Cyclists will no longer be allowed to ride on specified footpaths in Penola & Millicent from July 1.
The Wattle Range Council has passed a motion to ban cycling from specified main street footpaths in Penola and Millicent from July 1. To our knowledge, this is the first Council to pass such a requirement since the new rules allowing all South Australians to ride on footpaths, came into effect.
The Council sought public feedback relating to the footpath network in these areas, with a majority of the local community supporting the ban.
Mayor Peter Gandolfi said: “Safety of pedestrians is paramount and banning the riding of bicycles in these areas ensures pedestrians using the footpaths can go about their daily business without the risk of a cyclists running into them.”
Our membership surveys on these new rules are clear – the opportunity for all South Australians to be able to ride on footpaths has proven to provide significant encouragement to those who do not currently ride regularly (particularly so for women) as it removes concerns of having to share the road with motorists. And more people riding and getting active is good for our community.
Bike SA encourages Councils to make any decisions on excluding bicycles on footpaths in their local area based on evidence and not as an emotive response to a perceived risk.
While the Council rightly undertook a community survey on the matter, we are disappointed that any such survey would not have been able to provide any supplementary data to community members on whether the level of incidents increased or not as a result of the new rules.
The recent Local Government Association’s Round Table Forum into this issue agreed that a formal evaluation process over a two year period is the appropriate way forward, so that any proposed exclusion zones are based on the facts alone.
For decades, children under the age of twelve across the state have been able to ride on footpaths and over the last three years, adults were allowed to ride with them as well on a footpath. More active kids are healthier kids.
Owing to the nature of the new regulations, the proposed changes in Penola and Millicent will mean that children and their family members will no longer be able to ride safely on their footpaths. They will be forced to ride on the main road in and amongst cars and the many heavy freight vehicles that move through daily.
In our experience, such changes will mean only one thing – children and adults will be less active in these communities. Rather than a blanket ban, a more appropriate way forward to allay community concerns, would be for Council to undertake a simple education campaign to encourage riders to travel at walking pace or dismount when these footpath zones are congested with pedestrians.