I live in New Farm and commute to work in the CBD by pushbike every day. As the riverwalk is no longer with us, I, and a LOT of other cyclists/peds, use the only other bikeway option to get to and from Teneriffe, New Farm, The Valley etc to the city. This is of course the bikeway which runs from the top of Bowen Tce, under the northern side of the Story Bridge, past the Medina Apartments, and them comes out onto Ivory Lane. It's not really ideal as a bikepath due to it being a wooden boardwalk in a section (slippery when wet ), it's very narrow, has quite blind corners, and lots of pedestrians use it. Anyway, that was the only option until this week when it was suddenly closed "due to maintenance". The provided detour involves negotiating two flights of steep stairs... There is about a 1 foot wide ramp next to one side the stairs, which has a chainlink fence right next to it - I've ridden down it, but I'm fairly sure the majority wouldn't be keen on that. Going up is another issue altogether and it becomes even more complicated when there's pedestrians or other cyclists there as it's a narrow staircase - and very much one-way when utilising the "ramp". When it was still closed on Wednesday I went and had a look from the Medina, nothing AT ALL had been done to it, and there were absolutely no workers anywhere. I talked to the staff at the apartment block who told me it was 100% a council matter, and that they had seen no people working on it. Anyway, I contacted the council as I thought it was absolute bulls*** that the only offroad bikeway from one of the CBD's closest suburbs was now non-functioning, especially seeing as it sees very high use with commuters. Today I received a helpful reply from the office of David Hinchcliffe, and I thought I'd copy paste it here in case anyone else wanted to know what was going on.
Seems like there is no real end in sight as far as it being re-opened... What a great way to encourage people to drive cars to work. Bloody bureaucratic uselessness.
First in the quote is an email from BUG to the council, and then David's reply. Below that I will attach the discussed picture.
From: Brisbane CBD BUG
Sent: Thursday, 27 October 2011 12:45 PM
Subject: CBD BUG media release re closure of laneway connecting to Ivory Lane
27 October 2011
Double whammy cuts off New Farm from city
Residents of New Farm and other inner northern suburbs were dealt another blow this week following the sudden and indefinite closure of their remaining off-road pedestrian and cyclist route to the city.
Since Riverwalk was washed away earlier this year the alternative pedestrian and cyclist route to the city included a pathway between the Story Bridge and Ivory Lane, behind the Medina apartment building. However, this route was far from ideal. It was too narrow for the number of people using it and Ivory Lane is so steep it is difficult to walk let alone cycle up. But it was the only real option for the several thousand people that previously used Riverwalk each day. This made it a critical off-road route not just for residents of the immediately adjacent suburbs of New Farm, Fortitude Valley and Teneriffe but also people from nearby northern suburbs such as Ascot and Hamilton. It allowed them to ride to the city in relative safety compared to using busy roads such as Ann Street.
However, Councilâ€™s indefinite closure of the laneway on Tuesday this week due to â€œland slippage and retaining wall collapseâ€ has demonstrated the vulnerable nature of Brisbaneâ€™s still largely un-developed cycle and pedestrian path network. This is a major deterrent to people cycling or walking to the city from the northern suburbs. The only available detour requires people to go all the way to the top of Ivory Lane, and then down two flights of stairs. This will put off all but the most determined.
Brisbane CBD Bicycle User Group spokesman Paul French said this isnâ€™t just an issue affecting pedestrians and cyclists, but everybody who travels to the city from those areas. The lack of safe and convenient pedestrian and cycle paths means people are likely to switch back to cars and public transport, causing more traffic congestion and further straining peak bus and train services.
The pathâ€™s closure is also another major blow for Councilâ€™s CityCycle public bike hire scheme, as New Farm was a key area for the scheme. Now the suburb has all but been cut off from the city, usage will drop significantly. Previous experience has shown that when cycleways are closed many people stop cycling. With no timeframe for the re-opening of the just-closed temporary route the schemeâ€™s viability is under threat.
â€œThe Brisbane City Council is currently saying they wonâ€™t start rebuilding Riverwalk until 2013, and it wonâ€™t be open until more than a year after that. This closure highlights the need for the re-instatement of the Riverwalk to be accelerated to re-establish a safe and reliable off-road link between the inner north-eastern suburbs and the CBDâ€. â€œBefore the destruction of the floating walkway the residents of these inner suburbs had started embracing walking and cycling as a healthy and convenient alternative to clogging the roads with carsâ€.
The CBD BUG wrote to the Lord Mayor to indicate its four essential design elements for the new Riverwalk: segregating cyclists and pedestrians (safety factor); design for commuter cyclists (safety factor); ensuring clear sight lines (safety factor); and enabling it for use during king tides (reliability).
â€œWhile the vital work of correctly designing the replacement structure to re-establish the link between the inner northern suburbs and the CBD continues, it is key for the Ivory Lane path to be reopened as soon as possible to keep alive important options for people to travel to the city from New Farm and surrounding suburbsâ€ Mr French stated.
Thank you for your media release drawing this issue to my attention.
Interestingly no-one from Council has seen fit to advise me of the closure which apparently occurred approx 3 days ago at the request of Medina apartment hotels.
After receiving your email I inspected the site and met with assistant manager for Medina, Warren Cullun. Mr Cullun advised that the bikeway / walkway construction is threatened by the movement of a rock wall which sits both underneath and next to the walkway. I have enclosed a photograph of the closed section of walkway which shows on the lefthand side a large 250kg rock leaning towards the walkway.
When the movement in the wall became apparent to Medina, they consulted with their engineers who strongly advised the site be enclosed immediately and Council agreement with the closure was sought and obtained.
Apparently there is a dispute between Medina and Council over responsibility for the walkway. At the moment it is on Medina's property and was constructed as a condition of approval approximately 13 years ago for use as a publicly accessible walkway. Medina wish to hand all responsibility and liability to Council and Council is apparently resisting that.
I must emphasise that the information I am providing is based on my discussion with Medina only. As yet, I have not received any information from Council. Clearly considering the high volume of useage (increased since the loss of floating river walkway as noted in your media statement below) this issue needs to be resolved immediately with decisive action. I suspect however that with lawyers involved on both sides, the resolution will be anything but quick.
I will continue to apply pressure to Council to have this matter resolved.