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
Where we are
Council installs and maintains infrastructure to support pedestrian access and safety, including sealed footpaths, kerb ramps, signalised pedestrian crossings and tactile ground surface indicators (TGSIs). We welcome requests from individuals with particular needs in particular locations and will investigate and prioritise responses.
Council recognises that detail is important in the design of accessible pedestrian infrastructure. Some of our work has set the benchmark for good practice that is being adopted nationally. We have developed and published some well-researched design specifications (Brisbane City Council Standard Drawings).
Council's Subdivision and Development Guidelines specify that where a developer is responsible for ‘contributed assets' (e.g. footpaths and kerb ramps), they should comply with the relevant Standard Drawings and Reference Specifications. Council's Brisbane Streetscape Design Guidelines recognise that developers often contribute footways to the urban environment and specify shady, accessible pedestrian infrastructure that reflects the adjacent land use and likely pedestrian traffic.
Brisbane has an extensive and growing network of shared pathways that Council is currently extending and enhancing through a significant budget allocation. Where possible, those paths are a minimum of three metres wide to allow easy shared usage among pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchairs, prams and mobility devices. Some are wider. Some high usage paths have designated or separated bike paths to keep pedestrians safe from speedy bicycles.
Council's provision of on-street disability parking bays in many city and suburban shopping precincts exceeds the Building Code of Australia minimum for shopping centre parking areas.
There are some challenges facing Brisbane.
We do our best to install and maintain sealed footpaths with firm, even surfaces in good condition. The challenges are that Brisbane has thousands of kilometres of footpaths, a hilly topography and many mature trees with roots that cause damage. Council has committed significant resources to maintenance and upgrades in recent years but in a big city, there are still areas where pathways require improvement. We are trialling innovative construction techniques that aim to keep pathways even.
We recognise that tactile ground surface indicators (TGSIs) can create tripping hazards for people using a cane or walker, people pushing prams and people in wheelchairs. While TGSIs are becoming a more common and welcome addition to our streetscape, we also heed the warning in the Australian Standards against their unnecessary proliferation and are monitoring their use and impact. We recognise that temporary blockage of TGSI trails can interfere with wayfinding.
We recognise that some common forms of temporary fencing and some of our street furniture can present tripping and entrapment hazards.
We do our best to install and maintain kerb ramps with appropriate incline and orientation. However, Brisbane's hilly topography and obstacles e.g. underground gas pipes and service pits provide challenges that mean we sometimes cannot install to our preferred specifications.
As a rule, we determine which streets get kerb, channel and sealed footpaths based on vehicle and pedestrian traffic volumes specified in the Australian Model Code for Residential Development (AMCORD). We also investigate and respond to requests for particular localities but often encounter local opposition from residents who prefer unsealed footpaths. We make decisions in those cases based on a majority of support by local residents and consideration of the hardship experienced by people with access concerns.
Many shared pathways have limited shade cover, lighting, seating and drinking water that would make them much more comfortable and user-friendly.
Council is responsible for local roadways and verges, while the Queensland Government (Department of Transport and Main Roads) is responsible for state controlled (main) roads. We have agreements in place that give Council responsibility for footpath maintenance on some state controlled roads. These arrangements present challenges with coordination, especially where different standards are used. However, we are committed to working together to coordinate our efforts.
Where we want to be
We want Brisbane residents and visitors to be able to reach destinations across the city easily, safely and efficiently.
- Coordinate our design, construction and maintenance schedules so that Brisbane has an accessible, connected, legible, enjoyable and safe pedestrian and public transport network on which all people can get to the places they want to go.
- Provide a level of accessible car parking for people with a disability that meets demand in localities across the city.
- Adopt guidelines that inform decision-making in situations where there has been a request for pedestrian infrastructure and there may be some opposition from local residents or businesses.
- Monitor usage volumes and patterns on our shared pathways network and, where appropriate, make these paths three metres wide, and put in designated separated pathways to allow easy and safe shared usage.
- Where appropriate, plant shade trees and install facilities to make shared pathways more comfortable and user-friendly.
Existing actions that will continue
Audio-tactile signals at signalised pedestrian crossings
We will continue to install audio-tactile crossing signals at all signalised pedestrian crossings and continue to investigate and respond to requests for their activation at particular crossings, subject to consultation with local residents where required. We will also continue to turn off the audio component at night in residential areas. However, in response to community feedback, we will work with key Brisbane stakeholder groups to review our guideline for audio-tactile signals and investigate the feasibility of new technologies to make signalised crossings safer for people with low vision.
Walk times at signalised pedestrian crossings
Council follows Austroads Guidelines for walk/don't walk times. Council will continue to consider and respond to requests to extend the allowed pedestrian time at particular traffic lights, balanced against the needs of other road users. Extended walk times are currently provided in locations where there is high use from specific user groups that require the additional time to cross safely.
Unsignalised pedestrian crossings
We will continue to create safer pedestrian crossings including the design and installation, where appropriate, of footpath build-outs and pedestrian refuge islands. We will continue to investigate and prioritise requests for particular localities in response to the needs of individuals and pedestrian demand.
