To apply political pressure for safe, separated bike lanes, West End residents will defy Brisbane City Council by creating their own temporary pop-up bike lane along part of Hardgrave Rd on Friday morning to coincide with West End State School's 'Bling Your Bike Day'.
Witches hats, traffic markers and a chain of ‘human bollards’ will be used create a barrier-separated bike lane leading down Hardgrave Road towards West End State School.
While pop-up bike lanes have been used in other cities around the world, this will be the first of its kind in Queensland.
Residents are frustrated that the council has failed to invest sufficiently in separated bike lanes throughout West End and South Brisbane, so are taking matters into their own hands.
Co-organiser Mitch Bright of Space for Cycling said “As well as the health and environmental benefits, protected bike lanes have been shown to improve turnover and increase economic activity for local businesses.”
“Streets are safer and less stressful for everyone when there’s clear separation between pedestrians, bikes and cars,” Councillor Sri said. “Getting more people cycling for transport is a great way to reduce traffic congestion, but we need to give them their own space on the road.”
“The slow roll-out of bike lanes in Brisbane is partly because council is reluctant to trial and experiment with temporary solutions, and instead spends millions on gold-plated infrastructure,” Councillor Sri said.
“But rather than spending the big money up front, you can put out temporary barriers for a few months, see what kind of community support there is for the idea, and learn from the trial before making it permanent.”
“A row of witches hats is still a lot safer than nothing at all.”
The pop-up bike lane protest will run from 8am to 9am on Friday, 8 September on Hardgrave Road, West End between Skinner Street and Vulture Street.
Best visuals will be between 8:20 and 8:45am, when we form a human chain to mark out an additional barrier between bikes and cars.
Councillor Jonathan Sri by mobile or on 3403 2165.
Mitch Bright from Space4Cycling on be contacted on 0418 767 709
John Parkinson (local resident who rides to school with his children) on 0426 447 294
Brisbane City Council has released more detailed designs for the Woolloongabba Bikeway Project, which will install separated bike lanes along Stanley Street and Annerley Road.
While bike lanes like this are common in many cities around the world, this is the first big barrier-separated bike lane project of its kind in Brisbane, and a big step forward for a council that has historically been reluctant to fund complex and challenging bike lane projects in inner-city Brisbane. It will be important for the council to receive lots of positive feedback on this project so that it has the confidence to fund other separated bike lanes in different parts of the city.
Too many lives are lost in preventable road accidents. Too many people choose to drive because they don’t feel safe riding or walking. As the population of Brisbane’s inner-south side grows, we need to make our roads safer for all modes of transport, but particularly for pedestrians and cyclists.
Lowering speed limits will reduce the severity and frequency of car crashes, and make it easier and safer for vehicles to pull out of side-streets and driveways. Lower speed limits will encourage more residents to travel via active transport and public transport, thus reducing traffic congestion.
Reducing average vehicle speeds will also reduce noise and air pollution, improving pedestrian comfort and helping to shift suburbs like Woolloongabba and Kangaroo Point into walkable neighbourhoods with a vibrant street culture.
In built-up inner-city suburbs with narrow roads and high volumes of pedestrians, 50 and 60km/h speed limits are not safe or sustainable.
By trialling consistently lower speeds in such a large part of the inner-southside, Brisbane City Council can help reduce motorist confusion that arises when speed limits keep changing from one street to the next.
We call on the Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council to initiate a two-year trial of 40km/hr speed limits in all seven suburbs of the Gabba Ward, on Brisbane’s inner-south side.
We call for a default speed limit of 40km/h unless otherwise signed in the suburbs of West End, Highgate Hill, South Brisbane, Woolloongabba, Dutton Park, Kangaroo Point and East Brisbane, and for speed limits to be lowered on all streets with the exception of key arterial roads.
We urge you to consult with all relevant stakeholders and act decisively in initiating a two-year trial.
Media release: Cyclists Stage Mass Die-in to Protest Reduction in Access over Victoria Bridge and Lack of Bike Lanes Throughout Brisbane
Hundreds of cyclists will stage a temporary die-in on Victoria Bridge tomorrow in response to a Brisbane City Council proposal to reduce cycling access over the Victoria Bridge.
