at ferry usage data and conclude that the stop is no longer needed or should be relocated
Will the bridge carry buses too, or just pedestrians and bikes?
It’s a definite no to buses on the Kangaroo Point to CBD green bridge. If you look at a map of where the bridge is proposed and how that might link to existing major road corridors, you’ll probably see why.
Will we lose trees and public green space?
Yes, quite possibly. Council will want to minimise the landing footprints of the bridge, and footbridges don’t have to take up anywhere near as much space on land as bus or car bridges. But there will still be some impacts on public parkland.
I think it’s really important for residents to provide strong feedback to council that you don’t want to lose green space as a result of this project. It’s possible for council to allocate a small proportion of the project budget towards buying more land elsewhere in Kangaroo Point to create a new public park that offsets the loss of trees and green space caused by the bridge.
This bridge project represents an amazing opportunity to get a new public park within the Kangaroo Point peninsula, which will help cater for our rapidly growing population, but it’s important for residents to raise this need really strongly as often as possible
West End to Toowong and St Lucia Footbridges
How much will they cost and how long will they take?
Council says they haven’t yet conducted detailed costings for these two bridges. They are at such an early stage in planning these bridges, that unless there’s a big shift in political priorities and they allocate more resources to delivering these bridges faster, they probably won’t start construction for at least 5 years, and won’t be finished until 2027 at the earliest.
If you extrapolate from the fact that out of a total $825 million estimate, they’re anticipating:
- $190 million for the Kangaroo Point bridge, which is a longer and more technically complex project
- maybe $20-$40 million for the Breakfast Creek bike link
- and upwards of $280 million for the Bellbowrie to Moggill green bridge
that probably means around $280-$300 million for the two West End bridges (so roughly $150 million each). St Lucia to West End will probably be slightly cheaper than other footbridges as it’s a shorter stretch of river to cross.
Where will they land?
Council’s consultation documents show notional landings for the bridges from Archer St, Toowong to near Forbes St, West End, and from Boundary St, West End to Keith St, St Lucia. The officers have said repeatedly that these are just general indicative landing points rather than precise locations. It sounds like BCC hasn’t settled on exact landing points for these bridges yet, so there’s definitely time to advocate for different locations.
A couple of residents have asked whether the Toowong Bridge would be better off landing on the former ABC site rather than going through or over residential properties on Archer St. I’ll be asking more information about this, but from what I’ve learned so far, it sounds like the benefit of landing it slightly to the south of the ABC site is that it can connect more directly to the Toowong train station and shopping centre via the pedestrian link next to 29 Archer St. I will of course continue to advocate for the former ABC site to be brought back into public ownership for use as parkland and community facilities.
There are a lot of issues that have to be worked through in evaluating the exact locations of both proposed footbridges, in terms of avoiding local heritage sites like the Cranbrook Place Aboriginal Sorry Site at Orleigh Park, minimising the loss of established trees, and ensuring optimal active transport connections to existing bikeways and pedestrian corridors.
As with the Kangaroo Point footbridge, it’s crucial that residents provide strong feedback to council that you don’t want to lose green space as a result of these projects. We should be insisting that council deliver new public parks in West End to offset any green space that’s lost as a result of these bridge landings. I’m asking all residents to email GreenBridges@brisbane.qld.gov.au and demand that if the bridges do go ahead, you want a new public park in West End to compensate for the lost riverside green space.
Will the bridges carry buses?
The LNP have not yet firmly and explicitly ruled out the possibility of the bridges carrying buses, but I think this is extremely unlikely, and at this stage I don’t support either bridge carrying buses (although I’m keeping an open mind).
This next map helps show why I don’t think there’s a strong case for a bus bridge from Boundary St to UQ.
Footbridges will likely be around 6 metres wide, whereas a bus bridge that also carries bikes and pedestrians would have to be at least 12 metres wide. Designing the Toowong and St Lucia bridges to carry buses (as well as the necessary road connections) would probably add $50 million to $100 million to the cost of each bridge, so to justify that much additional cost, as well as the ongoing costs of running additional bus services, council needs to be really sure that bus services would be well-utilised.
