Friday 13 November 2009

On Yer Bike!

Over the next few years, infrastructure and planning decisions are going to be made for Cairns that determine the quality and amenity of our city’s future, writes CairnsBlog contributor Bryan Law.

The Queensland government has directed Cairns Regional Council to re-work the Cairns Plan, and bring it into line with its own Far North Queensland Regional Plan. Such a re-working was always a requirement of the state legislation, but without yesterday’s direction it would have happened in a more low-key manner, at the discretion of the CRC.

Given this week's five-year extension of Peter “she’ll be right” Tabulo’s tenure as chief Council Planning Manager, it may be only these Queensland legislative requirements that bring some environmental and social awareness to CRC approvals activity.

It’s a sad story for Cairns that over the past 18 months a small number of die-hard Councillors, like Margaret Cochrane, Alan Blake, and Sno Bonneau have consistently manipulated Council processes to undermine the Mayor’s authority - at the cost of reducing Council administration to an unedifying and largely unworkable shambles.

For a while these three could count on the active support of former CEO Noel “I’m in charge here” Briggs and his staff. Now that Noel’s gone, and Tabulo might be brought into line, they’re going to have to rely more and more on a coalition of business interests around Cairns to support their campaign of destabilisation.

Make no mistake, a despicable destabilisation campaign is already underway. We regularly see the Cairns Post snuggle up to Advance Cairns, Tourism Tropical North Queensland, and the Cairns Chamber of Commerce, as if they are the natural leadership of Cairns, as distinct from a bunch of mediocre PR flacks out for some taxpayers’ money.

Aeroglen to CBD cycleway

If you’re looking for an emblem of future planning conflict in Cairns, look no further than the photo of Alan “Save Our Trees" Blake in the Cairns Post last Saturday.

Alan stands alone, with a single placard, pretending that the planned Bikeway from Aeroglen to the CBD ought be cancelled because of a few disgruntled business operators just north of Airport Avenue.

Some may think it’s a sign of progress that Councillor Blake knows the word "tree", but it’s far from clear in the article that he understands its meaning. Likewise, he shows no comprehension of what a “bicycle” might be, or why cycleways are a more important part of Cairns' future than white elephant freeways.

For environmental, health and equity reasons, bicycles are going to play an essential role in a sustainable Cairns. Cyclways assist the mobility of kids, improve preventative health, reduce carbon emissions and other air pollutants, and save households money – all of which explains why bicycles have outsold cars in Australia for the past 9 years.

The Aeroglen to CBD cycleway is vital for cycling safety and development for the whole area north of Cairns, including Startford, Freshwater, Smithfield, and all the northern beaches. More will need to be done around the beaches, and in relation to the existing roundabouts on the Captain Cook Highway, but if we don’t fix the extremely dangerous choke point north of Airport Avenue, cycling in the north of Cairns will never reach its full potential.

According to Mayor Val Schier, there has been a flurry of emails supporting the cycleway since Alan Blake stunned the city with the extent of his hypocrisy. People understood for the first time that such a welcome proposal was under threat. The period for comments in the formal consultation process closes today.

Email them today, but much more importantly lobby your Divisional Councillor and keep a close eye on the three amigos who think they should be King (or Queen). Hold them accountable, they need it.
Meanwhile, I visited the service road cited by Councillor Blake, which “business operators” claimed would be unacceptably congested by a cycleway and lose valuable parking for local businesses.

This photo shows one example of how the curb-side parking is so highly regarded by those business operators who use it as free display space.

Others use it as overflow parking for their own commercial vehicles, and vehicles for sale. Council is in fact investigating additional parking at the rear of the industrial lot.

How glad they must be to have Blakey as their champion.


Richie said...

Some insightful comments and perspective from Bryan Law. You have to wonder what Blakey's real objective is given the abscence of any reasonable justifcation or willingness to compromise in his objection.

Bryan Outlaw said...

The "pro bike" lobby is all about take, take, take and refusing to address the legitimate concerns the community has with them.

Some of the issues raised with council include:

• "bike racers" riding 3-4 abreast on the road
• bikes on busy footpaths in the CBD for no reason
• bikes riding the wrong way on one-way streets
• bikes riding on the wrong side of the road
• bikes running red lights and failing to follow any "rules of the road"
• bicyclists with no helmets or any protective clothing

Because so few bicyclists follow any semblance of road rules, the community is justified in being skeptical spending millions on dedicated bikeways. Existing bikeways aren't used.

If Bates and his other bicycle cohorts want to build a consensus for their use of these vehicles, they should have conducted their own educational and enforcement campaigns to improve their position. Instead they are trying to ramrod their ideas thru what they perceive as a "green" council.

All of this is likely to backfire, and set the bicycle movement back.

Think about it.

And unlike the obese and duck-like Bryan Law, I ride regularly without issue.

Tony Hillier said...

While B.Law's comments re: the divisive and willful behaviour of the 'gang of three' ring true,it is equally clear that cyclists need to be acquainted with road rules (especially our Japanese friends).

Pussy Galore said...

'Brian Outlaw' is wrong to blame the 'bike lobby', whoever they are, for the conduct of cyclists, mostly foreign, in the CBD.

This is a police issue, they are breaking the law, what does he expect the 'bike lobby' to do about it, citizen arrests?

Most of the offenders hire their bikes, hire shops should be made to give each hirer a 'what to do, and what not to do sheet'.

KitchenSlut said...