As part of a mass bike ride through the city, residents will temporarily occupy the Victoria Bridge, closing it to general traffic but leaving it open to buses. Residents will hold a 1-minute silence for cyclists killed in car accidents, followed by the mass die-in. A die-in is where cyclists lie down with their bikes and mimic the carnage of a major accident, to symbolise how dangerous riding on roads without separated bike lanes can be.
Residents are concerned that council has failed to invest sufficiently in separated bike lanes throughout Brisbane, and are particularly frustrated that as part of the Brisbane Metro project, BCC is proposing to reduce bike access over the Victoria Bridge rather than increasing it.
“Council proposes to remove the existing on-road bike lanes, but is also removing the pedestrian crossing at the northern end of the shared footpath,” Jonathan Sri, Councillor for the Gabba Ward said. “These changes will force more cyclists onto narrow footpaths, increasing conflict between bikes and pedestrians.”
“Redirecting cyclists via the Kurilpa and Goodwill Bridges will result in more commuter cyclists mixing it with pedestrians along the South Bank riverfront and the footpaths of George Street in the CBD.”
“If we don’t get this bridge redesign right, we’ll end up spending a lot more money to redo it down the track as more Brisbane residents take up cycling,” Councillor Sri said.
“We’ve recommended a number of alternative design solutions to council and we’re keen to work constructively to achieve a better outcome.”
“Considering that council also supports another pedestrian-only bridge being built nearby to connect to the mega-casino, surely we can find more room for bikes on a redesigned Victoria Bridge.”
“Protesting like this is a last resort, but council has consistently ignored detailed submissions and large petitions from residents calling for safer cycling infrastructure in Brissie.”
Residents are also calling for lower speed limits and separated bike lanes on major roads throughout Brisbane.
Space4Cycling spokesperson Belinda Ward said that investing in pedestrian crossings and cycling infrastructure takes cars off the road and reduces traffic congestion.
“Other cities around Australia are striking a better balance between different modes of transport, but Brisbane lags behind and continues to deprioritise walking and cycling,” Ms Ward said.
“We’re not just frustrated about this one bridge. We’re concerned about poor outcomes and lost opportunities across Brisbane.”
Local resident Joanna Horton rides to work across Victoria Bridge via the on-road bike lanes and says it’s the shortest route between West End and her workplace in the Valley.
“Buses are still too expensive, and the alternative cycling routes are a lot longer, so reducing bike access over this bridge means people like me are more likely to drive via the Grey Street bridge.”
Councillor Sri says he hopes the turnout will remind council that there are hundreds of residents who would like to ride into the CBD if only it were safer to do so.
“It’s a mistake for council to focus only on current cyclist numbers. We need to think long-term and recognise that we can take hundreds of cars off the road if we make riding safer and more convenient.”
The protest ride will begin at 10:30am, Saturday, 22 July at the northern end of Russell Street near the South Bank ferris wheel. Cyclists will hold a 1-minute silence on the Victoria Bridge followed by the mass die-in between 10:45 and 11am. They will then ride through the city via Elizabeth, Creek and Adelaide Streets, ending at King George Square for another group photo opportunity.
For interviews, contact:
Jonathan Sri on 3403 2165
Belinda Ward on 0434 906 364
I’ve managed to get a bit more info (but not a huge amount of detail) from the budget information sessions titled ‘Transport for Brisbane’ and ‘Infrastructure for Brisbane’. I’ll structure this with a few general comments that are relevant to the city as a whole, followed by some more specifics about local projects within the Gabba Ward. Remember you can see a full list of infrastructure spending allocations for 2017/18 in the Gabba Ward at this link.
As mentioned in other posts, council is spending way too much of its budget on road corridor upgrades that prioritise private vehicles over pedestrians, cyclists and public transport. Some of the intersection redesigns throughout the suburbs include green-painted bike lanes, but none of these seem to have a physical barrier separating cars from bikes, which is what you need to genuinely improve safety and encourage more people to ride.
The Road Maintenance Black Hole
Upwards of $90 million will be spent this year on road resurfacing alone. This is not financially sustainable long-term. Resurfacing is an ongoing maintenance cost that is only likely to rise as traffic volumes increase. Several councillors are telling me that despite the high spend, they are aware of roads in their ward that need resurfacing but weren’t included on this year’s list. This is concerning because if you delay resurfacing a road, potholes and cracks get deeper and the deterioration can accelerate, increasing maintenance and repair costs down the line. So when I say I’m concerned that the large road resurfacing budget is not financially sustainable, I’m not saying that I necessarily think we need to drastically cut the resurfacing budge immediately. I’m saying that council’s broader strategy of prioritising funding for road corridor upgrades which encourage and facilitate higher volumes of private vehicle transport will mean roads deteriorate faster and road maintenance demands and costs will keep rising.
