Pressure to increase the age of footpath riding continues in NSW thanks to help from Independent Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich.
A consistent supporter of initiatives that make it easier for people to ride bikes, Alex Greenwich asked the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure representing the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, and Vice-President of the Executive Council to review the rules which force children between 12 and 16 to ride on the road.
Victoria and NSW are the only two states or territories in Australia that force children over the age of 12 to ride on the road.
This law forces children who are still building their bike skills and confidence to mix it with traffic and trucks. It discourages them from riding to school and living a healthy, active lifestyle.
It also divides families – due to an anomaly in the law, a 12-year-old cannot ride with their 11-year-old sibling on the footpath.
Sadly the response to questions regarding rationale behind the laws were met with vague responses.
However, the Minister noted that the government has asked the Centre for Road Safety to look into the age of riding a bicycle on the footpath.
As part of the review, the Centre for Road Safety will look at cognitive and physical development in children, as well as the safety of people ride or walk.
Bicycle Network would like to see the law changed in NSW (and Victoria) to allow anyone, of any age to ride on the footpath.
By allowing people who may be less confident to ride on the footpath, we’re creating a connected network where the existing lane, path or infrastructure is not practical to use or non-existent.
It not only works in all other states, there are also plenty of local examples where bike riders and pedestrians share spaces and paths coherently.
It also means that children, regardless of their age, can get to where they want to go without having to pedal on the road.
Building the case for footpath riding
For years Bicycle Network has been campaigning to see the age of footpath riding increased in NSW and Victoria.
But we know that we can't do it alone. Collective action makes a difference.
In November 2017, Father, Callum Gordon kicked off his own campaign to see the footpath riding law changed across New South Wales. Read the story as it appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald.
In April 2018, Coogee MP Bruce Notley-Smith joined the footpath riding campaign, launching a public petition that he will present to NSW parliament calling for all school children to be allowed to ride on the footpath.
You can add your support to the petition here: https://www.safecycling.com.au/