There are a couple of trees marked with big crosses along the Esplanade near where Blakey has good mates in 181 The Esplanade as I understand?

Some of us who live nearby have not been recipients of such local interest from Blakey and have in fact been ignored on more substantive issues which still persist!?

Regardless I think the route and impact on business in the Aeroglen access road is an issue. Also I dont understand why we are replicating the current Esplanade bike path just a few metres away? Can someone in the bike lobby perhaps explain?

Bates said...

Dear Mr. Outlaw,

I look forward to you attending one of my free cycle clinics held every Saturday morning of the year at Smith Park. These are mainly intended for novices and school aged children, and I am sure you will feel right at home.



sunfish said...

I support funding for cycleways in general and feel they should be dramatically increased but i disagree with some parts of the planned cycleway. for the following reasons. I also feel the state federal governments are asking the impossible by spending huge amounts on road facilities for cars but expecting reductions in greenhouse emissions. Why not spend a significant amount of $ on cycle facilities. Why not billions instead of millions.
1. reproduces the facilities of existing cycleway. there is already a cycleway on the western side of the railway to the southern side of aeroglen. the road continuing beyond aeroglen is 60km speed limit and has wide verges suitable for joint bicycle car use. the existing cycleway could be upgraded for a smaller price than the new east of airport road section of the cycleway and the remaining money spent elsewhere to upgrade cycle facilites.
the intergration of a new railway crossing for cycles and pedestrians at magazine street would allow the existing route access to the continuation of the cook highway. (there is already a defacto crossing operating at this point adjacent the bus shelter).
2. the section besides the airport is exposed to sun wind noise where as the existing cycleway is more protected from these and more scenic. I believe that this section of cycleway will be quite unpleasant to ride. tho i concede that for cyclists coming in from the northern beaches it will be more direct.

3. the proposed section along the eastern side of the cook highway provides no access to residents or shops on its periphery. the only feed points are at its ends. where as the existing cycleway has residents on its edges. these people will continue to use the existing cycleway except perhaps when their finishing destination is east of sheridan. therefore there will still need to be maintainence of the existing cycleway.
4. other cycling facilities are more pressing need in cairns.,sadly there is limited funding for cycle facilities therefore monies spent need to be prioritized. logic dictates that existing cycle routes should be networked first. the proposed cycleway has minimal increase in the existing network. more appropriate would be providing formal cycle access at several points across sheridan and mcloed street. At present there is no point to cross sheridan that is entirely satisfactory. Therefore there is no safe or convenient link between the existing cycle tracks on the esplanade and those west of the railway line. Spending a large amount of money on a cycleway means that money can not be provided for these and other much need facilites. I really don't think it represents a good investment of meagre dollars available for cycle ways,.

KitchenSlut said...

Well said sunfish! I agree!Similarly while supporting cycleways, as I use them, I'm unconvinced this proposal hasn't been rushed and not well thought through. Just like past CBD failures like City Place, the Sunbus station and more!

I fail to see how building a cycleway along the edge of the Esplanade roadway, with increased access and parking problems, while there is already one in the park a few metres away parallel is money well spent? Why not spend the money elsewhere on improving or extending the network?

The cycleway brochure from council seemes to indicate the existing western cycleway between Collins Ave and Aeroglen will in future be linked with an extension along Lily Ck and into the CBD. However, I am also aware of some female cyclists who will not use this cycleway because of security concerns and this is the issue that needs to be considered with all such paths not adjacent to roadways.

I still haven't had anyone explain to me why we are replicating The Esplanade strip which is about a third of the entire proposed length of the current works?

Alison Alloway said...

KitchenSlut, why weren't you at the forum tonight...I was so looking forward to meeting you...yes, I know I am a "cheerless, sombre" ex public servant, but you are one of the best posters on this site!!!!

nocturnal congress said...

Christ...are we all seeing an (ugh) bloody LOVE STORY developing on this site?? I mean, Jesus bloody Christ.........Christ, mike Moore...bloody hell.....ughhhhhh

KitchenSlut said...

I was at the forum Alison and will make some comment in due course!

Richard Ireland won my award for content very surprisingly. Stuey Traill may even deserve a wrap! Calderwood won the award for empty rhetorical bore! Beer presented badly also but answered questions well mostly and made an idiot of Jason O'Brien. O'Brien turned up very late after promising Mackenzie on air today in very loudmouthed style he would be there and then squibbed the very issue he was most loudmouthed about and asked a different question to his most critical complaint he had previously raised on air with the wigged one.

The prominence of pollies of all persuasions making an appearance by coming or going early or late to attract visibility was obvious and disgusting. Shier, Entsch, Richardson, O'Brien, Blake! Almost the lot made a spectacle of themselves with late entry or exit!

But I am being far too verbose myself stimulated by the romantic accolades from my admirer Alison *swoon* *blush* :)

Alison Alloway said...

KitcehSlut, I agree with you. God damn you man, where were you? Where are you? I was speaking with Di Forsyth, Gary Schofield (my old editor by the way!) Warren Entsch and Charles Woodward whom I adore....where were you????

Unknown said...

I liked your letter to the Cairns Post today, Allison.

McKenzie just called it a piece of crap and total fantasy, so you must have hit a nerve.

He blames on 'no-shows" by the mayor.

He does not know what happened after,because he had no involvement in it.

I think the inquiry should be made public, so we all know what actually happened.

That still does not explain why the mayor keeps turning up every Friday, after McKenzie spends all week everything she does or wants to do.