BCC is a much bigger council than other local councils around Australia, so naturally its resurfacing budget will be a lot larger than other councils. However I was surprised to learn that council doesn’t engage in any formal comparison or benchmarking with other councils about what proportion of their budget is spent on road resurfacing. Every city and every road network is different, so direct comparisons can be difficult, but given that BCC is spending such a large chunk of its budget on recurring road maintenance, it needs to be looking at what other councils are spending, and more importantly, what else they are doing to reduce their road maintenance budgets.
An important first step towards reducing the road maintenance budget would be to lower speeds throughout the city. Many other cities around the world are dropping their default speed limit to 30km/h, and I think there’s a strong argument that Brisbane should at least lower its default speed to 40km/h. As well as the many benefits in terms of improving safety and encouraging active transport, this would reduce wear and tear on roads and potentially save council millions of dollars a year.
Improved River Access
Within the Gabba Ward, one of the welcome announcements is funding to improve public pontoons at West End, South Bank and Mowbray Park in East Brisbane. I’ve been pushing for improvements to these facilities, as have many residents who I’m sure will be pleased with the announcement. However my one concern is that rather than reusing and repurposing some of the old pontoons, council will simply chuck them out, which I don’t consider to be an efficient use of resources.
A few astute residents have also asked questions about the Lord Mayor’s announcement that a new facility for non-motorised water recreation activities will be established on the river at Dutton Park. Despite repeated questions about this, I couldn’t get very detailed answers. I don’t think this is because the LNP is deliberately withholding information, but simply that they don’t actually know exactly what they want to do there yet. In the budget, the council has allocated $3.96 million for the coming financial year and $3.98 million for 2018/19 towards ‘River Based Leisure and Tourism Infrastructure’ but hasn’t specified exactly how much of that will be spent at Dutton Park. This project will be administered under Councillor Amanda Cooper, who is the chair of council’s Infrastructure committee, so residents should feel free to email her further questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. All they’re telling us at this stage is that the Dutton Park facility definitely won’t be for motorised water vehicles, that the focus will be on vessels like kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddleboards, and that they will conduct extensive community consultation.
My concern is that council will hand over the facility and try to establish some kind of for-profit tourism business down at Dutton Park under the Green Bridge. Council’s track record on tendering out these sorts of projects is that they tend to go to larger businesses that are more focussed on profit than on delivering services to the local community. This would amount to privatisation of the public realm, and is not an appropriate use for public parkland.
My preference is for the money in the budget to be used to construct a pontoon and canoe launching facility that residents won’t have to pay to use. We could even look at getting a local community group like a canoe club to have a permanent presence at the facility and rent out kayaks (or even organise classes and group tours) on a non-profit basis. I think this would be a much better way to activate the space and improve access to the river than partnering with a private for-profit operator.
As soon as I learn more details about this project and what’s proposed, I’ll make sure I let residents know.
Frustratingly, no money has been allocated for new bike lanes anywhere in the Gabba Ward, but it seems like slightly more money has been allocated to the Woolloongabba Bikeway Project along Stanley St and Annerley Rd, which is apparently still in the design stage. One of the main reasons that the Woolloongabba Bikeway project is taking so long and costing so much is that council is unwilling to make any changes to the road corridor that reduce or slow the flow of cars, so they’re spending a lot of money on complex design solutions. For 60km/h roads, the State Government’s designs require that the barriers on barrier-separated bike lanes must be quite wide, which reduces the amount of road space available. So the council’s reluctance to lower the speed on Annerley Road is driving up the costs of this project unnecessarily, whereas if council supported my request to drop the speed to 40km/h, we could have narrower barriers and the project would be completed a lot faster.
With design work for the Woolloongabba Bikeway project almost completed, my next highest priority for a new separated bike lane is Vulture Street, creating an east-west connection between Davies Park in West End all the way through to the Lady Cilento Hospital in South Brisbane. I was very disappointed that no money for this was included in the budget, and I will continue advocating for this crucial piece of infrastructure.
