Cyclists on footpaths bug pedestrian

By Nicki Harper

12 comments
EVASIVE ACTION: Napier resident Lynne Cooper had to jump onto the road on the corner of Trinity Crescent and Taradale Road to avoid a cyclist who came hurtling around the corner. PHOTO/DUNCAN BROWN
EVASIVE ACTION: Napier resident Lynne Cooper had to jump onto the road on the corner of Trinity Crescent and Taradale Road to avoid a cyclist who came hurtling around the corner. PHOTO/DUNCAN BROWN

Two elderly walkers hit by cyclists on two occasions has led to fears pedestrians are being put at risk by cyclists riding on footpaths and shared walkways.

Napier resident Lynne Cooper said she walked daily and was regularly forced out of the way by oncoming bicycles on the footpath while on her ambles.

"I am sick of cyclists' expectations that pedestrians should move out of their way on footpaths parallel to roads that are not designated as shared walkways."

The most recent incident was when she was walking her dogs down Taradale Rd on Thursday this week and a group of cyclists approached her at speed, assuming she would move her dogs onto the road so they could get past.

"I decided enough was enough and stood my ground forcing the group to come to a screaming stop and even then I still had to move onto the grass verge to get past them."

In the past month her elderly parents aged in their 70s had had two different cyclists ride their bikes into the back of them causing bruising on both occasions, once on a footpath once on a shared walkway.

"In their words [the cyclists] 'I rung my bell and you didn't move out the way'.

"Both my parents are severely hearing impaired as are many of the elderly population.

"Like them, I am also severely hearing impaired and the first indication that there is a bike coming up behind me is when my dog reacts.

"Why should I live in fear of an accident when cyclists continue to break the law and I am forced off the designated pedestrian walkway?

"Does there have to be a major accident before someone does something about reminding people of the law and then reinforcing the message?"

A Napier City Council spokesperson said there had been no trend of people complaining about bicycles on footpaths, as was the case with other councils in the region.

Currently, riding bicycles on the footpath is illegal in New Zealand unless you are delivering mail or are cycling a wheeled recreation device that has a wheel diameter less than 355 millimetres (normally a tricycle or small child's bicycle).

There is also legislation around shared walkways in the Road Code, where unless specified cyclists were required to give way to the slowest moving party - in this case the pedestrians.

Mobility scooters, wheeled recreation vehicles and pedestrians, however, were required to use footpaths at all times, where practicable.

This law is currently being challenged by a Lower Hutt mum, Jane Clendon, who has petitioned Parliament to allow cycling on the footpath by children under 14 years of age (and accompanying adults), seniors over the age of 65, and vulnerable users (such as those with mental or physical disabilities).

She has also called to make bells mandatory for any bicycle used on footpaths or shared use paths; and allow local authorities to exclude, on a reasonable basis, certain areas of the footpath from being used for cycling.

Hawke's Bay cycling advocate Don Kennedy, who is a member of the Active Transport Group and chairman of the Hawke's Bay Ramblers, said members endeavoured to use the roads or shared pathways as much as possible.

"These issues come up from time to time, and safety is a subjective thing - some feel it's safer to go on the road, some on the footpath."

The main problem with cyclists on footpaths was the dangers around cars coming out of driveways, he said.

"A bike goes faster than a pedestrian and with the wind it's hard to hear vehicles - and that becomes more of an issue when you have subdivisions being built where there are multiple units using the same driveway."

When it came to racing bikes, he said bells were heavy and not practical.

Cycling CHB member Tim Mackie said that while riding on the footpaths was currently illegal, he thought it was fair and reasonable for young children who were not yet confident riders to use the footpaths.

"Cyclists should have a bell or a whistle because you come across pedestrians who are jogging or have earphones in and they are not concentraing on what's around them."

In general, he said it was incumbent on both parties to be aware and look out for other users.

This view was echoed by Hawke's Bay Regional Council cycle network co-ordinator Vicki Butterworth who said that when using shared pathways in particular, people needed to use common sense and courtesy.

"Understanding and respecting the needs of other users ensures everyone is safe and comfortable while they are on shared trails."

Hawke's Bay Regional Council cycle network co-ordinator Vicki Butterworth's top tips for using the Hawke's Bay trails:
● Keep left always, whether walking or cycling.
● Cyclists should give way to walkers.
● If in a group, walking or cycling, move over for other users - be courteous and respectful.
● Be aware of your surroundings, we share these facilities with others.
● If coming up to someone from behind, slow down and let them know you are there. A bell or a friendly hello is helpful.
● Dogs should only be in designated areas and must be kept under control.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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