Pedestrian Council of Australia
Safety Amenity Access Health

The Walking Class Heroes


Monday 21 December 2015

New NSW Cycling Package is a Good Start
But Shared Paths are Not Safe

Background: NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay has just issued a Media Release entitled: "WHEELING OUT NEW CYCLING SAFETY PACKAGE" - copy attached and more information at:

The Chairman of the PCA, Harold Scruby, said: "We congratulate Minister Gay for being the first politician in Australia to tackle the problem of cycling safety. We agree with most of his initiatives, but he has failed to tackle the most important issue and that is speed limits on Shared Paths and the penalties for speeding on a bicycle. (The PCA was a member of the Cycling Roundtable).

"Currently, the speed limit on a Shared Path in NSW is the same as the adjacent road. For example, the speed limit on the busiest Shared Path in Australia, the footpath adjacent to the Bradfield Highway, where scores of primary school children are forced to walk each day, is 70 km/h.

"This was confirmed by NSW Police Assistant Commissioner John Hartley in an email to the PCA on 27 November 2015 (quote):

I can confirm that there is no general speed limit on footpaths and the adjacent road speed limit only applies to that length of road. To prosecute for a speeding type offence on the footpath against a bicycle rider police would normally proceed (if there is evidence) with the offence of 'Ride bicycle negligently, furiously or recklessly' which attracts a penalty infringement of $71 or court imposed $2200. Whilst police have the legislative ability to enforce signposted speed limits on shared paths (10km) there are technical and practicable limitations on how this is undertaken, hopefully the recent Government Roundtable on Bicycle safety will produce some results/clarification.

"In Victoria and Queensland, the penalties for speeding on a bicycle mirror the penalties for light vehicles without the Demerit Points. Additionally, cyclists carry no compulsory insurance. In 2002, Mrs Maria Guliano was hit by a cyclist on the Iron Cove Bridge Shared Path. The cyclist disappeared. She suffered permanent brain damage and required a full time carer. Her husband was forced to sue the RTA and Leichhardt Council. An expert witness in the court case estimated the cyclist was travelling at under 20 km/h.

"We have a rapidly ageing population in which the highest cause of death for people over 50 is from a fall. These new rules give no consideration for people with disabilities, particularly those with hearing and visual impairment. Apart from the inherent potential for harm, cyclists travelling at high speed ruin the amenity of the footpath and discourage walking, which is the best exercise for most Australians. Recent studies by SHFA revealed that even though the entire Pyrmont Bridge is sign-posted with a maximum speed limit of 10 km/h, the average speed of cyclists in the morning was 23 km/h and in the evening, 27 km/h. Some cyclists reached speeds of 50 km/h.

"We call on Minister Gay to immediately introduce a mandatory 10 km/h Speed Limit on all Shared Paths in NSW with much tougher penalties for speeding on a footpath and riding on a footpath (non Shared Path). Mr Scruby said.