Brisbane Mobility Map
We will review and update the Brisbane Mobility Map which shows path gradients, accessible paths of travel and accessible premises in the central business district (CBD).
Queen Street Mall Braille trail
We will continue to maintain and extend the Braille trail network in the CBD in dialogue with key user groups.
We are particularly proud of Brisbane City Council Standard Drawing UMS 213 Kerb Ramp which specifies orientation as well as ramp incline. We will continue to install to this specification and to make it a condition of development approvals that include footpath conditions. We will also retrofit old kerb ramps in response to requests.
Three metre-wide kerb ramp
Council's guideline for kerb ramps (Standard Drawing UMS 213 Kerb Ramp) contains provision for ramps to match width of paths (e.g. three metres-wide) which will enable easy and safe access to three metres-wide shared pathways. We will install these ramps at appropriate locations across the city and make these drawings available for developers and others to use.
Tactile ground surface indicators
We will continue to install tactile ground surface indicators (TGSIs) according to Australian Standards at locations of high use and on request. TGSIs at kerb ramps are installed on the flat surface on the top of the kerb (as shown on Brisbane City Council Standard Drawing UMS 213 Kerb Ramp), as mutually agreed by interest groups.
We will continue to increase current sub-standard path widths to a minimum width of 1.2m (or greater if demand requires) where opportunity exists through current maintenance and rehabilitation process.
Consistent, firm, even pathways
We will continue the assessment and implementation of new path joint systems to help prevent the creation of new displacements and trip hazards.
Shared pathway network
We will continue to build a bicycle and shared pathway network across Brisbane, reviewing usage patterns and volumes, making those paths a minimum of three metres wide and, where appropriate, putting in designated separated paths to allow easy and safe shared usage. When we revise Council's Active Travel Strategy, we will consider concerns about the safety of vulnerable pedestrians encountering bicycles on shared pathways and footpaths.
Lighting of bikeway (shared path) network
Where appropriate, we will continue to install lighting and solar markers for enhanced path delineation and guidance, and will review our lighting policy to support access and safety.
Linkages between pathways/bikeways and other public infrastructure
Where possible, we will continue to build accessible linkages from pathways/bikeways to bus stops, toilets and other destinations. We are developing a standard drawing for the ways that pathways/bikeways should link with bus stops and other public infrastructure including parks infrastructure.
Safe Routes to School
Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a national road safety program that Council implements in Brisbane in partnership with the Queensland Government. We will continue to investigate and respond to requests from school communities for improved pedestrian infrastructure.
Safe School Travel
Safe School Travel (SafeST) is a partnership with the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads that improves transport safety for all children regardless of whether they walk, cycle or travel as passengers in buses or cars. Council will continue to investigate and respond to requests from school communities for improvements to local road, parking, pick-up, footpath, bus stop and pedestrian crossings.
Parking for people with a disability
We will continue to provide a minimum percentage (2%) of designated parking bays for people with a disability in the Brisbane CBD and our CBD carparks. We will continue to retrofit suburban shopping areas with street parking bays for people with a disability at a rate that meets or exceeds the standards for commercial areas specified in the Building Code through the rollout of the Strategic City Improvement Program across the city. In addition, we will consider requests to set up more parking bays when there is a need in a particular locality.
New initiatives or extensions
- Internal coordination of pathway scheduling. We will establish a new internal mechanism to coordinate design, construction and maintenance schedules on our pedestrian and public transport networks to ensure (where practical and where there is a need in the community) that different infrastructure elements link up to provide an experience of seamless access.
- Tactile street signs. We have installed tactile street signs at several road crossings adjacent to Queen Street Mall in the CBD. We will evaluate this trial, identify priority localities across the city in consultation with appropriate community and advocacy groups and establish a schedule for installation over the life of this plan.
- Guidelines for prioritising requests for pedestrian infrastructure. In consultation with local councillors and relevant work units, we will develop guidelines to evaluate requests and inform decision-making in situations where there has been a request from the public for improved pedestrian infrastructure. Where there may be some opposition from local residents or businesses, we will provide materials explaining the importance of accessible pathways for affected pedestrians.
- Review of footpath hierarchy. We will review our footpath hierarchy (and, in particular, Council's Standard Drawings 231 Concrete Footpath 1.2m Wide and Standard Drawing 233 Concrete Footpaths Width Requirements and relevant sections of the Subdivision and Development Guidelines) with a view to determining circumstances where we would specify a minimum footpath width of 1.5m and then apply that to future planning and construction.
- Passenger loading zones with a clear path of travel away from traffic. We will identify appropriate and practical sites for passenger loading that have the potential to provide a clear path of travel away from traffic at key destinations. Where necessary we will modify and sign them as appropriate. We will then promote them via the taxi industry, stakeholder groups, Access Brisbane website and the Brisbane Mobility Map.
- Keeping gradients as gentle as possible. Where practical new pedestrian ramps in public spaces will be installed with a gradient no greater than 1:20. Where site constraints do not permit this, new pedestrian ramps will be installed at the lowest grade possible with appropriate slip resistant surface finishes.
- Pedestrian alerts. We will work with Brisbane stakeholder groups to extend our use of internet and mobile devices to provide updates on temporary obstacles or closures affecting pedestrians.