Illawarra Greens. Social justice, environmental sustainability, peace and non-violence and grassroots democracy.

Decriminalize bike riding on footpaths

Wollongong council to push for bikes to be allowed on footpaths and buses

Greens councillor Cath Blakey, said the changes would help get more people using bikes and were supported by the city's adopted cycling strategy.

Cr Blakey said she was in favour of all ages being able to ride on footpaths as it would especially allow more young people and women to feel safe while riding in busy areas without shared paths or cycling infrastructure. She said cyclists were allowed on footpaths in most states and territories, with NSW and Victoria the only two to outlaw riding on footpaths as a rule.

"I recognise some people are concerned about risks to pedestrians, and it is really important to give way to pedestrians, but this is mostly about formalising what already happens when people feel unsafe riding on the road anyway," she said.

"The problem with the rules now, is that police can apply them with discretion, which leads to some people being targeted and fined, while others are left alone."

She said allowing cyclists to ride of the footpath was just one of the improvements needed to encourage cycling, and needed to be combined with investment in dedicated cycling infrastructure.

"Personally, I don't actually like riding on the footpath - because you have to contend with driveways and other infrastructure - but there are some places you just don't feel safe riding on the road," she said. "This is not a perfect situation, and if we could retrofit cycleways on every single street I'd love to do that, but there's budget constraints and we can't change it overnight - so if we want people riding bikes now we need to change the rule."

Bike racks on buses makes public transport more viable: Cr Blakey said allowing bikes to be carried on buses would make public transport more viable for many people in Wollongong.

"I've ridden to work and then in the afternoon it's raining and you then have to leave your bike at work - so being able to have those mixed modes where you can put a bike on a train or on a bus would be really helpful," she said.

"In Wollongong, we've got lots of suburbs that are really hilly, so we can cycle down them but not necessarily back up - so having bike racks on buses would be great. "It would open up the catchment of people that are likely to catch the bus, because you can go so much further on a bike than you can walking, so there would be more people being able to get to the bus stop." She said bike racks could be installed as the bus fleet was upgraded, and would be able to be used on a first come, first served basis.


Story by Kate McIlwain at the Illawarra Mercury, 6 November 2023.