Push for cyclists to use footpaths

Right path: Giant Wollongong bike shop owner David Hansen is in favour of a Bicycle NSW push to allow cyclists on the footpath. Picture: Robert Peet
Right path: Giant Wollongong bike shop owner David Hansen is in favour of a Bicycle NSW push to allow cyclists on the footpath. Picture: Robert Peet

Riding on the road is “a matter of survival” for cyclists, according to David Hansen.

The owner of Giant Wollongong – formerly Spearman’s Cycles – was in favour of a push from Bicycles NSW to change the law to allow all riders to use the footpath.

The idea behind the campaign is to arrest the decline in cycling numbers in NSW, which the group put down to riders not being interested in riding on the road due to safety issues.

“Commuting I ride a bike that I can ride on the footpath and on the road for the reason that the road’s so dangerous in a lot of areas that you take refuge on the footpath,” Mr Hansen said.

“If there happens to be a pedestrian there, well, they have priority.

“So you either get off if there’s no room, or you ride round them.

“It’s more a matter of survival than anything – you get hit by a car it’s a serious consequence.”

Mr Hansen has been selling cycles for 36 years and said each week someone would bring in a bike for repairs after a run-in with a car.

“I see it every week, it’s just ridiculous,” he said.

“I think riding on the footpath could be worthwhile.”

At present, only riders under 12 and those supervising them are legally allowed to ride on the footpath.

Breaking that law will cost a cyclist $110 and two demerit points.

Bicycling NSW CEO Craig Meagher wants that law scrapped so that everyone, no matter their age, can pedal on the path.

This is both for cyclists’ safety and to increase the number of riders. Mr Meagher said 12.5 per cent of the NSW population ride a bike once a week, compared to the national average of 15.5 per cent.

He said 12 was too young for a child to start riding on the road and claimed the move from pavement to bitumen made many turn away from cycling.

“There needs to be a change in the current cycling environment in NSW,” Mr Meagher said.

“Children are being forced to ride on the road at the age of 12.

“Adults who are re-discovering bike riding are being left with no option but to battle the roads.

“This is not an environment that encourages bike riding.

“Bicycle NSW has and always will advocate to create a better environment for cycling.”