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.
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.