Also of note is that council is proposing to reduce bike access along the Victoria Bridge as part of the Brisbane Metro project. The LNP councillors claimed that currently only around 900 cyclists use the bridge per day, compared to thousands of pedestrians, and that it’s sufficient to just maintain one shared path between cyclists and pedestrians on one side of the river. I don’t think this is satisfactory, as cyclist and pedestrian numbers in Brisbane will continue to grow and there will be more conflicts between cyclists and tourists on the bridge in the future. I would argue that many more cyclists would be using the bridge currently if the bike lanes were wider and safer. They wouldn’t give me a straight answer as to whether it’s possible to add platforms to the bridge to create wider cycling lanes, so I suspect they haven’t really looked into this.
I would like to see additional funding directed towards ensuring that safe bike access across the river is improved rather than reduced. (If you care about this issue, please come along to the mass community bike action we’re organising for the morning of Saturday, 22 July - https://www.facebook.com/events/1341044809349438)
Happily, council confirmed funding for the installation of traffic lights at the intersection of Vulture St and Montague Rd, West End. BCC did not allocate any funding for traffic lights at the intersection of Victoria St and Montague Rd (the ALDI crossing), but did at least allocate funding for a pedestrian island. In many ways, this is a big win for the community, who have been agitating for upgrades to these two intersections since well before I became a councillor, but a pedestrian island doesn’t necessarily address concerns for some of our most vulnerable residents, including people with impaired vision who cross at this location. Residents have been campaigning for quite a long time for improvements to the Victoria St intersection and it’s nice to see all that hard work pay off, but it’s a bit ridiculous that such an obviously needed improvement has taken so long for council to get around to.
We’ve also seen a bit of funding allocated for local area traffic management around the Hardgrave Road part of West End. This should include funding to repair some of the build-outs and speed bumps, and for a pedestrian crossing island over Montague Road down near Rogers Street, but we’re still waiting on more detail from council about exactly what will be covered by this budget item.
As mentioned in a previous post, $641 000 was allocated to redesign the Stones Corner roundabout at the intersection of Logan Road and O’Keefe St, and I will lobby for the scope of this project to be extended to include safety concerns about the turn from Logan Road to Cleveland St. This is a big project that will probably take council a couple of years. I expect design work won’t be completed until June or July 2018 and I will have to lobby further to ensure that funding to actually build the intersection is allocated for the 2018/19 financial year.
No funding was allocated for any other crossings or pedestrian safety improvements in the Gabba Ward. I’m particularly disappointed that no money was allocated for safer crossings along Gladstone Road in Highgate Hill and Dutton Park, or for Vulture Street East in East Brisbane. This is in a context where council is spending around $1 billion per year on road projects. A big chunk of council’s money is going into widening roads and increasing the capacity of intersections, while comparatively little is spent on projects that improve pedestrian safety and slow down cars.
As Brisbane grows, we need to shift a significant proportion of our population away from reliance on private vehicles and towards walking, cycling and public transport. But far fewer people are going to catch a bus if they can’t safely cross the road to get to the bus stop. If we want to reduce traffic congestion, we are going to need lower speeds, more pedestrian crossings, and of course, a much better public transport.
Another big ticket item in the budget is the Brisbane Metro Project ($49.7 million for the coming financial year, with roughly another $400 million over the next few years). The total cost of the project over several years will be just shy of $1 billion (again, remember that council is spending close to $1 billion every year on roads) but the council hasn’t yet clearly explained where the rest of the project funding will come from.
I’ll be producing some more detailed analysis of the Brisbane Metro project in the near future. While it might not necessarily be the best possible use of money in terms of public transport infrastructure, it’s certainly a lot better than spending the money on road-widening.
During the budget information session, I asked a couple of questions about the project, including sustainability requirements for the high-capacity buses council expected to acquire. It seems that the main reasons council is leaning towards buses rather than some kind of track-based vehicle are lower cost and greater flexibility. I see the logic of this, but one of the main benefits of light rail is that it doesn’t have to run off fossil fuels. In my view, it would be a huge missed opportunity if council spends $1 billion on a Brisbane Metro where the buses still run off diesel or something like that. Putting aside the serious concerns about carbon emissions, light rail or electric buses would also presumably have a much lower impact in terms of noise and air pollution along the bus corridor.