If a bridge were built that also carries buses, most residents who live in the blue shaded area would probably still find it more convenient (and cheaper) to walk over the bridge to get to UQ, even if there are frequent buses.
Residents who live within the red circle will probably find that existing CityCat services are just as convenient to get to uni as walking a longer distance to get to a connecting bus stop.
And residents who live within the purple circles already have access to high-frequency bus services to uni that are reasonably reliable, via the busway and existing Eleanor Schonell Green Bridge, so while buses running down Boundary St might be slightly more direct, the fact that those services would be running through the low-speed cultural and commercial heart of Boundary St probably makes them a less attractive proposition.
So bus services running between West End and St Lucia are really only going to be useful for residents in the central part of West End, or for students and staff heading from UQ into West End. Anyone living further away in other parts of the city is going to find it quicker to catch a bus that runs along the existing dedicated busway, and most people living closer to the bridge will prefer to walk over for free, rather than catching a bus.
Personally I’m very sceptical that there will be enough demand to justify the high cost of running services and building a bus bridge.
Thinking about the broader public transport network as a whole, the case for buses on both the Toowong and St Lucia bridges is pretty weak, because all of West End’s main road corridors are so heavily congested. Montague Rd, Boundary St, Hardgrave Rd and Vulture St are all quite busy roads, which means bus services running along Coronation Drive and the dedicated busways are always likely to be quicker and more reliable than buses coming through West End.
I know there are quite a few residents living up on Highgate Hill who say they would use an east-west bus route running over the river to Toowong and Auchenflower, but compared to other routes and possible uses of public money, I don’t think this is likely to be a high priority. The feedback I’ve been hearing so far from residents living closer to Forbes St and Riverside Drive is that they definitely don’t want a West End-Toowong bridge to carry buses.
Is this consultation genuine?
One of the frustrating things about council consultation processes like this one is that you’re never sure how much weight they are giving to the resident feedback they receive. It sometimes feels like your comments just go into a void and no-one ever reads them.
Apart from the short timeframes, I think there are two fundamental problems with this kind of council consultation:
- Residents can’t easily see or hear what other residents and stakeholders are saying. Already, I’ve had a resident tell me that “Everyone they’ve spoken to” is opposed to one of the bridges, while another resident said “All of us down here love this bridge.” It would foster greater understanding within the community if council facilitated open discussions where everyone had an opportunity to easily engage with one another’s feedback if they wished, as opposed to all of us just giving closed feedback. That way, residents who might not personally see value in a particular project proposal might understand how it benefits a different demographic of residents.
- Not enough information has been provided to allow us to form an informed view. People can give more meaningful feedback on a project when they have access to more information about current and future commuter demand, traffic volumes, population trends, secondary impacts etc. In the case of the Toowong and St Lucia bridges, council hasn’t done a huge amount of detailed research into design options, but they would still have plenty of traffic data, as well as info about how many students UQ is aiming to accommodate in the future, how many people are expected to move into Toowong and West End etc.
By failing to provide this basic information in an easily accessible format, council fosters distrust (because residents feel like council is hiding something), polarises the electorate, and diminishes the quality of feedback it’s receiving from residents.
Having said that, I think council is genuinely interested in what residents have to say about how important these projects are, and what elements and features should be prioritised. Institutional stakeholders like the University of Queensland are pushing strongly for a bridge directly to the campus, so if residents are expressing alternative views, that can help balance out the conversation.
Unlike private development projects, where the LNP-dominated council doesn’t really care very much at all what residents think, the council is more receptive to input on public projects. The mayor doesn’t want to spend lots of money on projects that are unpopular and will lose votes. So if an element of a project receives a lot of negative feedback at the early stages (before they lock in designs and go out to tender), it’s definitely possible to get council to make changes.
If council receives really strong support for a particular bridge, but can’t secure funding for the project from the state or federal government, BCC is likely to push ahead with the project and fund the whole thing itself. Whereas if public support for a bridge is not quite as strong, and the council can’t get funding from a higher level of government, they might just delay the project and deprioritise it. So providing positive feedback about the elements you do like is just as important as providing criticisms about what needs to change.
