Brisbane plays the long game on bike lanes

Brisbane City Council has chosen not to rush in any pop-up bike lanes in response to the COVID-19 bike boom, instead announcing plans for permanent separated bikeways through the CBD.

In a statement earlier this week public and active transport committee chairman Ryan Murphy said the council had hoped to implement some more immediate infrastructure while traffic levels were down during the lockdown, but the engineering aspects proved “a bit more complex than we’d thought”.

With that window seemingly closed by traffic levels returning to normal, the good news is the council is now working with local bicycle user and lobby groups to design some fully separated, permanent bike lanes.

"We're taking a little bit of extra time right now to make sure that the design is finalised and it's safe for cyclists," said Cr Murphy.

This news is good news indeed, with separated bike infrastructure proven to be the best way to get more people on bikes – particularly in the post-COVID world where public transport may be less appealing.

But of course no bike project seems to be without controversy, with the latest Brisbane CBD plans sure to stir some predictable opposition against the plan to remove parking spaces in the CBD.

The argument by city shop keepers that removing parking will negatively impact their trade is understandable on the surface, but is consistently proven wrong when you do a little research.

Aside from the obvious benefits to the environment, health and congestion – creating more spaces for bikes in shopping districts is actually proven to improve the economy.

In fact, a case-study in Melbourne several years ago showed the economic impact of shoppers who rode bikes to generate 3.6 times more expenditure than those who drove.

Read more: An unfounded obsession with car parks

Touching on these concerns, Cr Murphy said that implementing the new bike lanes “will involve trade-offs but, ultimately, this is worth it, because we know more and more Brisbane residents are getting on their bike."

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