Change to footpath riding law not enough

Bicycle Network is disappointed by the Andrews Labor Government’s decision to increase the age that people in Victoria can ride a bike on the footpath by just one year.

Instead of completely removing footpath riding age restrictions to be in line with other states, the government plans to increase the maximum age from 12 years to 13 years.

Bicycle Network General Manager of Public Affairs Anthea Hargreaves said that the decision means Victoria is quickly becoming Australia’s least bike-friendly state.

“Victoria will continue to be the state with the most draconian footpath riding laws and has missed an opportunity to instantly make bike riding safer for everyone,” said Ms Hargreaves.

“Daniel Andrews won’t let people make the decision to ride on the footpath and won’t legislate minimum passing distance laws. People who ride bikes think the Premier doesn’t care about them.”

Bicycle Network has long campaigned for a complete overhaul of footpath riding laws so that anyone can choose to ride a bike on the footpath when they don’t feel safe on the road.

No other state except for New South Wales have age restrictions on footpath riding. In July 2018 New South Wales increased the footpath riding age to 16-years-old, the age experts believe depth perception is fully developed.

“Instead of making real change, a lot of time and taxpayer money will be wasted on a miniscule change that still says if you’re a high school student you belong on the road,” added Ms Hargreaves.

“Letting people choose to ride on the footpath isn’t going to turn Bourke Street into a velodrome, it’s about enabling people who work or live on roads like Punt Road, Alexandra Parade or Bell Street to ride a bike.”

“Until we get a proper change to footpath riding laws we will continue to hear stories about people not riding when they want to, or being forced to break the law so they can safely get to school or work.”

In one positive move, footpath riding laws will change to allow anyone over the age of 13 to accompany someone under 13 on the footpath and for parents to ride on the footpath with a child in a carrier.

While Victoria’s roads and bike lanes continue to be underdeveloped, Bicycle Network will continue to push for removal of age restrictions to footpath riding.

New Victorian footpath riding laws – October 2019

  • Children under the age of 13 are allowed to ride a bike on the footpath
  • If you are aged 13 you can accompany a child under the age of 13 – this means siblings can ride on the footpath together
  • Adults aged 18 or older can ride on the footpath with a child in a child seat attached to their bicycle, or with a child pedalling on a bike attachment at the back of an adult bicycle
  • People with special conditions may be given medical certificates giving them an exception to ride on the footpath
  • When riding on the footpath you should always keep to the left (unless that is impractical) and give way to pedestrians  

Click here to read more about Bicycle Network’s footpath riding campaign.

Click here to see the changes on VicRoads website

An VicRoads illustration of changes to footpath riding rules.

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