It wasn’t planned this way, but this week’s posts seem to have been all about pedestrians/walking.
Along with rules about not parking over footpaths (and vehicles needing to give way to pedestrians when crossing footpaths), some people seem to be unaware that there are rules about keeping vegetation clear of footpaths.
Able-bodied people can duck or brush past overhanging trees, or detour onto a nature strip, but someone pushing a mobility aid or a pram may not be able to do that.
In my area, the City of Glen Eira says:
Property owners are responsible for keeping trees and shrubs under control and trimmed back to ensure pedestrian safety and clear sightlines for drivers.
Trees must be trimmed to a height of three metres above the ground and, at least, vertically in line with the property boundary. Shrubs must not protrude beyond the fence line or encroach onto the footpath.
The precise rules vary by council area, but the City of Monash describes it nicely in this diagram:
Why 2.5 to 3 metres? I suppose it allows for cases where rain weighs down tree branches, bringing them lower. You also need to account for an adult riding a bike (accompanying children doing the same, which is perfectly legal) — their height is likely to be higher than 2 metres.
What’s not clear to me is whether property owners or the councils have responsibility for trees on the nature strip.
City of Monash says: Council acknowledges its duty to ensure street trees and other public vegetation does not encroach onto footpaths.
…but other rules imply that property owners are meant to keep nature strips under control. Personally, I’m happy to take this responsibility.
Some people in my street seem to take no such interest. Should I flag such issues with council? It might be quicker to sneak out with pruning shears and do it myself! Hmm, vigilante footpath clearers…
It’s worth checking the precise rules in your area.
Do your bit to help walkability: for the sake of pedestrians in your street, keep overhanging trees and other vegetation off the footpath.
- City of Maribyrnong: Nature strip landscape policy
- City of Kingston: Keeping Footpaths Clear
- City of Whitehorse: Overhanging Vegetation
(Try Googling your local council name and: footpath overhang, or similar terms)