Footpath Bike Riding Age Increased to 16
NSW has fallen behind most states around Australia in making this law legal. Now the NSW Government has increased this age from under 12 years to 16 years, but what about everyone else?
“Bicycle NSW is disappointed that the age has only been increased to 16. Whilst this will see children continue to ride safer for longer, and also look after their physical and mental health, this law change does not cater for those newer or less confident riders. Footpaths can be a safe place off busy roads and can encourage more people to use a bicycle to move around their city.” said Alistair Ferguson, Bicycle NSW Executive Officer.
With only 12.5% of the NSW population having ridden a bike at least once in the last week, we are drastically falling behind the other states. Nationally this statistic is at 15.5%, while it comes to 46.% in the ACT. Bicycle NSW believes that just increasing this age to 16 will not be enough to encourage riders from all ages to cycle more.
As a form of active transport, bike riding increases a cyclist’s overall physical and mental wellbeing. With obesity increasing in Australia, we should be supporting more ways to improve the health of Australians. Bike riding is a great form of exercise that sees people commute to work. Ultimately, this eases the strain on roads and public transport - a benefit for riders and the environment.
Unfortunately, the road can be an intimidating place for some riders. Providing a safe zone for these riders will encourage them to ride more and further, improving their health. Where segregated cycleways are not provided, having the footpath that they can safely share with pedestrians should be a viable option.
“Bicycle NSW sees footpaths as a bridge towards proper cycling infrastructure. If we look towards the City of Sydney who are the current leaders in cycling infrastructure in NSW, we can see a mass increase in bike riding. They have double the number of people riding than greater Sydney. Where they have invested in building a separated cycleway on Kent Street there has been a 580% increase in 7 years. A phenomenal increase in a short amount of time. Footpaths are a good short term solution but cycling infrastructure will benefit our communities for longer.” continued Alistair Ferguson.
With the change to this law, the NSW Government will also need to consider how bicycle riders approach intersections. Currently, even if you can ride on footpaths riders are still required to dismount their bike at pedestrian crossings or at traffic lights (unless there is a bicycle lantern). This situation leads to a lack of continuity and connectivity in the bicycle network.
Bicycle NSW strongly encourages a rethink to this law and enabling all riders to cycle on footpaths. We understand there will need to be a transition period alongside an awareness campaign. Bike riders will need to cycle on footpaths, respect to those around them and ride to the environment. They will need to be conscious and courteous to pedestrians and be aware of obstacles in their environment such as animals, uneven paths and rubbish bins.
Let’s get more people riding across NSW by providing safer options.