I encourage residents to provide as much feedback as you can during the council’s consultation process. If there are other questions you’d like answered, let me know and I’ll add them to this document.
In a city like Brisbane, whether we’re talking about improving public transport services, or improving paths and intersections to make walking and riding safer and easier, there are basically two approaches you can take.
Approach 1: You can repurpose existing road space to prioritise active transport and public transport.
Approach 2: You can take land that’s being used for other purposes (e.g. trees, houses) in order to create new bike paths, bus lanes etc.
Right now, this is perhaps the biggest difference between the Greens and the two major parties when it comes to the roll-out of new sustainable transport infrastructure.
Every political party says they want to improve public transport, but we have different ideas of how to do it.
Both the Labor-dominated State Government and the Liberal-dominated Brisbane City Council tend to prefer Approach 2, and will occasionally do a little bit of Approach 1. In contrast, the Greens strongly prefer Approach 1.
Examples of Approach 1 would be converting a lane of general traffic into a dedicated bus lane, or removing a row of street parking to create room for separated bike lanes or shady trees that encourage walking.
Whereas Approach 2 might mean cutting down street trees to make room for bus stops, routing commuter bike paths along creek corridors and parks (thus cannibalising green space), or even acquiring a corridor of private property to build a new bus lane or busway.
Although not perfect, components of the Woolloongabba Bikeway Project (such as the northern end of Annerley Rd between Stephens Rd and Stanley St) fit more closely into the Approach 1 category. To create space for bike lanes, I supported the council removing dozens of street parking bays, and narrowing general traffic lanes.
Whereas for Stage 1A of the Kangaroo Point Bikeway Project, the council (against my advice) chose to remove established trees and push the bike path through the park alongside Lower River Terrace, rather than removing street parking.
Approach 1 is generally a lot quicker and cheaper. Approach 2 is often so expensive and difficult that project proposals don’t get past the drawing board stage.
Residents who are wondering why governments are so slow to improve public and active transport need to understand this distinction.
What’s particularly important to recognise is that not only is Approach 1 cheaper and faster, it’s also a much more effective way to actually shift people out of their cars and into other modes of transport.
If you have a three-lane road corridor that’s badly congested, and you spend a lot of money buying up houses and shops along the road so you have enough room for a bus lane, you’ve successfully made it possible to run a high-frequency bus route along the corridor that won’t get held up by general traffic. But you now have a road corridor that’s upwards of 30 metres wide (which carves up the neighbourhood and is a major barrier to pedestrians) and you haven’t necessarily reduced the number of cars on the road. You’ve also spent millions and millions of taxpayer dollars transforming houses and small businesses into bitumen.
But if you just convert one of the three existing lanes into a bus lane (maybe just a peak-hour bus lane that’s an off-peak T3 transit lane) you are reducing car capacity and creating a much stronger incentive for people to shift to public transport.
The ramifications of this distinction are particularly significant for Brisbane public transport planning. Labor and Liberal politicians are continually squabbling and blaming one another for the lack of progress on various ‘essential’ public transport projects, such as the extension of the northern busway from Kedron to Bracken Ridge, the eastern busway out to Capalaba, or new river crossings to reduce bottlenecks into the CBD.
But Gympie Road north of Kedron is already three lanes in each direction. If we had the political will to convert one of those existing traffic lanes into a bus lane, we wouldn’t need to spend millions of dollars building a whole new busway. The same is true for Coronation Drive and quite a few other key corridors, and perhaps one day even for the Riverside Expressway and the Captain Chook Bridge.
This might seem like a difficult message to sell politically, but at the end of the day, a dedicated bus lane can carry thousands more passengers per hour than a general traffic lane, and will save a lot of money in the long-run. Right now, our problem is that Labor and Liberal politicians are still preoccupied with the flawed notion that they can’t take away space from cars, and within local and state government departments, the traffic engineers still carry more influence than the public transport planners.
Delivering new bus, bike and pedestrian infrastructure doesn’t have to be anywhere near as expensive as the major parties and some public servants think. It can be done quickly and cheaply, with minimal disruption from construction work, tree removals or private land acquisition. You just have to be willing to take space away from cars.
Do you live within the bright red zone within this map? If so, a new Resident Parking Permit Scheme has been proposed for your area. Read below for more details...
