Adults cycling on the footpath: What does the data show?
Submission Date: 2011
Adults cycling on the footpath: What do the data show? Narelle Haworth and Amy Schramm Recent increases in cycling have led to many media articles highlighting concerns about interactions between cyclists and pedestrians on footpaths and off-road paths. Under the Australian Road Rules, adults are not allowed to ride on footpaths unless accompanying a child 12 years of age or younger. However, this rule does not apply in Queensland. This paper reviews international studies that examine the safety of footpath cycling for both cyclists and pedestrians, and relevant Australian crash and injury data. The results of a survey of more than 2,500 Queensland adult cyclists are presented in terms of the frequency of footpath cycling, the characteristics of those cyclists and the characteristics of self-reported footpath crashes. A third of the respondents reported riding on the footpath and, of those, about two-thirds did so reluctantly. Riding on the footpath was more common for utilitarian trips and for new riders, although the average distance ridden on footpaths was greater for experienced riders. About 5% of distance ridden and a similar percentage of self-reported crashes occurred on footpaths. These data are discussed in terms of the Safe Systems principle of separating road users with vastly different levels of kinetic energy. The paper concludes that footpaths are important facilities for both inexperienced and experienced riders and for utilitarian riding, especially in locations riders consider do not provide a safe system for cycling.