Most adults ride on the road and on bike paths so it is often not until you have children yourself, and they start riding, do you find out that there are actually laws stating whether you can ride on the footpath or not. And the confusing thing in Australia, is that from state to state, the laws and rules differ. In most states kids up to the age of 12 are allowed to ride on the footpath. And a parent who is accompanying them can too. But some states allow any bicycle rider, of any age, to ride on the footpath. There is good research to suggest that the maximum age should be increased to 16 because, according to the Bicycle Network, "research shows, for students up to the age of 16, that their ability to assess risks on the road and their visual and perceptual skills aren't fully developed."
Allowing students to ride on footpaths – whether they're doing it for the first time or they've done it before during their primary school years - means they can learn these skills in an environment with far less traffic."A great article was published in The Age about riding bikes on footpaths and whether it is allowed or not. With all the hype of cyclists vs cars these days, this is a great topic that needs clarity amongst all cyclists - adults and children and pedestrians and car drivers as well. In the article, the author, Michael O'Reilly, clarifies that: "In half of Australia's states and major territories – Queensland, Tasmania, the ACT and the Northern Territory – adults are allowed to ride on the footpath. In the other states, however, it's illegal..."
This has since changed with South Australia now allowing any bicycle riders to ride on the footpath. However, Western Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria are still to follow.According to the Bicycle Network, "research shows students up to the age of 16 are much more likely to take risks adults wouldn't when riding on the roads making footpaths the best place for younger riders. ...Their ability to assess risks on the road and their visual and perceptual skills aren't fully developed, so allowing students to ride on footpaths – whether they're doing it for the first time or they've done it before during their primary school years - means they can learn these skills in an environment with far less traffic."
Lets help change the law for our children to ride with greater safety in every State.The Bicycle Network launched a campaign calling on the State Governments in Victoria, NSW, SA and WA to raise the legal riding age on footpaths to 16. As stated on their website, "The current laws in these states don't allow students aged 12 or older to ride on footpaths." You can see the campaign video here: Michael O'Reilly writes in another article about whether it is safe for your children to ride on the road, that "Lower speed limits in suburbs; 'bike train' supervised groups; improved infrastructure; safety education for young riders; and creating a culture of calm and tolerance are all improvements that would surely benefit all residents, not just the kids getting to school. RideOn magazine also wrote a very in-depth and great article about riding on footpaths here - talking about whether kids over the age of 11 should be allowed to ride on the footpath.
States in which there is a restricted age limit on cyclists on footpaths:In these states, children under 12 years of age can ride on a footpath. An adult rider who is supervising a cyclist under 12 may also ride with the young cyclist on the footpath. ALL OTHER RIDERS ARE NOT ALLOWED ON FOOTPATHS.
- VIC - https://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/safety-and-road-rules/road-rules/a-to-z-of-road-rules/bicycles
- NSW - http://roadsafety.transport.nsw.gov.au/stayingsafe/bicyclists/cyclingrules.html
- WA - Under current WA legislation, only children under 12 can legally ride bikes on footpaths. However, it was reported in May 2015 that the Government was working on changing the rules to allow all riders to use shared footpaths, similar to the QLD laws. http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/new-laws-will-allow-cyclists-to-legally-ride-on-footpaths-in-wa/news-story/c15e1bbdec5682e02014108c963871e0
States which allow cyclists of any age to ride on the footpath:
- QLD - https://www.qld.gov.au/transport/safety/rules/nonpowered/bicycle/
- TAS - http://www.transport.tas.gov.au/roadsafety/people/skating_and_cycling_rules
- SA - From 25 October 2015 cyclists of all ages are allowed to ride on footpaths. https://www.sa.gov.au/topics/transport-travel-and-motoring/cycling/cyclist-road-rules-and-safety
- NT - http://www.transport.nt.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/25635/cyclingsafety.pdf
- ACT - http://www.tams.act.gov.au/roads-transport/cycling/cycling_information/road_rules
- RideOn Magazine - Teens in Traffic: http://rideons.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/teens-in-traffic/
- The Age article about riding bikes on footpaths: http://www.theage.com.au/executive-style/fitness/blogs/on-your-bike/why-do-some-cyclists-ride-on-the-footpath-20140416-36qy2.html#ixzz2z6UCPtR2
- Bicycle Network Campaign to increase the age of riding on the footpath to 16: https://www.bicyclenetwork.com.au/general/policy-and-campaigns/1014/
- The Age Article about whether it is safe for your children to ride on the road http://www.theage.com.au/executive-style/fitness/blogs/on-your-bike/is-it-safe-for-children-to-ride-on-the-road-20131216-2zfo4.html