In response to concerns about insufficient street parking in West End and Highgate Hill, I’ve asked Brisbane City Council to consult with residents about introducing a ‘Resident Parking Permit Scheme’ throughout the southern end of the 4101 peninsula (the northern and eastern parts of West End and Highgate Hill are already covered by permit schemes).
A Resident Parking Permit Scheme usually means that some parts of a street are designated as unlimited parking for everyone, while in other parts of the street you can only park there for two hours (2P) unless your car has a resident permit or a visitor’s permit (in which case you can park there as long as you want).
Last year, BCC sent letters to residents asking if you are ‘In favour’ or ‘Not in favour’ of having a Resident Parking Permit Scheme in your street. The response rate to this survey letter was quite low, so BCC has sent out the same survey again, asking anyone who didn't reply the first time to complete it and send it back by the end of March 2018.
For BCC to go ahead with the parking changes, they need at least 60% of responding households to be ‘In favour’ of the introduction of a resident parking scheme in their street. If there is not enough support on your street, the likely outcome is that other neighbouring streets will have resident permit schemes introduced, but the current parking rules on your street will remain unchanged.
I’m not convinced that Brisbane City Council’s simple ‘Yes or No’ approach to feedback will gather enough information to create a new parking scheme that adequately balances the parking needs of residents, local businesses and visitors to the suburb. So my office will be undertaking a more thorough consultation process with local residents and businesses, including an online survey and public meetings. (If you live within the small existing permit area around Rogers St and Raven St, you can still fill out the survey as this will be a good opportunity to re-evaluate the current parking rules)
Brisbane City Council’s Transport, Planning and Strategy branch, overseen by the Chair of Infrastructure, Councillor Amanda Cooper, will get the final say on the specific parking rules which are implemented, however my views and recommendations as local councillor will be treated as highly influential. Having a lot of survey data to back up my position will increase my capacity to advocate on your behalf, so please encourage your neighbours to fill the survey out too.
REMINDER. If you support changes to parking rules in your street, make sure to:
1. Check the ‘In favour’ box on the Brisbane City Council form, fill in your details and return it via the instructions on the form. Please do not return it to my office.
2. Log on to www.jonathansri.com/4101parkingsurvey and complete the quick survey if you haven't already done so.
If you are generally supportive of a Resident Parking Permit Scheme, but have specific concerns or requests regarding the rules on your street, I encourage you to mark ‘In favour’ on the council form and express your specific concerns via our survey: www.jonathansri.com/4101parkingsurvey
If you live in the southern half of West End and haven't received any consultation letters from council about this issue, please call my office ASAP on 3403 2165 or email email@example.com.
HOW THE PERMITS WORK
There are two types of permits:
Resident permits, which are permanently attached to the front windscreen of a particular vehicle that’s registered to an address within the permit zone (in the future, council’s plan is that windscreen stickers won’t be necessary and resident permit will be connected to your vehicle registration number via the council database)
Visitor permits, which are made of cardboard and can be placed on the dashboard of any visiting vehicle
Currently, council charges an annual fee of $10 per resident permit per year. It’s possible that this fee might increase or decrease in the future. It’s also possible that resident permit fees may be abolished altogether, but this seems unlikely.
A permit allows you to park as long as you want in the 'Resident Permits excepted' areas on your own street, and usually one or two adjacent streets. It's not a general resident permit for the entire area.
The BCC has told me that each household will be eligible for a single visitor permit even if you don’t have any of your own vehicles registered at your address.
HOW MANY PERMITS PER HOUSEHOLD?
The most difficult question in introducing this Resident Parking Permit Scheme is deciding how many permits each household should be allowed. If every household is allowed to park as many cars on the street as they want, the whole point of the scheme will be defeated. The BCC has stated that each household should be limited to two permits - one resident and one visitor. Households that need to park multiple vehicles on the street will still be able to do so, but would have to park in the areas that remain signed as ‘Unlimited’ parking.
DISCOURAGES COMMUTERS FROM TREATING YOUR STREET AS AN ALL-DAY PARK-AND-RIDE
There are many streets in West End and Highgate Hill where people drive in from other parts of the city, park all day and catch public transport into the CBD. This increases local traffic congestion and competition for parking.
