Bicycle footpath rage

Dear Ed,

As a retired and aged journalist, may I seek your newspaper’s assistance in informing the growing number of cyclists on the Clarence with regard to the New South Wales cycling laws.

Speaking on behalf of many elderly and even some younger pedestrians, I find it necessary to point out that our Council rangers and local police are seriously absent in controlling the unruly and illegal behaviour being exhibited daily by cyclists riding on pedestrian footpaths without warning bells or hooters and, in some cases, rudely forcing walkers off the walkway.

Most of the walkers I have spoken to in Yamba and Grafton support my complaints, pointing out that cyclists all too often ride two abreast and sometimes in groups on narrow pathways where they are not legally entitled to be. I and others have actually been bumped into by bicycle enthusiasts approaching from behind without as much as ringing a bell or giving a verbal waning. It is also dangerous to walk on some Clarence Valley pavements at night as one is confronted by speeding cyclists without a front light, let alone a rear one for their own safety. We are also amazed at the growing number of cyclists who think they can ride on any footpath without a required helmet.

Very few cyclists have bells on their bicycles and, the few who do, appear to forget their essential purpose of warning pedestrians. It would also appear that more and more people are buying cycles at present for economic reasons and that these cycles are possibly being sold to them without as much as a bell let alone night lights.

For the information of all cyclists in the Clarence area, for instance, the relevant NSW legislation restricts cyclists to signposted dual-use footpaths only. In Yamba, for example, such a dual-use pathway is to be found between the port side caravan park at the bottom of Yamba Street and Shores Drive where all cyclists should deviate on to Yamba Road to proceed towards the Coles Shopping Centre. The pity, however, is that cyclists completely ignore the “Bicycle End” notice and continue on their way on a footpath hardly wide enough at some points for pedestrians to pass each other.

The fine for cycling on pedestrian only footpaths is $114; cycling without a helmet attracts a $318 fine; cycling without a bell or other warning device can cost $106 and, for failing to stop at a traffic stop sign, the fine is $457. In law, cyclists are also required to give way on dual paths to all aged scooters or other wheeled recreational devices. Cyclists are also required to not speed on dual walkways and not to exceed 10 k.p.h. which is twice normal walking speed.

The only adults allowed to cycle on footpaths are those supervising under 16-year-old children.

The talk among many pedestrians on the Clarence is why the authorities are turning a blind eye to very obvious and constant illegality and not taking any action of steps to safeguard all walkers, some of whom, for instance, now refuse to use Yamba’s river walk for cycle rage reasons

Thanking you in anticipation for your community and publishing interest.


Oscar Tamsen, Yamba