I recently saw a sign in my neighbourhood that said ‘The path is there to share,’ with pictures of both a pedestrian and a bicycle. I’m not sure when this changed, but it certainly wasn’t the case in the Sutherland Shire in my school days. I know because I was ticketed for riding on the footpath.
I’d ridden the first 3.5km on the roads and then most of the way down the Kingsway. Twenty metres from the school gate, a police car sat in the left lane of the highway. Three lanes of peak hour traffic trying to squeeze into two was dangerous enough without adding a cyclist to the mix, so I picked my bike up onto the footpath to ride the last twenty metres. The policeman stopped me and gave me a ticket. I’m sure that’s entrapment.
I’ve been very careful to never ride on the footpath since and often find myself muttering under my breath at cyclists who do. They’re generally aware of pedestrians and aren’t riding dangerously so I haven’t felt compelled to complain directly.
A good thing too, because since 2009, Sydney council has allowed cyclists to share some footpaths in an attempt to convert more people to cycling. The standard law allows children under 12 (and an accompanying adult) to cycle on all footpaths in NSW.
I’m yet to see one, but NSW now apparently has ‘bicycle storage areas‘ to allow cyclists to wait safely at traffic lights. I love the growth of bike paths around NSW, but for streets where they don’t exist, I believe these changes are a step in the right direction.