Introducing a default 2P or 4P limit unless the vehicle has a permit will discourage this pattern of parking, and should help encourage more commuters to switch to public transport.
MAKES IT EASIER FOR RESIDENTS AND SHORT-TERM VISITORS TO FIND PARKING
Discouraging commuters from parking all day on residential streets will free up more street parking for residents and short-term visitors. The permit system won’t guarantee a parking spot for residents, but it will increase turnover and reduce competition. Residents will have a greater level of certainty that parking will be available on their street. Each resident permit will be connected to a specific address, and will allow residents to park on their own street or on one or two neighbouring streets.
The introduction of this scheme is also a good time to push for more disability parking bays and loading zones near businesses. Under BCC rules, a vehicle with a disability permit can park as long as they want in any unmetered area, so signing a bay as '1/2P' or '4P' means someone with a disability permit can park there all day.
Some concerns and downsides
Currently, Council charges $10 per permit per year. This means you’re paying for a permit to park on your own street, but there’s still no guarantee you’ll be able to find a parking spot. However, the evidence from other suburbs with such schemes is that they definitely make it easier for residents to find parking spots, so while it might seem strange to have to pay when there’s no guarantee of a space, having a paid permit system certainly makes it easier than the current free-for-all, where residents don’t get priority.
In the context of all the other costs associated with vehicle ownership and rego, $10 a year is pretty negligible.
MISUSE OF VISITOR PERMITS
Some households sell their visitor permits to motorists who live in other parts of the city so they can drive into the inner-city and park all day for free. The council objects to this practice, but has a hard time stopping it. This is one of the reasons the council is reluctant to issue multiple visitor permits per household. This isn’t a huge problem, and it’s not really an argument against introducing a permit scheme, but it’s something to keep in mind.
CONFUSING SIGNAGE AND BLANKET RULES?
In some parts of the city (e.g. Woolloongabba), there are designated ‘Traffic Areas’ which apply blanket default parking rules to the whole area. Traffic Areas are very different to the Resident Parking Permit Area proposed for 4101. A common criticism of the Traffic Areas is that there are only a few big signs at the entrance to the area, rather than detailed signs explaining the parking rules on every street. This means new residents, visitors and people from other parts of the city sometimes get caught out because they don’t realise they’re parking in an area that has a strict time limit.
However, for Resident Parking Permit Areas, every street is individually signed to clearly indicate what the rules are on that particular street. It’s also important to remember that when a new resident parking scheme is introduced, the council parking inspectors usually issue warnings rather than fines for the first few months, while people get used to the new system. I will be putting the pressure on council to ensure that when the scheme is introduced, every single street is clearly and accurately signed so that newcomers and visitors know what the parking rules are and won’t be fined unfairly.
PROVING YOU’RE A RESIDENT CAN SOMETIMES BE TRICKY FOR RENTERS
This isn’t as big a problem as it is for other government services, because the council is reasonably flexible when it comes to proving where you live, and primarily looks at your vehicle’s registration address. For tenants who move a lot, or anyone who is worried they’ll have trouble proving that they’re entitled to a resident parking permit, feel free to get in touch with the Gabba Ward office directly and we’ll help you prove your current address.
NON-RESIDENTS ARE UNJUSTLY EXCLUDED
The most persuasive argument against resident parking permit zones is that they can embody some of the worst aspects of parochialism and self-interested NIMBYism. Increasingly, people on lower incomes are finding it harder to afford to live in the inner-city. This means they often have to commute from the outer suburbs for work and to access community services, while inner-city suburbs like West End are becoming more exclusive and dominated by wealthier residents. So is it right for comparatively privileged inner-city residents to have priority access to free street parking in suburbs like West End while poorer residents from the outer burbs have to pay for it?
Inner-city residents have more public transport and active transport alternatives, and therefore are arguably less entitled to demand access to on-street parking than residents who live further out and have fewer alternatives to driving. Streets are publicly owned land, and technically speaking, local residents have no greater claim over a particular street than people who live in other parts of the city.