Beyond the Metro, there wasn’t much of interest in the budget in terms of public transport. Council is spending $33 million to acquire new buses to replace old ones, and $12 million on ferry terminal upgrades (largely to meet disability access standards), but no money has been allocated for a new CityCat terminal or other high-capacity transport infrastructure to service the Montague Road side of West End. (I’ve started a petition about transport infrastructure for West End here: http://www.jonathansri.com/montaguepublictransport)
There’s still no direct east-west public transport route between East Brisbane and West End, which means people travelling from Woolloongabba still have to catch one bus all the way into the cultural centre and another one back up Melbourne Street just to get to West End. There are still no high frequency bus routes through Kangaroo Point or East Brisbane. A couple of hard-working volunteers at my office have produced this transport route map, which only shows bus and train routes that come every fifteen minutes or less. This map shows clear gaps in the inner-south side, including through Highgate Hill (where steep roads make it harder for pedestrians to walk long distances to bus stops) and pretty much the entirety of 4169. This helps explain why so many inner-city residents are still driving and clogging up roads.
I could go on, but the core theme is pretty simple. Consistent under-investment in public transport, walking and cycling, and over-investment in road projects that don’t even include transit lanes and which will do precious little to shift residents out of their cars and into more sustainable modes of transport.
Brisbane City Council just released its annual budget for 2017/18
June is budget time, and while most of the media attention is on State and Federal Government budgets, Brisbane City Council has also just released its $3 billion annual budget, which holds direct and immediate repercussions for local residents.
The BCC budget is drafted by Lord Mayor Graham Quirk and requires a majority vote of all the councillors to get through. Because the LNP have a very large majority on council, whatever the Lord Mayor puts forward will be rubber-stamped without much public debate or scrutiny. The Labor Councillors usually vote to support the individual budget programs but vote against the budget as a whole, effectively so they can have a bet each way and oppose the LNP without opening themselves to criticism for opposing specific positive projects. I would suggest that while they might disagree with the Lord Mayor on specific funding priorities, their broader vision for the future of Brisbane is not so different from that of the LNP.
This means that while I can suggest and lobby for funding for different projects and services, the LNP has the final say. You can find the list of the priority local projects I requested for the Gabba Ward for the 2017/18 financial year here.
Below is a list of all the local projects within the Gabba Ward that the Lord Mayor decided to fund in our area. As you’ll see, there’s a little bit of positive investment in infrastructure for the inner-south side, but it falls far short of what’s necessary in order to cater for the rapid population growth we’re experiencing.
If you are interested in looking into the budget further, or wanting a more detailed explanation of what each heading refers to, you can download the full 2017-18 Brisbane City Council Budget from this link. If you download the file, 'Annual Plan and Budget full document 2017-18', you can look up a specific part the report by searching for the section number listed under each heading below (For example, for Footpath Reconstruction, search for 184.108.40.206).
More specific details of the particular projects listed under these headings haven't been released yet. I will find out more in the coming weeks, through the Budget Information Sessions. I’ll try to post regularly on my Facebook page to keep residents updated about what I’ve learned. I’ll also be sending out another email in the coming weeks with more details and some general thoughts on the BCC’s broader budgeting strategy. If you haven't already done so, you can sign up to my regular emails here.
I'm writing a couple of short articles to unpack and analyse the ramifications of the council budget. You can learn more via the following links...Read more
The widening of Lytton Road in East Brisbane is a Brisbane City Council project – ‘Wynnum Road Corridor Upgrade: Stage 1’, which involves widening a stretch of Lytton Road between Latrobe Street and Norman Creek as well as upgrading intersections and installing a proper off-street bike path. Importantly, council has not allocated funding for Stage 2 or further stages, so practically speaking, Stage 1 is basically the whole project.
