By Jorja McDonnell

Passionate protesters from the cycling community came out early this morning, in a show of solidarity among Brisbane riders who have been injured and killed on the city’s roads.

It follows an incident on April 20 at the Vulture Street/Stanley Street intersection in South Brisbane, where Shelley Cheng was injured.

The riders staged a ‘die-in’ – lying on the main road with their bikes – as a symbolic gesture to Brisbane City Council, which they believe isn’t doing enough to support cycling as a means of commuting in Brisbane.

While presenting a united front, all of the protesters had personal reasons for attending.

Shelley Cheng

Shelley walked herself to the emergency room after being hit by a car.

“I was riding on Vulture Street, trying to cross on to Stanley Street when a car hit me.

I hit my head and received a minor head injury, as well as extensive soft tissue injury. It was really frightening, and when I got hit, the motorist actually got out of her car and told me that I scared her.

[If we had separated bike lanes] motorists would be more aware of where they’re going, and the lanes would mark out more clearly for cyclists where to go; sometimes the road isn’t that clear.

I feel like [the protest] is the measure we’ve been left to because countless years of advocacy and petitions to council haven’t changed anything.

I don’t really feel sorry for the motorists this morning. I think they should feel sorry for me for being hit by a car. It’s been hard to get back on my bike, especially after being hit, but I rode to the protest today and already I’ve come really close with cars because they haven’t kept one metre away.”

Ann-Margaret O’Connor

Ann (pictured right) is a passionate cyclist, and takes her bike everywhere when she travels in her camper van.

“I’m here at the die-in because I’m new to Brisbane, and I love my bike. I’ve been really nervous about riding on the busy roads, but I also don’t want to have to leave my bike at home.

I know there’s lots of public transport and it’s very convenient, but I live in West End, it’s very central and it would be really easy and economical to ride my bike.

I’ve come today with a friend who’s a lot more confident than me, and am following them as they ride, but I’d just like to feel that it’s a safer environment.

For the past five months, Ann has been travelling in her camper van, and friends thought she was mad for bringing her bike along for her journey. But Ann says she’s glad to have it with her.

“I come from Central Queensland and have stopped here to join community projects. I’ve found a lot of coastal and country communities have been really bike-friendly. It’s when you come into the city areas that you get a bit hesitant because there’s so much traffic.”

Paul French

Paul stopped at the protest after coming by it on his way to work. He had heard about Shelley Cheng’s accident earlier in the week.

“A cyclist got hit here, and the council have been fudging around, doing nothing here for many years.
This is a really busy intersection here, and cyclists have every right to travel safely, just like everyone else. Council needs to pull their finger out and do something immediately.”

Jane Eldridge

Jane is a supporter of Space for Cycling Brisbane- a coalition of advocacy groups who want Brisbane to be a safe place for people of all abilities to use active transport.

“I want to support continued active transport, and safe cycling routes for urban and city commuters.
I live in Toowong and pass through this area regularly; I’m a keen advocate for cycling safety and am glad to get involved.”

Ian Kerr

Ian has been riding a recumbent bike as part of a long distance ride to raise money for a small village school in Palestine. He also uses this different style of bike on the roads in Brisbane.

“I actually feel pretty confident on this bike, more than I do on the road bike because it’s easier to balance. I’m low to the ground, so I always have a tall flag for safety and use big hand signals so people can see me, but yeah I’ve still had a few near misses.
I was down on the Gold Coast and a car suddenly went in front of me on a roundabout to take an off ramp – didn’t indicate or anything. That was pretty scary.”

Cr. Jonathan Sri

Councillor Jonathan Sri, Gabba Ward, was the organiser of the die in. He addressed the group on safety procedure before they headed out on to the road, and liaised with police to ensure the protest was safe and legal.

Jonathan Sri wants more than just a quick fix for cyclist and pedestrian safety – not just in his ward, but all over Brisbane.

“We’re sick of our friends getting sent to the emergency ward and in accidents that could have been prevented.

Traffic congestion in Brisbane is getting worse and worse, and we know that widening roads isn’t going to fix that.

We need to make it safer and easier for more people to walk and ride and catch public transport, otherwise we’re all going to be stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for several hours a day for the rest of our lives.

Unfortunately the city council is not investing the money in safe separated bike lanes, so we’ve been forced to use a more drastic process. We’ve tried petitions, we’ve tried submissions, we’ve written to the Lord Mayor, and they’re not listening.

We would call this protest off in a second if we could get the city council to commit to safe separated bike lanes and lower speed limits.

Normally when you ride along this intersection, you’ve got fast moving traffic going at 60 kilometres an hour and only a few centimetres between bikes and cars, so that’s much more dangerous.

If Council doesn’t make changes here we’re going to see more and more people end up in hospital, and I don’t want to see that.

It’s a shame we have to go down this road, but I’ve seen too many people end up in hospital. I’ve seen too many people with broken bones and permanent disabilities, and I as a local representative have a responsibility to my constituents to protect them, and I’m taking on that responsibility by pressuring the city council to improve cycling safety.”