22 August 2023
With more and more people using bikes or e-bikes, and with many of our local roads becoming a hot mess, the case for separated bike lanes has never been stronger.
So what’s planned for South Brisbane?
Both the state government and council are responsible for active transport. Despite the huge amounts of development happening in West End, South Brisbane, Woolloongabba, East Brisbane and Kangaroo Point, these neighbourhoods are lagging in terms of good active and public transport. Part of the challenge is that the infrastructure charges that developers pay to council when they build new developments - money that is meant to go to new public infrastructure like bikeways, parks and community facilities - are capped by the state government, meaning councils struggle to get the funds they need to invest back into the community. There is also no requirement on the BCC to invest money gathered from developers in a particular neighbourhood, back into that neighbourhood. So funds gathered in West End, could end up being invested in Salisbury or Algester. There is also a systemic devaluing of pedestrians and cyclists by both the state government and the council - cars are still considered the priority in road planning. Which locks us even further into car-dependent local planning.
Vulture St Bikelanes
Way back in 2020, the state government committed to more bike lanes in South Brisbane, and allocated $10 million, as part of an election commitment. From what we’ve been able to gather from the state government since then, the plan is for separated bike lanes down Vulture St, that connect from the Mater precinct, down to Montague Rd. As part of this project, late last year, the BCC did a ‘South Brisbane Active Travel Study’, which got over 400 responses from the community. Apart from a very brief summary on the BCC website, the results of this consultation have not yet been made public, but we do know that 76% of respondents were positive about separated pathways for cycling and walking.
This year’s QTRIP - the budget document that details transport projects that the state government is funding, or co-funding with councils - has money allocated for what *seems to be* design work for this project in this financial year, then two years of construction. And yet, despite there being state government money allocated for this project, we’ve yet to see the results of the consultation, or any design work. I’ve asked the Transport Minister for the results of the consultation, and a briefing, but I'm still waiting.
BCC plans for Melboure St, Grey St & Victoria Bridge
The Brisbane City Council seem to have allocated next to no funding for bike lanes in and around South Brisbane. There are plans for short stretches of bike lanes along Grey St, Melbourne St and the Victoria Bridge, as part of upgrades for the Metro, but these are little stretches of bike lanes that aren’t properly connected to further networks (I’ve popped the plans in the comments below).
QTRIP does include $600,000 for the design of a separated cycle lane along Grey St, between Vulture St and Russell St.
The council can apply to the state government for co-funding for bike lanes, but it seems that even for projects that have huge community support - like the bike lanes that Active Transport for Annerley have been campaigning for - they have not applied to the state government for shared funding. Given that both levels of government are always trying to get the other to pay for things, not taking up the opportunity for co-funding seems incredibly stupid (to me).
Kangaroo Point Riverwalk
One bit of good news about the Kangaroo Point Riverwalk! The state government committed in 2020 to completing the Kangaroo Point Riverwalk. But they allocated just $20 million to this project, and then said that the project would rely on the BCC to also come to the table with funding. To date, the BCC have said they wouldn’t help fund this, because it’s a state election commitment, and so the state government should fund it (why pay when another level of government has publicly promised to do this?). The BCC did some consultation on this last year, but we've yet to see the full results (see a summary here).
BUT the new LGIP (Local government infrastructure plan) includes the Riverwalk, with an indicative budget of $40 million. The LGIP should be taken with a grain of salt - lots of things in the last LGIP have never come to fruition, and there isn't budget actually allocated for lots of the LGIP projects - but it’s a promising step! Sign up here for updates on this project.
Annerley Rd intersection
Another bit of good news is that the BCC LGIP has also flagged the Annerley Rd-Cornwall St intersection for upgrades, something that we’ve been pushing for alongside Active Travel for Annerley and the local community.Again, there is no budget actually allocated to this, but this gives us an opening to ramp up pressure on the council to deliver this.
Where to next?
Thank you to everyone who has been fighting alongside us for better public transport, more bike lanes and active transport, and fighting for good planning in Brisbane and beyond. This kind of advocacy can be incredibly frustrating, but I think we’re making ground.
Myself and Trina will be doing everything we can to push both the state government and the Brisbane City Council to deliver crucial active transport infrastructure for the neighbourhood.