The project will involve the demolition or relocation of almost fifty properties along the northern side of Lytton Road (many of which are very old traditional character homes), but it will also require reclaiming part of Mowbray Park to use for additional traffic lanes. This is where the State Government comes in, because Mowbray Park and the East Brisbane War Memorial within it are listed on the Queensland Heritage Register, making the park a ‘State Heritage Place’. (The project also arguably impacts on the State Heritage-listed Hanworth House, which is immediately adjacent to the road and will be detrimentally affected by increased nise and air pollution.Read more
There’s been a bit of talk about bridges lately, after UQ released a draft masterplan proposing two possible options for green bridges between West End and St Lucia. Option 1 is a bridge between Orleigh Park and Guyatt Park, while Option 2 is from the southern end of Boundary Street, directly to the UQ St Lucia Campus. I’ll be getting a detailed briefing about this from UQ’s Chief Operating Officer and the Planning Manager in a few days. What’s clear to me is that any decisions about where we locate new bridges and what modes of transport we allow on them must be evidence-based, must look at the needs of the wider transport network, and must give local residents meaningful control and input at all stages of the process. It’s also important that if there is to be any loss whatsoever of public green space, that this is offset by acquiring additional land for new green space of similar quality and useability in the immediate vicinity.
Deputy Premier Jackie Trad has recently sent out a lot of communication to West End residents stating that she is strongly opposed to a bridge connecting to Orleigh Park. This has given some residents the false impression that a bridge disrupting the open vistas in the middle of Orleigh Park is a likely or imminent risk. In fact, at the city council level, the Greens, Labor and the LNP have all already signalled opposition to whacking a bridge in the middle of the two council-owned parks. So this flurry of communication about needing to protect Orleigh Park seems to be unnecessarily distracting from attempts to hold a more meaningful discussion about specific locations.
It’s pretty obvious to a lot of people (myself included) that a bicycle and pedestrian bridge connecting St Lucia to West End wouldn’t be such a bad idea. The Option 2 proposal mentioned in UQ’s Masterplan – from Boundary Street directly to the UQ Campus – is perhaps preferable. The main downside is that the southern end of Boundary Street is quite hilly, which might discourage some cyclists and pedestrians.
It’s also possible to connect a bridge from the eastern edge of Orleigh Park (near the Hoogley Street roundabout and the West End Ferry Terminal) to the northern end of Laurence Street in St Lucia. This would provide decent connectivity to the uni, while avoiding direct disruption to these two valuable inner-city green spaces.
Instead of, or in addition to, a bridge, BCC and the State Government could also look at co-funding a riverwalk to connect Orleigh Park to Dutton Park and the existing UQ Green Bridge, giving cyclists and pedestrians a flat route along the river that avoids the need to climb Highgate Hill.
At the same time though, I believe we need to continue pushing for a pedestrian and cyclist bridge connecting the emerging high-density precinct around Montague Road to central Toowong. A bridge landing somewhere between Ferry Road and Forbes Street in West End and over to the former ABC site near Archer Street in Toowong would provide a direct cycling route between the inner-south side and inner-western suburbs like Taringa and Indooroopilly. It would give Montague Road apartment residents a direct walk to the Toowong train station and shops, and would give Toowong residents better access through to work and recreation opportunities in West End and South Bank. This is probably a higher priority and of broader public benefit than a bridge directly to the UQ Campus.
Of course right now, the bridge that everyone should be talking about more is the proposed footbridge between South Bank and Queens Wharf in the city. With support from the Queensland Government, the Queens Wharf Mega-Casino developers have offered to build a footbridge from the South Bank riverwalk (near the ferris wheel) that would connect directly up to the casino gaming floor. This bridge serves very little useful purpose from a transport network perspective. There are many other parts of the Brisbane CBD that would benefit from additional footbridges (such as from Kangaroo Point to Eagle Street), and we also need a bus bridge somewhere around Hawthorne or Bulimba, but placing a footbridge so close to the existing Victoria Bridge seems like a waste of money and a missed opportunity.
Bizarrely, the casino developers and the State Government say this bridge won’t be open to cyclists, because rather than connecting from one riverbank to the other, it will slope up from South Bank to a higher level of the casino building.
The riverfront stretch of South Bank near the ferris wheel provides excellent unobstructed views of the CBD and the river. This is one of the prime viewing locations for big events like Riverfire and a favourite spot for tourists and locals more generally. It would be a shame to obstruct this open stretch of riverfront by whacking an unnecessary bridge in the middle of it.
I would be interested to hear the Deputy Premier’s perspective on why she supports this bridge to the casino, which is very close to other bridges, won’t be open to cyclists, and may well detract from the amenity of the South Bank riverfront. I would also like to hear more details from the Deputy Premier in her capacity both as Minister for Transport and as Minister for Infrastructure and Planning as to what bridge options she would support to improve connectivity between West End and Toowong/St Lucia.
