Minister distances himself from bikes-on-footpaths plan

Answers to questions asked by Greens Transport Spokesperson Lynn MacLaren MLC in Parliament tonight indicate that the State Government has backed off its hotly-received proposal to allow cyclists of all ages to ride on footpaths.

“In answers to Greens’ questions tonight, the Transport Minister denied reports that his Department has endorsed this idea, which blew up on talkback radio and on social media this week, with people both strongly for and against it,” Ms MacLaren said.

“The reality is that many WA cyclists already ride on pavements for short distances now, and sometimes with good reason, for example if they are cycling with young children or a section of road they are on is especially dangerous.

“The problem with the proposal as it was described by the Minister’s own Department in the media this week was that cyclists would be allowed to ride on all footpaths at any speed that they liked; this raised major concerns for pedestrians, who have every right to feel safe.

“I believe there is some merit in saying teenage and adult bike-riders should not be fined just because they are riding on a footpath, because in some cases they are making the most sensible decision for their own or their child’s safety.

“The idea therefore warrants more thought and refinement, perhaps in discussion with the police.

“Ultimately, however, the message for the Transport and the Road Safety ministers from this week is that they aren’t going to solve our urban transport problems without investing in more bike paths and well-designed cycle lanes.

“And if the Government wants a minimal-cost, immediate solution to cyclists’ genuine and well-founded concerns about their safety, then they must review their opposition to the Greens’ Safe Passing Distance legislation.”