In practical terms though, not everyone in the inner-city is wealthy. Not everyone in the inner-city has access to off-street parking (particularly in the old tin and timber character neighbourhoods, where some homes were designed without driveways). Many older residents have limited mobility and rely on their adult children for support (for a range of reasons these visiting carers often need to be able to park as close as possible to the front door). There are several valid reasons for offering local residents some priority parking zones on their own street. The challenge is to strike a balance so that there are still enough parking spots that non-residents can use when they commute into our suburbs.
Residents draw to council’s attention ongoing safety concerns for pedestrians crossing Wellington Road, East Brisbane in the vicinity of Mowbray Terrace, Baines St and Toohey St.
Large numbers of pedestrians cross Wellington Road each day to access local shops and restaurants, Raymond Park, nearby public transport services and St Joseph’s Primary School in Kangaroo Point. Detouring via existing traffic lights at Vulture Street or Lytton Rd can add upwards of 10 minutes to a pedestrian journey.
A recent apartment development approval at the corner of Toohey St and Wellington Rd will generate more vehicle and pedestrian traffic at this intersection.
We call on council to install traffic lights on Wellington Rd at or near the Mowbray Terrace intersection, and to lower the speed limit to 40km/h (in keeping with the existing 40km/h school zone to the south of Vulture St).
The recent use of die-ins and other temporary blockades to raise concerns about pedestrian and cycling safety has raised legitimate questions about whether this is a constructive and useful tactic.
There’s no denying that temporary blockades frustrate motorists and potentially polarise the community. But their value must be understood in the context of a broader, multi-faceted campaign for change. Blockades are one important tool in a big diverse toolkit, and they can be valuable and effective alongside other forms of advocacy.
Right now in Brisbane, we have an abundance of community groups and non-profit organisations pushing hard to make our city more walkable and less car-centric. We’ve had dozens of petitions, letter-writing campaigns and submissions, with little to no impact. Advocates have also organised all kinds of community-building activities to legitimise and normalise cycling, and demonstrate that a bike-friendly city is possible and worthwhile. Various groups have hosted a range of workshops and policy forums where we create the space for nuanced, evidence-based conversations (usually, very few people come).
While these various tactics have all played a useful role in shifting mindsets and achieving small wins, the pace of change has been far too slow. The proportion of funding and resources dedicated to pedestrian safety and bike lanes remains tiny compared to the amount of money that is wasted on widening roads. Maintaining a seat at the table through diplomacy and compromise sounds nice, but you might actually be sitting at the kids’ table, arguing over crumbs while the rest of the cake is sliced up elsewhere.
In Amsterdam in the 1970s, residents upended vehicles and permanently blockaded major roads to call for safer streets
When you consider the growing problem of traffic congestion, the health system costs of so many accidents, the billions of dollars which are wasted each year on ineffective road projects, and the desperate urgency to reduce fossil fuel emissions in order to minimise the negative impacts of climate change, it’s clear that we need some radical changes. Not only has tangible change been too slow, but on some indicators we’re actually moving backwards. Active and public transport rates have stagnated in Brisbane, and for some demographics, they’ve decreased significantly.
Over the last ten years, the multi-pronged push for pedestrian and bike safety improvements in Brisbane has been characterised by an absence of civil disobedience. It has also been characterised by a lack of significant and tangible positive outcomes. Brisbane City Council and the Queensland Government have grudgingly funded a few valuable projects, but much of the city remains hostile and unsafe for both pedestrians and bikes.
People are dying on our roads. Thousands more are being hospitalised. If preventable accidents were occurring at this rate in a private workplace, the business would be shut down. But the high rate of casualties on our roads has been accepted and normalised due to the lack of political pressure for change.
I hear a lot of road safety advocates talk about the wonderful infrastructure and pedestrian-friendly road culture in cities like Amsterdam, which are designed to prioritise pedestrians and bikes. Too often, those advocates forget or are unaware of the widespread and controversial civil disobedience actions that Dutch citizens organised throughout the 1970s in order to help make this happen. Civil disobedience wasn’t the only part of the campaign, but it was an essential and crucial element. To challenge the growing car-centric mindset in the Netherlands, residents blockaded roads, held up traffic and pissed off a lot of people. Without this activism, the pressure from car manufacturers, motorist lobby groups, oil companies, road construction companies, mega-mall developers etc would have led to Amsterdam becoming just like every other car-centric capital city. But the Dutch fought back, and it worked.
