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Should we change the rules about cycling on footpaths?

In response to calls to allow teenagers and adults to cycle on footpaths, Victoria Walks commissioned transport consultants MRCagney to review research on footpath cycling. Currently in Victoria only children under 12 and accompanying adults can ride on footpaths.

The report concluded:

  • “Advocacy for footpath cycling appears to be based on the misconception that it is safer. Footpath cycling is accompanied by a distinct set of safety risks for cyclists, particularly associated with visibility between motor vehicles and cyclists at intersections and driveways.”
  • “There is no clear evidence that cycling on footpaths is safer than cycling on the street”
  • “… crash risks for cyclists may be higher on the footpath than on the road.”
  • “…the presence of cyclists on footpaths is a real concern for people walking, particularly for elderly or other vulnerable users such as the vision impaired.”

In a survey of 1,128 Victorians aged 60 or over, 39% identified bicycle riders on shared paths as a moderate or major constraint to their walking (Victoria Walks, 2015).

Older people are particularly vulnerable on footpaths that are shared with cyclists. We want to encourage older people to walk, and as people age walking and accessing public transport becomes increasingly important. The issue of cycling safety is a concern for COTA Victoria, but solutions should not be at cost of safety for pedestrians. Riding infrastructure must be prioritised.

Read Victoria Walks media release.

For media coverage of this issue see:

Nine news morning

Nine 6pm news

7 News

Ten news

This news was categorised COTA Vic, News & Information and tagged with , , , , , , , , , .

10 Responses to Should we change the rules about cycling on footpaths?

  1. Millie Gaica-Marcetic says:

    Cyclists wanted bike lanes everywhere but unfortunately not financially possible. That does not mean that they can use the footpaths where there are pedestrians of all ages. The elderly and people with disabilities use those same footpaths.If they are allowed on the paths – there will be an increase in accidents and eventually there will be deaths.
    This is lunacy to even contemplate cyclists on paths. They don’t obey the road rules who will control them on the footpaths??? Bike Registration needs to be made compulsory for people over a certain age. School children up to high school level should be exempt from bike registration.

  2. Dale Peters says:

    The cycling situation is horrendous – on one hand, we are seeing an exponential increase in the number of “professional” cyclists taking up complete lanes on any day of the week but typically worse on weekends. They are oblivious to traffic & often ride up to 4 abreast, right up to and sometimes over the white lines, causing traffic to merge into one lane. This issue is obvious on Beach Road from St Kilda heading south towards Frankston. Given there is a dedicated bicycle track along the same route, I have no idea why vehicles that pay thousands of dollars for the right (some say “privilege”) to drive on our roads, cyclists I believe, should use said bike tracks.
    Regarding footpaths, I have to get out of the way of skateboarders, I don’t see how a few bikes would make it any worse for pedestrians. At least bikes have brakes and can alter direction much easier/quicker.
    Sincerely,
    Dale Peters

  3. Paul OSullivan says:

    As an older person who is a daily cyclist I believe that the law should be changed to allow cycling on footpaths in certain circumstances
    The problem at the moment is that cyclists are competing with vehicles on roads
    Designated bike lanes are important but sometimes they lead no where
    making it necessary to use the footpath at times
    There are numerous examples of this in the city that I could name
    Improved safety for cyclists by local and the Victorian Government will solve the issue of riding on footpaths

  4. M Dean says:

    Iam over 70, and have nearly been knock over, by Cyclists speeding up the footpath, outside my front gate.
    Cyclists ride across from Clarendon Street, East Melbourne and then up Victoria Parade, at great speed. In winter it’s dark and cyclist without lights are very hard to see.
    A neighbor was recently hospitalised after being hit by a cyclist. The cyclist did not stop to help.
    What can I do to?

  5. seniors2 says:

    Hi Dean,
    Experiences that you and a neighbour have had are examples of why we are opposed to allowing cycling on footpaths. It only takes the one cyclist to ride too fast, lose control or not anticipate someone’s movement on the footpath. There is research supporting how dangerous shared footpaths are for both pedestrian and rider. If you are keen to provide more details please email Donna Swan dswan@cotavic.org.au

    Also contact your local MP and say you want to talk directly to them about the dangers of cycling on footpaths. You can also write a letter and email to your MP and the Minister responsible Luke Donnellan luke.donnellan@parliament.vic.gov.au about your own experience and the experience of your neighbour. If you know anyone else who has also experienced a collision with a cyclist – enlist their involvement in seeing your MP

  6. Margaret Dietz says:

    I think if the footpath is divided by colour and the cyclists travel the same way as the traffic, as occurs in towns all over Germany; this will make it safer for pedestrians and encourage riders of all ages, young and old, to take up a healthy past time.

  7. Victoria Wells says:

    Thank you Margaret, for your suggestions. COTA also believes that such a system would make walking safer for both pedestrians but also for cyclists.

    COTA Team

  8. Victoria Wells says:

    Thank you for your comments Paul. We agree with you that improved safety for cyclists would improve in the situation for both cyclists and pedestrians. Victoria Walks are running a campaign at the moment about safety for pedestrians and cycling. We have backed this campaign and have issued a press release on this subject. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    COTA team

  9. Victoria Wells says:

    thanks for you comment Dale. We at COTA agree that any form of wheels (bikes or skateboarders) are a hazard to walkers. We would encourage the use of dedicated bike paths by cyclists; this way both walkers and cyclists are safer. I would also direct you to our press release about the subject and to look at Victoria Walks website about this subject.

    Thanks again
    COTA Team