Walking SA is the peak body for walking in South Australia representing the diverse range of walking interests of our members as well as the interests of walkers/pedestrians generally.
Whilst promoting increased walking in the community, for a wide range of individual and community benefits, we are concerned fundamentally with the safety of all pedestrians, whether it be those walking in the local neighbourhood through to those hiking in the bush.
We are concerned that cycling on footpaths, as allowed by the new regulations, increases the risk to pedestrians generally, and specifically for those more vulnerable such as children, the elderly and those with disabilities. We are also concerned that the impact of the change will be to discourage walking because of the perceived risks.
We note that there are many existing paths and trails that are for multipurpose users and the need for respect and tolerance between pedestrians and cyclists in these instances is paramount. This is not always the case in practice. Our anecdotal observations are that generally faster commuter cyclists would continue utilising existing shared paths and roads, with and without bike lanes. Those cyclists that do not feel safe in that environment are likely to use footpaths.
Walking SA would prefer for the regulation allowing cycling on footpaths not to have been implemented. Whilst acknowledging it has we would be seeking ways and means to minimise risks to both pedestrians and cyclists using footpaths so that injuries to either do not occur.
We are also concerned that the debate that has occurred around these regulations is of an “us and them” approach whether it be vehicle users and cyclists or cyclists and pedestrians. It is far more important to determine and implement solutions that encourage mutual respect and tolerance than encouraging conflict. There are many benefits to the community in both increased walking and cycling.
We highly recommend that:-
- There be appropriate speed limits for cyclists on footpaths.
- There be restrictions on cycling in heavy pedestrian traffic areas.
- There be an education campaign to ensure appropriate understanding of the regulations and promoting a harmonious approach to footpath use.
- That there be a campaign to encourage walking of all forms for the benefit of the community.
- There be a review process to assess the impact of this change and modify as determined.