Currently, about 12.5 per cent of the NSW population rides a bike once a week: the lowest percentage in Australia.
With the national average sitting at 15.5pc and the ACT with the highest at 46.5pc, NSW is falling behind.
There have been a number of bicycle rider deaths and serious injuries on NSW roads; others have reported near passes on the road that could have caused further serious injury or death.
Bicycle NSW wants to see change in the current cycling environment in NSW, including footpath riding for all ages.
“Children are being forced to ride on the road at the age of 12,” says Bicycle NSW chief executive Craig Meagher. “Adults who are re-discovering bike riding are being left with no option but to battle the roads. This is not an environment that encourages bike riding.
“Bicycle NSW has and always will advocate to create a better environment for cycling. We are thankful to local, state and federal governments for the work they have already achieved for bike riding in NSW, but now we are calling for more action.”
As the law currently stands, footpath riding is illegal for the majority of bike riders. Only children under 12, and those supervising are legally, along with medical exemptions, able to ride on footpaths.
When a child turns 12 in NSW they must transition from riding on the footpath to riding on a road. Bicycle NSW argues that, at this age, children do not have the cognitive ability to ride on the road and mix with other vehicles safely.
The transition to road riding often sees children turn away from bike riding as they no longer see it as a safe option for recreation, transport or fun.
Bicycle NSW wants to create an environment that encourages children to stay active for longer, to ensure their physical and mental wellbeing.
The road can also be an intimidating place for inexperienced, older or younger riders, and those with passengers, such as parents with children. Providing a safe zone could encourage them to ride more.
Where segregated cycleways are not provided, having a footpath to safely share with pedestrians should be a viable option, Mr Meagher says.
Bicycle NSW is asking for a transition period to implement safer laws alongside an awareness campaign so that bike riders will be able to cycle on footpaths with respect for all those around them.
- To see Bicycle NSW’s advocacy for footpath riding, go to surveymonkey.com/r/bnswfootpaths