Last weekend was a significant one for cyclists in eastern parts of the city, both north and south of the river, as it marked the opening of the pedestrian and bicycle pathway on the new Sir Leo Hielscher (Gateway) Bridge. The path connects from Lytton Rd, Murarrie on the south side to Cullen Avenue East and Kingsford Smith Drive, Eagle Farm on the north side, and cost $36 million (approximately 2%) of the $1.88 billion Gateway Upgrade Project. Its opening marks the end of more than 24 years of waiting by cyclists, who have not been able to cross the river at this point since the Sir James Holt vehicular ferry ceased operating in January 1986 when the first Gateway Bridge opened.
The CBD BUG convenors and a number of other members were invited to the formal opening ceremony and had the opportunity to talk with Premier Anna Bligh, Minister for Transport Rachel Nolan, Minister for Main Roads Craig Wallace and local member Di Farmer about issues facing cyclists in the local area and the broader region. Of particular significance is the need for the government to commit to funding the planned connections from the new bridge.
Another issue that has been receiving much attention are the advisory (yellow signed) 10 km/h speed signs on the bridge. Although not actually enforceable (nor even a limit) like the red and white signed 10 km/h zones that have been getting attention on shared paths elsewhere, the advisory speed on the new path is still a significant concern to cyclists. Not only has the Premier indicated that police will attempt to enforce the advisory speed, but its presence could cause pedestrians to expect cyclists to be travelling at that speed, which could in turn lead to reduced care and attention by pedestrians on the path, and/or pedestrian hostility to cyclists exceeding the advisory speed. If a pedestrian were to suddenly walk onto the bike part of the path and be struck by a cyclist travelling above 10 km/h, the signage might give the pedestrian a legal case that the cyclist was cycling unsafely. CBD BUG also believes that the presence of such unrealistic speed signage promotes a general lack of respect for speed limits, which can become a risk for cyclists on roads. For these reasons the BUG will continue to lobby against both these advisory speeds and the 10 km/h speed limits elsewhere.
However, it’s important that the opening of the path on the new bridge not be overshadowed by other issues. We are confident that these issues can all be resolved in much less than the 24 years it took to get the river crossing back for cyclists, and in the meantime Brisbane cyclists have a very functional new bridge for which the government should be commended.