Last year, a large number of residents submitted a petition to Brisbane City Council calling for a drop in the speed limit on Montague Road, West End. I requested a speed limit review because I felt the road is too fast and too dangerous.
Council outsourced the review process to a consultancy, but bizarrely, the consultancy only looked at crash data from between 2007 to 2011, rather than focussing on more recent crash histories. As shown in the accompanying image, they also made some terrible choices in locating their traffic counters. They placed traffic recorders up near the Jane St traffic lights and down towards Orleigh Park, but didn’t collect any data on speeds or traffic volumes in the fastest and most dangerous section of Montague Road.
Below is my (long) speech to council about why I think the speed limit should be lowered (preferably to 40km/h south of Vulture Street). It’s pretty dry, but a few traffic planning geeks might enjoy it. And here’s a link to the report produced by the consultancy that council outsourced to…
SPEECH IN COUNCIL CHAMBERS ON 28/03/2017:
I’d like to unpack a couple of major flaws in the speed limit review process, which is the basis of council’s opposition to lowering the speed limit at this time. I’ll then go on to highlight some of the key arguments weighing in favour of dropping the speed limit on Montague Road.
So council conducted this speed limit review in response to safety concerns raised by a number of local residents and business owners. My general concern is that the speed limit review process which the Queensland Government encourages councils to follow doesn’t necessarily yield sensible outcomes in inner-city suburbs, particularly in areas that have recently undergone rapid development and transformation. This is in large part because the process does not include pedestrian or cyclist counts and deprioritises the needs and concerns of pedestrians and public transport users.
The speed limit review process is inherently resistant to changes that would improve pedestrian safety and amenity. It is overly bureaucratised and heavily centralised and does not sufficiently account for local context or the need to prioritise pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users ahead of cars. If we’d followed this process in the CBD, it would have recommended against dropping speed limits to 40 km/h. But I think we can all agree that 40km/h is working pretty well in the CBD and that if the State Government’s review process contradicts that, then the review process is flawed.
It’s also kind of morbid that the review process relies so heavily on crash data as the primary indicator regarding safety. This creates a situation where no matter how dangerous a road is and no matter how many residents and local businesses complain that an area has become more dangerous, council won’t act until after multiple serious crashes have occurred.
So I’m not convinced that this speed limit review process should be relied upon by council as our only tool of analysis and decision-making regarding speeds, particularly in areas with lots of pedestrians.
However, for the purposes of discussion today, I wanted to raise specific concerns about this particular speed limit review. I hope these concerns will be conveyed to the relevant council officers and that Councillor Cooper will be good enough to take these concerns in good faith as they are intended. The outcome I’m seeking is that we hold off on responding to this petition until further research has been conducted. An alternative outcome I’d like to see is that this administration will remain open to conducting another speed limit review in the most dangerous section of Montague Road sometime in the next few months, once newer crash data becomes available.
The speed limit review report relies heavily on data from two traffic recorders, which recorded both traffic volumes and speed data over a seven day period.
But unfortunately, this data is fundamentally flawed due to the poorly thought-out locations of the traffic counters.
One traffic recorder was positioned right down at the southern end of the road near Cordeaux St, which is a lower density residential neighbourhood that receives substantially less traffic than the rest of Montague Road. This is just before the approach to Orleigh Park, where the road narrows and vehicles slow down to turn onto Orleigh Street.
The other traffic recorder was positioned at the very northern end of the review area, immediately before the Jane Street traffic lights. The segment of Montague Rd between Jane St and Vulture St also receives far less traffic, because the majority of vehicles travelling into and out of the peninsula currently turn onto Vulture Street, avoiding the Jane St intersection altogether.
So the independent consultancy has put these recorders in places where there are lower traffic volumes and lower speeds than the most dangerous stretch in the middle of Montague Road. It’s a little bit like measuring how fast a bunch of sprinters are running by positioning the speed gun twenty centimetres in front of the starting line.
So even though my concerns and the concerns of residents were primarily related to the middle stretch of Montague Road near Victoria Street, the consultancy has measured the vehicle speeds and traffic volumes at the far ends of the road, away from the major trouble spots.
