For a Better Brisbane

The Cycling Economy

If the suburb of West End, Brisbane were a city, Portland, Oregon, USA might be what it would look like. Portland is known for a city-wide ‘freeway revolt’ which led to the defeat of an extensive freeway plan for the city, the Mount Hood Freeway proposal and then diverting those freeway funds into building what is now Portland’s MAX Light Rail system.

Portland is also known for cycling. What’s worth highlighting is what cycling is doing to Portland’s economy:

Portland’s reputation for bicycling and green building is helping create a new bicycle economy. According to a 2008 study by Alta Planning + Design, Portland’s growing bicycle industry contributed about $90 million to the local economy in 2007 and employed 1150 people.

This industry includes businesses that specialize in custom bicycle frames, bicycle components, bike racks and bicycling apparel and many retail bicycle shops. Several local design firms specialize in bicycle facility planning and design. Portland’s for-profit bicycle events attract riders and racers from around the world. A successful bicycle tourism industry draws on Portland’s reputation as a premier bicycling city, helping attract conventions and drawing tourist dollars both locally and from abroad.

– Portland Bicycle Plan, 2030

Brisbane is making good progress with its cycling initiatives. Unlike many other cities, Brisbane has a lot of trees in the urban area, pleasant, warm weather for most of the year and Jackarandas which make cycling very attractive for sightseeing.  Increasing the supply of highly visible on street bicycle parking and a legible, physically-protected-from-the-car north-south cycling route through the CBD, Fortitude Valley and on towards Brisbane’s northern suburbs will be something very important to encourage cycling.

Finding space for Copenhagen bike lanes through Brisbane’s CBD might be an issue, but further out, one barrier to having proper and perceptibly safe cycling lines like Copenhagen lanes seems to be paid car parking. Unfortunately bike lanes don’t seem make revenue like paid on street car parks do, which is going to be a bit of an obstacle to overcome if a Copenhagen lane is to replace them.

For example, Montague road, West End has space for 4 lanes of cars. 50% of that road space (2 lanes) is being used for pay car parking. Those lanes would probably be better off as bicycle lanes.

Click here to see a map of Brisbane’s bikeways.

YouTube Video from the New York Times YouTube channel


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November 9, 2010 at 10:15 pm

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