Age restrictions on footpath bike riding should be removed in Melbourne to make it easier for people to exercise in local areas without having to travel to find bike friendly trails, limiting the spread of COVID-19.
Only children aged up to 13 years can ride a bike on the pavement in Victoria, regardless of whether the adjacent road has no bike lane, high speed limits or is used by heavy vehicles. The rules can stop people from riding near home, causing them to travel to off-road bike trails.
Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richards said changing footpath riding rules would give everyone safe space to exercise without leaving their suburb and breaking COVID-19 restrictions.
“Removing age limits on footpath bike riding is a quick and easy way to create more space for people to exercise near home while we work to stop the spread of coronavirus,” said Mr Richards.
“The bike boom during the first lockdown showed us that people love riding bikes, but the current lockdown has made that harder for people who don’t live near an off-road trail.”
Victoria and New South Wales are the only places in Australia with age limits on footpath riding, however in NSW the limit is 16. States like South Australia and Western Australis that removed restrictions a few years ago did not have problems with conflict between people on bikes and pedestrians.
“The vast majority of people who ride a bike on the pavement do it respectfully and slowly which means there are rarely issues for people walking. We say ride no faster than someone can run,” added Mr Richards.
“Like other restrictions and law changes made to limit the spread of COVID-19, the footpath riding rule change could be made instantly and would benefit everyone.”
Removing footpath riding age limits is part of Bicycle Network’s Pedalling to a Normal plan which outlines how we can bounce back from COVID-19. The submission has been received by federal, local and state governments including Victorian Minister for Roads.
The maximum age for footpath riding in Victoria was increased from 12 years to 13 years in October 2019. People aged over 13 years can ride on the footpath if accompanying a child under 13 years. Adults may also ride on the footpath with a child under 13 in a seat on their bike.
Bike riding during COVID-19
With all the changes in our lives at the moment, the good news is we can still go for a pedal.
But with so many announcements, it’s hard to know exactly what you should do.
To help keep everyone safe, please follow these three simple steps when you hop on the bike if you live in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire.
- Cover up: Make sure you have a mask with you and pop it on whenever you’re near other people.
- Stay local: Keep it local where you can. Go to the bike path nearest your home or start your road ride from your front door.
- Keep your distance: Only ride with people from the same house or one other person. And make sure you keep 1.5 metres apart.
When you get home feeling amazing - please don’t forget to wash your hands.
If we do the right thing now, the sooner we’ll be riding on to a better normal.
This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.