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Is Brisbane's CBD cycle-safe?

Brisbane Times. December 10, 2007
Bike couriers - the people who spend more time than most pedalling through Brisbane's streets - have backed a plan for free bikes in the CBD, but have urged more money be spent on bikeways to keep riders away from cars on the city's clogged streets.
On the weekend, Lord Mayor Campbell Newman put forward the idea of introducing automated bike stations in the CBD, with commuters and tourists able to quickly and easily hire a bike using a swipe card.
His proposal would see up to 1000 bikes available on stations.
Today, Brisbane bike couriers backed the plan, but urged caution at an influx of riders on streets and called for more bike lanes to ensure their safety.
One of the major advantages to the scheme taking off in Brisbane is that fact that the city is one of the few Australian capitals in which it is legal to ride bikes on footpaths.
And three Brisbane bike couriers today said the Brisbane CBD was flat enough to see most sites fairly easily, even if Spring Hill was more difficult to access.
James Foley spends his day riding through Brisbane's CBD for his company "In a Minute" bike couriers.
He wants to see cycling encouraged, but does point out a few problems.
"I think Brisbane is pretty safe, but like any use of the roads you have to be careful," he said.
"There are a lot of motorists and a lot of cyclists out there who aren't really paying as much attention as they should on the road."
He said most of Brisbane's central city was flat enough for cyclists to take advantage of the Lord Mayor's proposal.
"Brisbane's CBD is fantastic to ride around because it is all flat - especially around Eagle Street and through there - so it is a good place to ride geographically."
He said the main problem was poor bike lanes in the inner city.
"There are a few bike lanes in the city, but some of them are poorly thought out," he said.
"There are some where they just stop suddenly and don't take up on the other side, like Grey Street and Melbourne street."
Mr Foley also thought people who had not ridden recently would find it difficult to quickly adjust to city streets.
"It gets a bit dangerous because you don't have some of the safety features of the modern cars and you need to have your wits about you."
Geoff Trueman, works for Power Couriers, said there needed to be more bike lanes to make the proposal work in inner-city Brisbane.
"You need to have more bike lanes," he said simply.
"Just along the side of the street. You need to have a little bit of room on the side of the street for bike lanes.
"People can really ride along them without getting pushed off the road by a car."
Mr Trueman said a major problem was that drivers simply were not able to see people on bikes.
"So to make it safe, you would really have to put those in, because most people will not ride in a car lane," he said.
Mr Trueman said overall, Brisbane was safe enough for extra cyclists.
"No, overall it is safe enough, I can't see why it is not as safe as other cities.
"I would assume that Melbourne and Sydney would be worse than here, because there are far more people.
"And you are allowed to ride on footpaths here, where as in most other cities (in Australia) you can't ride on the footpaths."
Brett McAntee rides through Brisbane for Toll Fast couriers.
"I would say it's pretty safe, as long as people obey the road rules and don't run red lights," he said.
He said his main problem as a courier cyclist came from pedestrians.
"I personally find more problems with pedestrians - you know, jaywalking and the like."
Mr McAntee said people did not pay much attention to bikeways in the Brisbane CBD.
"People park across them and drive in them," he said.
"But I think the biggest problem is that Brisbane is pretty hilly - but the CBD and city streets, I wouldn't think there were too may problems getting around."
He said there needed to be more bikeways that did not use the roads and saw difficulties with bike lanes pressed up against parking cars.
"I think there needs to be more bike lanes separate from this. Aside from that I think it is pretty good."
Cr Newman referred to a system in the French city of Lyon, where 2000 bikes-for-hire were introduced to the city.
"I see a future where you'll just grab a bike to get across town to your meeting in South Brisbane and where tourists use bikes to travel along the river and see what this beautiful city has to offer," Cr Newman said.
Footage of the Paris scheme can be found on YouTube.
Interest from service providers has already been received and Cr Newman will soon call for expressions of interest.
Meanwhile, figures also released on the weekend show an explosion in the number of people using Brisbane's bikeways during the last year.
The latest information shows a surge of 13.2% in the number of people using bikeways between October 2006 and October 2007.
The data shows that each day, an extra 3317 people are getting out and about on Brisbane's bikeways on skateboards, bikes, scooters, or for a run or a walk.
Fresh data also reveals that the number of pedestrians rose by 12.7% or 2336 walkers daily.
New figures also show that the number of people cycling rose by 856 trips each day.
Labor's Lord mayoral candidate Greg Rowell used the figures to say he would explore opportunities to build more bikeways around Brisbane, faster than the current bikeways work program.




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