Controversial tactics like blockades create the space for conversation. They draw a huge amount of attention to an issue, both from the general public, and from key decision-makers. But their true value lies not in the immediate media coverage, but in the subsequent discussions they provoke. Some of these discussions are hostile and antagonistic, but many are constructive and valuable.
Civil disobedience also creates the negotiating space for other ‘moderate’ groups to articulate stronger demands. When politicians are confronted by disruptive, controversial protests, they will publicly dismiss the protestors as vocal fringe extremists, but will then simultaneously seek to appease and build stronger relationships with the very community groups whose petitions they previously ignored.
The fact that residents are so frustrated that they’ve taken to protesting about pedestrian crossings and bike lanes is not a good look for a city council. After the immediate news story is forgotten, the lasting memory in the collective subconscious is that people are unhappy with the council’s approach to road safety and transport planning. The desire to counteract that negative perception helps shift policy priorities and accelerates change.
A few people have suggested to me that rather than blockades, we should instead focus on actions that disrupt meetings in City Hall or Parliament House. While I think protests of that kind do have positive value, they generally get less media coverage and do not make as big an impact on the collective consciousness as protests that actively disrupt roads or commercial precincts. From what I've seen during my time as a city councillor, it's actually pretty easy for politicians to ignore a bunch of protestors who disrupt their meetings. It's much harder for politicians to ignore the broader sense of public discontent that civil disobedience actions on roads or in shopping malls can create.
While other cities around the world are actively embracing walkable neighbourhoods and safe bike infrastructure, Brisbane has fallen behind. The problem is not that our city is uniquely car-dependent, or that the influence of the motorist lobby is particularly strong. It’s that without the pointy-end, antagonistic protests, there’s not enough political pressure for anything more than minor incremental gains. And we can’t afford to wait another twenty or thirty years for the political establishment’s current bias towards cars to die out.
There probably won’t be a direct and immediate political response to the kinds of actions we’re organising. But a year or so from now, when political parties are deciding their policy platform and funding priorities for the next Brisbane City Council election campaign, the memory of these protest actions will subtly but significantly influence those big decisions.
If blockades were the only tactic used in advocating for change, I would agree that the division and hostility they cause might not justify the positive impacts. But as part of a multi-faceted strategy, they are effective and necessary.
The risk-averse advocacy groups who condemn and distance themselves from these kinds of controversial actions would do well to remember that the cities they point to – particularly in Europe and South America – as examples of good urban transport planning have had decades of controversial direct action in order to get to where they are today.
Divisive tactics will inevitably put off some people. But Brisbane cycling and pedestrian safety advocates have spent the last decade asking politely and carefully avoiding any action that might annoy or aggravate motorists, even as more and more of our friends end up in hospital. It hasn’t worked. We need to shake things up. Our lives depend on it.
Council has released further info about what it's referring to as the 'Kangaroo Point Bikeway Project'. I think the title is a bit misleading, because the project actually falls within the suburb of South Brisbane, and focuses on Lower River Terrace, Dock St and Little Dock St, which is the link between the Veloway bikeway (which runs along the Pacific Motorway) and the Goodwill Bridge. I tend to refer to it as the 'Dock St Bike Link'.
You can find the basic details and give feedback via the council website.
I'm pleased to see this project going ahead and have been pushing for it for some time. We were particularly concerned about conflicts between bikes and cars, and also bikes and pedestrians. A lot of people would probably agree that in particular, the current design of the pathways leading up to the Goodwill Bridge is suboptimal.
I'm very supportive of most aspects of the draft concept design. In particular, I'm quite excited about the 'shared street' proposal for Little Dock St, which will clearly signal to cars that they need to share the road and be more conscious of pedestrians and bikes.
However, I think there are two key missed opportunities in this preliminary design that need to be reconsidered.