My second related concern is that this report doesn’t include pedestrian or cyclist counts, even though pedestrian safety issues were the primary trigger for this speed limit review. The report goes into a lot of detail about the number of vehicles per hour and what speeds they were travelling at, but doesn’t make any serious attempt to explore how frequently pedestrians cross the road or where pedestrians cross most often, which should logically be the focus for this kind of review. The report’s failure to focus at all on cyclist safety and comfort is deeply concerning, and again defeats a key purpose of the speed limit review.
My third and perhaps most significant objection is that the independent consultants appear to have relied on very out-of-date crash data in assessing safety concerns. This is particularly problematic because it seems to have been the crash data, as part of the Environment Assessment component of this review, that tipped the balance in favour of retaining the current speed rather than dropping it.
The review relied upon crash data from 2007 to 2011, even though this review was conducted at the end of 2016. This is in spite of the fact that I have repeatedly emphasised to council how significantly traffic conditions and crash frequencies have changed in the last few years. Back in 2007, Montague Road was a lot safer. There were far fewer cars and far fewer pedestrians. People didn’t have to play chicken with semi-trailers every time they wanted to get to the bus stop or the local shops.
In the period from 2007 to 2011, there were fewer than 15 significant accidents along Montague Road. Nowadays, there are dozens of accidents along Montague Road every year. I’m personally aware of five accidents that have occurred along the Victoria Street stretch since the beginning of January this year, and I’m sure there are more that I haven’t heard about.
I’m extremely sceptical of claims that no relevant crash data from 2011 onwards was available, or that more recent data was not suitable to be relied upon. I know the State Government can be pretty slow to release this sort of information, but a lag of five years is pretty hard to believe. If it really was the case that more recent data was unavailable, it would have been better to exclude crash data from the review altogether, rather than relying on crash statistics that were between 5 and 10 years old.
The Montague Rd precinct has changed dramatically in recent years. This area is undergoing a process of rapid densification, with dozens of warehouses and industrial businesses replaced by high-density residential along with commercial uses that generate higher volumes of traffic – both pedestrian and vehicles – than previous land uses.
Montague Road includes a range of uses that generate high pedestrian volumes including the blue cityglider bus route, a major supermarket, and several smaller supermarkets, commercial offices, major dance schools, high-density residential, a large new childcare centre that’s currently under construction, and the very popular Davies Park Markets. It’s also a key connector to the local primary school and the riverside parklands.
The opportunity we have along Montague Road is to create a walkable neighbourhood more reminiscent of Grey Street at South Bank, with a lively and vibrant streetscape and high volumes of pedestrian and cyclist traffic.
As the West End population grows, we need to make it easier, safer and more comfortable for people to use active transport and public transport rather than relying on private vehicle transport. This will improve local amenity and commerce, and will also allow for larger numbers of commuters to travel in and out of the suburb along Montague Road.
The LNP’s South Brisbane Riverside Neighbourhood Plan reinforces this vision. It says that along Montague Road, retail development, street upgrades, landscaping and building design will establish an attractive and comfortable environment for pedestrians. So it sounds like we all share similar visions for how this road will evolve, and should be working together to achieve that vision.
A crucial and necessary step in this transformation of Montague Road is lowering the speed limit. This will reduce noise and air pollution, which will make the footpaths a more comfortable pedestrian environment, and will improve amenity for the many residents now living in apartments along the road. It will also improve the actual safety and perceived safety for cyclists who ride along this corridor.
Dropping the speed limit will make it easier and safer for vehicles to turn onto Montague Road from side-streets and driveways, and will also reduce hassles and safety concerns for Cityglider bus drivers who are pulling out of bus stops.
During peak periods, traffic along Montague Road already moves very slowly, and dropping the speed limit is unlikely to have any significant impact on travel times for private vehicles during rush hour. However it will significantly improve safety for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists throughout the day. In the last two or three years, there’s been a significant increase in crashes and near misses along this corridor. The Victoria Street intersection near the ALDI supermarket is the most notorious hotspot for collisions and near misses.
Pedestrians of all demographics cross Montague Road on a daily basis, including dozens of school children, people with impaired mobility, and people with impaired vision. Thousands of commuters cross Montague Road each day to access CityGlider bus stops, particularly at the Victoria St intersection. If council pushes ahead with the installation of more pedestrian refuge islands along Montague Road, it would make sense to drop speed limits at the same time.
Posted by· December 04, 2019 7:58 PM
Posted by· November 20, 2019 5:25 PM
Posted by· November 17, 2019 1:55 PM