Voice your support for better cycling outcomes at this weekend’s local government elections

A letter to Bicycle Queensland members from CEO Alton Twine

Dear Bicycle Queensland Member

This weekend’s local government elections are an opportunity to voice your support for better cycling facilities and programs in your community.

As many of you know, over the last month new CEO Alton Twine and Advocacy Director Andrew Demack have conducted an extensive local government pre-election campaign, travelled thousands of kilometres, connecting with our members and communities across Queensland, visiting and speaking with Councils and candidates.

Whilst a more detailed account of their findings will be presented to members in the not-too-distant future (we have collected a lot of information!), we can report a summary of concerns that resonate across the State that form the basis of our call for 7 key things that can be done to improve cycling in our communities:

1. Close the gaps in the network

Whilst cycling and using scooters are increasingly popular for transport and recreation, people who use bikes and scooters require safe and effective infrastructure to be provided in a consistent way where they live. A major issue for riders is the “missing links” that dominate cycle networks across the State, making a journey from A to B a difficult proposition for many. Some of these missing links are mere metres in length, some are caused by a lack of transition between roads to bikeways and some are caused by a lack of directional signage that would allow a route to be clearly identified.

Bicycle Queensland is asking Councils to close these gaps, so getting somewhere safely by bike or scooter is easy.

2. Maintain what is there already

Maintenance of existing facilities needs to be improved. Many riders have complained about obstructions along paths, such as overgrowing vegetation, potholes and inappropriate barriers. Debris such as broken glass and rocks are common along on-road bike lanes and verges. These problems can be addressed by more frequent inspections of paths and more street sweeping along on-road routes.

3. Improve signage for safety and wayfinding

There is an overall lack of signage across cycling networks — both wayfinding and directional signage or safety signage. In many places, on-road markings are faded or sometimes non-existent. Signage is a cheap and effective way of assisting all road and path users and is greatly appreciated by all. Applying more pathway signage and on-road “signs and lines” will help all users.

4. Look for cycle tourism opportunities

Cycling tourism is on the rise. The “Australian and Cycling E-Scooter Economy in 2022” report notes that cycling-related tourism resulted in $1.88 billion in direct output across Australian States and Territories. In Queensland, the rise of cycling tourism around mountain biking opportunities continues to occur across the State, with more and more projects underway. In many areas, the re-purposing of closed railway lines as “rail trails” is bringing new life into communities, as ably demonstrated by the success of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail.

Councils can consider what opportunities exist to attract this growing leisure and recreation market and look to invest in facilities that will attract tourists to ride bikes in their communities.

5. Engage with users

People who ride bikes and use scooters in their local communities are keen to engage with local governments to assist the efforts of Councils to improve all aspects of cycling. Engaging with users of the network around future plans and particular projects will help ensure the best outcomes for everyone. Councils can engage with local Bicycle User Groups (BUGs) and/or reach out to Bicycle Queensland directly to assist.

6. Build more shared paths and bikeways

There is still a need to provide safe connections for bikes, e-scooters, and pedestrians in many areas. We have heard this from our members and the community where providing these facilities will make it attractive for people to ride.

The best facilities are off-road shared paths. Riding along on-road bike lanes in busy areas, next to high speed traffic lanes and parking, is for experienced riders only. To attract more people to ride, including children, recreational riders and the increasing number of elderly who are discovering the joys of mobility on an electric bike, we call for more off-road pathways to be constructed.

7. Aim for 10% of trips by active transport by 2032 and commit 10% of the transport budget to making it happen

Cycling and active transport (including the fast-growing area of e-scooters) are the healthiest and most sustainable form of transport.  Taking short trips by active transport is the best thing councils can do to address ill health in their communities and to meet the sustainability targets now rolling out across Queensland ahead of the 2032 Games.

At present, only a few councils have active transport targets, committing a clear percentage of the overall transport budget to getting people moving sustainably.

We call on councils across the state to commit to 10% active transport journeys by 2032, to develop plans and to contribute a meaningful 10% of council transport budgets to making it happen.

Bicycle Queensland commends those Councils who do great work in their local communities to support cycling.

By addressing these 7 areas of concern that have been raised by members and communities across the State, more people will ride safely in our communities, making them better places for all to enjoy.

Many of these 7 key areas are “low-hanging fruit” that are relatively cheap to implement.  These investments are modest in comparison to road budgets and have a genuine advantage in not only reducing traffic congestion (every extra cyclist on the network is one less car trip) but also providing appropriate and safe facilities for recreation and sport.

As we head into local government elections this weekend, please let your candidates know that cycling is important to you and to the community you live in.

Our advocacy with Councils does not end with the elections on the weekend! We have opened channels with many Councils across the State and we are committed to formally noting and prosecuting the many areas of concern that you as members have raised in our discussions.

We intend to hold Councils and successful candidates to account on the basis of these issues and any others that may emerge, in an ongoing campaign to improve facilities, training, education and co-operation between Councils and our members.

As many of you know all too well, success is a matter of persistence. BQ has been around for 44 years and by working with state and local governments has improved the lot of those who ride bikes and scooters across the State. We are in it for the long haul.

A big thank you to all those who could make the time to talk with us over the last few weeks. It was great to talk with you, listen and understand your frustrations and experiences, and be guided by your local wisdom on how we can best address our efforts on your behalf. For all of you, including those who weren’t able to make our meetings, please continue to let us know the concerns that you have and ideas on how to improve riding in your communities.

We are looking forward to continuing our conversations with you, and with our newly-elected Councils as they head into their first local government budget meetings. 😊

Yours in cycling

Alton Twine
CEO Bicycle Queensland