One of our members recently contacted us with a good question about footpath riding with young children in Victoria. Unfortunately, the answer wasn’t so good.
Question: “Hi, I was wondering if you could tell me what the rules are in Victoria in terms of cycling on the footpath with a young child in a child seat?”
Shower answer: Legally, children under 12 can ride on the footpath, but must be on their own bike.
This is obviously a troubling thing to hear for parents riding with young children in a child seat, so we did some further digging.
A 2011 article from our former RideOn Magazine explains the differing laws for footpath riding across each state of Australia – and confirms that in Victoria an adult can only ride on the footpath if accompanying a child under 12.
“Children under 12 can ride on footpaths, but they must be on their own bike. The child must also be riding their own bike if an adult wishes to accompany them on a footpath. This means that an adult with a child in a tagalong, trailer or child seat is not permitted to ride on the footpath unless they also have another child under 12 with them riding their own bike. This restriction has caused much anger and frustration among riders with young children.”
Surely this can’t still be the case in 2019…
Sadly, our legal advisor at Maurice and Blackburn Alice Lau confirmed the bad news.
So, whilst a parent would of course be accompanying and supervising a child in a child seat, they are legally obliged to ride on the road.
— Craig Richards (@richobicycle) August 2, 2018
Let's get serious about footpath riding laws
Bicycle Network have long been campaigning to remove age restrictions in footpath riding laws in Victoria and New South Wales, where currently you must be under 12 or under 16 years old, respectively.
And the research is behind us. Studies show that children under 16 have difficulty doing a cognitive and motor task at the same time and have different reactions to emotion and excitement that impacts their risk-taking behavior – meaning footpaths, not roads, are the safest place for them to ride.
All other states in Australia allow people of all ages to ride on the footpath, it’s time Victoria and New South Wales caught up.
In regard to child seats, New South Wales is in fact one step ahead, with their laws including a clause that states a rider who is 16 years old or older must not ride on a footpath unless:
Of course there are some stretches of road in Victoria and New South Wales where riding on the footpath is not heavily policed or the rules are not enforced, but there are other areas where they are, and it shouldn't be left on parents to decide if they want to run the risk of breaking the law to keep their children safe.
If this latest example has made you realise just how ridiculous the current footpath riding laws are in some states of Australia, we encourage you to get in contact with decision makers to have your voice heard.See our footpath riding campaign
Together we can raise the age of footpath riding in Victoria and NSW.
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