Return to the Brisbane Access and Inclusion page.
Table of contents
- Lord Mayor's introduction
- Executive summary
- Our shared vision for Brisbane
- A profile of people who benefit from better access and inclusion in Brisbane
- Council's history of access and inclusion initiatives
- Reflection on Council's changing approach to access and inclusion
- How this plan was developed
- Implementation, monitoring and reporting
- An innovative local government role
Brisbane is a fast changing and expanding city, with a complex web of pedestrian pathways, road networks and public transport system. Council is committed to ensuring that all residents and visitors are able to:
- Walk, wheel and drive safely around Brisbane.
- Catch high quality public transport.
What you have told us
In community consultation, we received detailed feedback on people's experience of pedestrian facilities and public transport, and it is clear that these are very significant for an accessible Brisbane. Community feedback identified 11 key community concerns that we have summarised below. Each of these has been considered by Council and a response identified in the relevant section of this plan.
On-street passenger loading can be dangerous
There are places in Brisbane where wheelchairs have to go onto a busy road when getting in or out of maxi-taxis or cars. We need safer set down bays with a clear path of travel for a wheelchair and either level access onto a footpath or multiple kerb ramps.
Ramp gradients - small changes would make a big difference
Many carers and wheelchair users are older and struggle pushing chairs up ramps, especially ramps that are outdoors and get slippery when wet. They need highly slip-resistant surfaces and lower gradients that make it easier and safer for a person with limited strength and stability to push a wheelchair.
Getting around Brisbane as a pedestrian is still difficult for many people
Footpaths are getting better but if you have mobility impairment there are many places you cannot go and many hazards along the way, and if you have low vision there are many obstacles in a changing city landscape. There are many places where Council has not provided a continuous path of travel. Sections of footpath or ramps are missing and it only takes one blockage to stop someone getting to their destination.
Nearly 65% of Your City Your Say survey respondents felt the footpaths they use on a regular basis are acceptable or better. However, people with a disability, and particularly those with a physical disability, rated the quality of footpaths worse than the total response group. “There are relatively few paved footpaths, they tend to end abruptly, and often one has to criss-cross the road to stay on the paved area.
Safety at signalised pedestrian crossings
People with low vision rely on audio signals for safety and direction at signalised pedestrian crossings. It is good that Council uses a signal button unit that provides audio and vibrating signals. However, Council's guideline for modifying the hours of operation in response to noise concerns means that people who rely on these signals cannot use parts of the city later at night and in the early morning.
More than 80% of survey respondents felt that pedestrian crossings are acceptable or better. However, people with a disability, and in particular those reporting blindness or low vision, had a much less favourable view of pedestrian crossings.
Collisions and near-misses between pedestrians and cyclists
People with low vision or hearing loss or those who are frail, unsteady on their feet or use wheelchairs, can find encounters with speeding bicycles particularly frightening and dangerous. Shared pathways are sites of ongoing tension and risk and cyclists on busy footpaths are perceived as a hazard.
Instability of wheelchairs and mobility devices on buses
People in wheelchairs and mobility devices travelling on Council buses feel at risk of unwanted movement or being tipped over when the bus turns a corner or brakes suddenly. This safety concern stops many people from using buses.
More than 66% of survey respondents said they felt secure in their seat or wheelchair space while they are travelling on Council buses. However, among respondents with a disability, this figure went down to 56% and among online respondents with a disability it was only 34%. “I get thrown around as the bus corners, starts and stops. Wheelchair brakes are not up to the forces experienced in a bus. Restraints of some type are required for safety.”
Footpath clutter obstructing the boarding point at bus stops
At some Council bus stops, particularly in the inner city, signage poles, rubbish bins and shelters intrude on the circulation space required to manoeuvre a mobility device onto a bus ramp.
Bus driver awareness
Generally, Brisbane's bus drivers go out of their way to assist passengers and we heard several positive stories of drivers going out of their way to be friendly and assist passengers. However, there is room for improvement in making sure all bus drivers wait for people to be seated before driving away, take corners carefully, look out for obstacles before deploying the ramp, raise seats for passengers who cannot do it themselves, issue concession and Companion Card tickets correctly, and understand how to engage with a wide range of passengers.
Awareness and understanding among fellow passengers
People with visible disabilities are discouraged from using buses and CityCats when they experience lack of respect and patience from other passengers. For example, people on mobility devices are uncomfortable when they experience negative non-verbals from other passengers when they try to board at peak travel times.
Council's public transport fleet and infrastructure lacks the kind of audio-visual announcement system common in other cities.
Public transport in other cities has digital displays and audio announcements that identify approaching buses, trams and stops. In Brisbane, people with low vision risk missing their bus, CityCat, ferry or their stop because the current boarding and set down cues are predominantly visual. Passengers with hearing loss also risk missing their stop and cannot easily communicate with the driver to find out where they are.
Accessibility of CityCats
People in wheelchairs and mobility devices find the boarding gangplanks that connect pontoons to CityCats difficult because the camber is steep, it varies with changing levels between the ferry and the pontoon, and it can change suddenly with the wash of a passing boat. It is often difficult to traverse and threatens to tip people out of their wheelchairs. They appreciate the help they receive from deckhands to board and exit. CityCats have limited circulation space and once they have a mobility device or two and a couple of prams on board, these block the circulation space for other passengers.
Nearly 65% of survey respondents said they felt safe when boarding Council ferries. Safety concerns were most prominent among respondents with a physical disability. “Older people like myself find the moving of both boat and landing unnerving.” “Movement on gang plank makes me stumble, but staff are very good with assistance.”