1. The lack of pedestrian and bicycle priority at the Lower River Terrace crossing coming off the Veloway.
2. The loss of public green space at the intersection of Dock St and Vulture St.
Pedestrians and bikes should take priority over cars
As shown on the right-hand side of the second page of the prelim design (pictured above), the proposed crossing from the Veloway 1 Bikeway over Lower River Terrace still gives priority to cars ahead of bikes. I understand this decision was made because council didn't believe it was possible to design a safe crossing point that gives priority to bikes, but I simply don't buy that. If the concern is that cars turning onto Lower River Terrace wouldn't stop or slow down in time to give way to bikes, it should be possible to narrow the road corridor with chicanes or install additional speed bumps to slow down motor vehicles.
We already have examples in Brisbane where bikes are given priority over cars along key cycling routes. One such example is the crossing at Albion near the intersection of Somerset St and McDonald Rd (see below). Although not 100% perfect in its design, this intersection gives priority to bikes and pedestrians on a 50km/h road in an area where heavy vehicles are common. If a car fails to give way to a pedestrian or bike at this kind of intersection, the driver would be responsible for the accident in the same way as if they had run a red light or hit someone at a zebra crossing.
The Dock St bike link in South Brisbane is one of the most popular commuter cycling routes in the country. Many more bikes pass through this spot than cars, and given that we are trying to encourage more people to ride rather than drive, it makes a lot of sense to give bikes (and pedestrians) priority over cars when crossing Lower River Terrace. As part of this project, council could also look at lowering the speed limit on Lower River Terrace to 20 or 30km/h, with further garden bed build-outs/chicanes. Lower River Terrace is not a key connector road - if we need to slow down motorists in order to make pedestrians and cyclists safer, so be it.
It's important to recognise that based on council's current draft plans, even if motorists technically continue to have right of way at this intersection, many cyclists will not necessarily realise this and will tend to ride as though they do in fact have priority. By designing a crossing with a raised platform that slows cars down and gives cyclists a flat run, but still technically assigning priority to cars, the council may inadvertently be making the crossing more confusing and thus more dangerous.
We should sacrifice road space rather than green space
The intersection of Dock St, Vulture St and Stanley St is a problematic spot for pedestrians and bikes and will be undergoing a major redesign as part of the neighbouring Woolloongabba bikeway project. The northern side of this intersection (Dock St and Vulture) clearly needs an expanded pedestrian island (shown in yellow in the below image) to accommodate the volume of pedestrians and bikes travelling between the Goodwill Bridge and the Mater precinct.
Unfortunately, to create space for this pedestrian island, BCC is proposing to substantially reduce the size of the small park on the corner. Although it doesn't look especially impressive, this little park is used by local workers (particularly from Griffith film school across the road) as a shady spot to eat lunch. The park is also a welcome patch of green at an intersection that otherwise feels very built-up and dominated by concrete and bitumen. This plan would essentially bring the roadway closer to the established trees in the park and reduce the size of this green space.
A better alternative would be for council to remove one of the general traffic lanes heading straight out of Dock St, so that Dock only has 1 left-turn slip lane and 1 lane for vehicles turning right or going straight ahead. Rather than reducing public parkland to make room for pedestrians, council should be reducing the amount of space we allocate to cars. Many of the vehicles travelling straight out of Dock St are commuters rat-running via Lower River Terrace and Ellis St to get to Somerville House or the hospitals. This also increases the time it takes for local residents of Dock St to get through the intersection and out of this precinct. This is not a shortcut that council should be encouraging. Reducing Dock St down to one lane would also reduce the amount of time pedestrians require to cross here, which should also help improve the overall efficiency of the intersection.
In a neighbourhood with such high volumes of pedestrians and cyclists, and which is well-serviced by a range of public transport options, it simply does not make sense to rank the needs of a minority of motorists ahead of the majority of active transport and public transport commuters.
I'm broadly supportive of the Dock St bike link. The shared street approach on Little Dock St is a great step forward, and one of the first of its kind in Brisbane, and the designers should be applauded for thinking outside the box. But the two issues I've outlined here are quite concerning, and need to be reconsidered in the final designs.
I'll be providing these comments to the council. You can also give your feedback by emailing the project team on firstname.lastname@example.org.