Samford Road/Wardell Street intersection upgrade

CBD BUG member John Nightingale last week attended a briefing on the Department of Transport and Main Roads’ planned upgrade of the intersection of Samford Rd and Wardell St. This is a major project, expected to cost about $90m at current prices. It is currently scheduled for construction starting in 2013. A full sized version of the concept plan below and other information is available on the project web page.

The project brochure does not contain any reference to cycling, which was not a good sign. Both Samford Rd and Wardell St are part of the Principal Cycle Network Plan, which means TMR is obliged by its Cycling Infrastructure Policy to ‘positively provide’ for cyclists in transport infrastructure projects on those roads. Where it cannot physically do so it must find a suitable alternative route and provide that instead.

The project team is not planning to ‘positively provide’ for cyclists on the roads through the intersection, but is instead planning to provide alternative cycle routes for both the east-west (Samford Rd) and north-south (Wardell St) axes. The team members cycled both axes to try to find out what cycling these roads and both journey axes was like currently. Peter Berkeley of TMR’s cycle network planning unit was also consulted and may even have taken part in the ‘on-road/on-bike’ exercise.

Sketch of proposed alternative cycle routes.

However, their proposals for alternative provision are as yet a bit amorphous. For the east-west axis, Pickering St, Gaythorne to South Pine Road, Alderley, has been identified as wide enough to put a shared path on the southern footpath for at least most of its length, as well as bike lanes on-road. It is also generally flat. There are problems at the Gaythorne end and the South Pine Rd end, but these will have to be worked through.

North-south is more of a problem. From north of Pickering St the general idea is to take peds and cyclists under Wardell after crossing the railway line, then a two way shared path to Samford Rd on the western side of Wardell. Cyclists then have a double crossing of Wardell then Samford Rds at the intersection, then along Samford shared path to turn left into Stirling St. But Stirling St ends at Lloyd St, only a hundred or two metres south of Samford Rd. What happens at Lloyd St was not discussed, but it looks a mess. Cyclists would probably have to return to Wardell. This is unlikely to be a final outcome as this is not a nice part of Wardell St for cyclists.

The team is, to its credit, planning improvements to local facilities for pedestrians and cyclists. Access to both Enogerra and Gaythorne railway stations is to be improved, with northern shared paths on Samford Rd at least on the western side of Wardell. There is room for same on the eastern side, but so far they only show a 2.25m footpath with greenery on that side. More work needs to be done to ensure that the best choices are made for short-trip peds and cyclists, especially access from and to the residential precinct on the western side of Wardell St north of Lloyd St.

The outcome for cycle commuters to and from the city and Ashgrove/Toowong depends partly on how unsuccessful the project is at encouraging greater car usage by its improvements to traffic flow. The team does seem aware of the goal of moving people rather than motor vehicles through the intersection, but community consultation has shown a great desire by Joe Public for freeway conditions so there might be some community resistance to better bus and footpath provision. Of course, the works proposed for the intersection and environs will only result in the same traffic queues in a few years unless there is more than basic provision for public and active transport.

It is clear that cycle commuters will need to take as high a profile as possible throughout the planning of the project to ensure that the job is done well. While relevant staff from TMR, BCC and TransLink will all be consulted, it is really the responsibility of the users to keep pressure on to obtain the best result.

For this reason, we are looking for cyclists interested in this area to work on the next stage of planning. If this area is part of your commute, or you’re familiar with this intersection, and interested in being involved please let us know. You can also provide feedback directly to the project team through their online feedback form, or visit the staffed displays. As with all projects, it’s important we have local knowledge (and provide it to the project team) so the project can deliver real improvements for cyclists, not an environment that is more hostile to cycling.

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6 Responses to Samford Road/Wardell Street intersection upgrade

  1. Ron Maskell says:

    None of Wardell St. is nice for cyclists. In either direction motor traffic travels fast on narrow lanes. The hills don’t favour cyclists going up or down. It would be good to be right off the road altogether.
    Things don’t get any better when Wardell becomes South Pine Rd. I don’t like major bodily trauma and I’m sure that that is what will be your destiny if you ride on either before and after this latest exercise in Campbell-madness.

  2. Leon says:

    While it would be a great inclusion, I’m not sure it’s sensible to pitch for dedicated facilities through this intersection. This is an old suburb and like many other areas of Brisbane of similar age (MacGregor Jubilee through Bardon and some parts of Moggill Road, for example) the existing corridor is simply too narrow to safely accommodate cyclists.

    However, let’s suppose we succeeded in adding dedicated cycle lanes to the nice, new upgraded intersection? Then what? What happens after you go through the nice, new upgraded intersection using the dedicated facilities? You rejoin general traffic. Even if you could find a middle ground and pitch for the inclusion of a separated, shared facility instead. You’d still get through the intersection only to rejoin general traffic further along.

    I’d be interested to see the results of the real world tests but as this is an old suburb, the existing corridor through this location has historically been very narrow for cars, let alone adding cyclists to the mix. I am all for including dedicated cycling facilities to as much of Brisbane as possible but personally, I don’t think this particular location is the place for them.

    Lastly, if the feedback indicates that Joe Public wants “freeway conditions” thanks to the new infrastructure, then surely that’s even less reason to tempt fate? We all know there’s a very good reason bicycles aren’t allowed on freeways…

  3. John Nightingale says:

    Leon,
    I wonder whether you are a local commuter who might be prepared to take part in the BUG’s work to get the best outcome for this project?
    I agree that there is no point in trying to put cycle lanes on either road at the intersection, and as you read the report on the meeting you see that no one is proposing to encourage cyclists into the intersection. The big problems are 1) the provision of facilities on Pickering St, both ends are a bit dubious, but should be OK for experienced on-road commuters; work needs to be done to ensure that the new facilities on Pickering St are up to the best standard – 4m shared path and on-road bike lanes, with excellent intersection treatments along the way. 2) the route south from Samford Rd is important and difficult – how could improvements possibly be made? What alternatives to Wardell St are there? East of Wardell looks bad; is there anything better west of it?

  4. Leon says:

    Not a local John, but use the area not infrequently when heading out to Mt Nebo / Glorious. Sometimes I’ll use Waterworks Road, other times I’ll go via Samford and Settlement Roads to get there.

    For further consideration:

    1. If a standard traffic lane is around 3.5m wide, I’m not sure how you’d manage to get 4m shared paths and on-road lanes on Pickering? It’s not so much about the facilities or treatments themselves, just the difficulty in providing proper, safe connections. I don’t see the benefits of providing dedicated treatments or facilities that don’t connect to anything, which is especially hard through this area for some of the reasons acknowledged above.

    2. I’ve personally never experienced problems travelling south from Samford Road (whether on Enoggera, Waterworks or Settlement Roads). I think Waterworks Road actually has quite good markings and bicycle facilities in comparison to the other roads in the area. However, the fact the shoulders are (almost) always occupied by parked cars means adding dedicated on-road facilities is simply unfeasible. Adding improvements would be difficult, and narrow an (already narrow) corridor.

    3. Again, there are just some places it’s best not to ride a bike. I’ve been happy to go via back streets to bypass Wardell Street and Stafford Road, which are best avoided by bicycle.

  5. victoria says:

    how many houses will be need to be removed?

  6. Leon says:

    Unknown at this stage Victoria.

    As with all major infrastructure projects, things like property requirements and feasibility are shaped and informed by the community consultation and technical investigations undertaken during the planning study. Detailed design usually follows.

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