Cyclists on the footpath

I described this on Twitter the other day, but I’ll expand on it here.

I was heading out in the car on Saturday afternoon.

Got in, beeped, looked behind me, slowly backed-out of my driveway.

BANG! A cyclist riding along the footpath with his dog (roughly at running pace) collided with my car.

I stopped, moved my car back into the driveway, and asked if he was okay. Thankfully he was. And his dog.

They carried on down the street, at the same speed.

Bicycles parked at Ormond station

Cyclists on footpaths

Cycling forms a vital part of the transport network, helping people travel longer distances than might be practical by walking, but without having to drive a vehicle.

Sometimes there are good reasons for cyclists to avoid riding on the road. Riding on some roads can be perilous due to driver behaviour.

Probably not my on street though. It’s fairly quiet. But what would you do if taking the dog out for a run?

In Victoria it’s completely legal to ride on the footpath for cyclists under 12, or accompanying those under 12. (Regulation 250)

(The bloke I encountered was an adult.)

The problem isn’t so much the bicycle itself, as the speed compared to other footpath users.

Just as cyclists come of worse in on-road collisions with motor vehicles, pedestrians come of worse in footpath collisions with cyclists.

For a bike going at anything much above walking speed, there’s a real danger of a collision with a vehicle or a person, especially given limited visibility to/from driveways and garden paths — in fact years ago one of my sons was hit by a cyclist while coming out of a front garden gate.

And yet some cyclists will persist in riding at speed along footpaths. Really not a good idea.

What could I have done?

My fence isn’t high, but the speed he was going, I’d have little chance of spotting him even if driving out forwards.

And he obviously didn’t spot me, and either didn’t hear the beep, or didn’t realise where it came from, or couldn’t stop in time.

There is one thing I could do: my driveway is short enough that I could have a quick look up and down the footpath before I get in the car. It might help.

Four minutes? Impossible!

I can’t help noticing that when traffic is relatively light, this sign on Kings Way always it’s 4 minutes to Williamstown Road.

4 minutes to Williamstown Road

This seems as optimistically unlikely as those old Citylink travel time promises. Google Maps reckons it’s 7.7 kilometres, and estimates a travel time without traffic of 6 minutes.

The speed limit along the freeway and over the Westgate bridge is 80 km/h, which by my calculations makes it just under 6 minutes if you were able to consistently do the speed limit for the whole distance. To do it in 4 minutes you’d need to be zooming along at about 115 km/h.

The estimate to get to the Western Ring Road seems a little more accurate.

Of course the very reason these signs are needed is because travel times on the roads can vary widely. In peak hour they are crowded and slow… in a city the size of Melbourne, this is inevitable, because it’s simply not efficient to move people in ones and twos in their cars.

Vicroads figures just released show that traffic continues to get slower… and that’s despite a multitude of motorways having been built, extended or widened over the last decade. This graphic from the PTUA:

Despite billions spent on roads, traffic is still getting slower.

In a big city I contend that it’s probably not possible to fix road congestion. But is it possible to reduce overall average travel times for everyone (not just motorists)?

Well yes it is. Vancouver’s managing to do it. How? By not building motorways, but upgrading public transport instead. The more people are off the road, the better.

Keep clear: Pedestrians walking!

I was pleased to see a couple of articles on page 5 of the May 2014 City of Glen Eira council newsletter, about the rights of pedestrians on footpaths.

Car blocking footpath #RoadMorons

The first notes the rules around keeping footpaths clear:Glen Eira News, May 2014: Pedestrians

Clearing the way for walking

During community consultation for Glen Eira City Council’s Walking Strategy, various concerns were raised regarding obstructions for walking. These obstructions range from overhanging branches from private properties, illegally parked vehicles and construction sites.

A key role of Council’s Parking and Prosecutions Department is to have a presence at schools within Glen Eira to ensure safety of children. This includes ensuring vehicles do not park over school crossings or footpaths.

It notes you can ring the council to get cases investigated.

The other concerns motorists using private driveways needing to give way to pedestrians:

Pedestrians and private driveways

Each year, a significant number of pedestrians including the elderly and children, are run down and seriously injured by vehicles exiting private driveways

Under the Victorian road rules, a driver exiting a private driveway must give way to pedestrians and all other traffic — even if such traffic is hidden by high front fences, hedges or buildings.

Glen Eira City Council Manager Transport Planning Terry Alexandrou said that blowing the horn before exiting the driveway is not giving way.


The correct way to exit a private driveway is:

1. drive slowly to the exit and stop with the nose or tail of the car just short of the footpath; and

2. at less than walking speed, inch out slowly across the footpath.

It’s worth noting that the Road Safety Rules 2009 makes it clear that motorists have to give way to pedestrians when entering or exiting any off-road area, and this “can include a driveway, service station or shopping centre” — it’s not just private residential driveways.

As I’ve noted before, this is contrary to common signage which urges pedestrians to “Beware of cars” — which they should of course, but in the absence of any warnings for motorists, could easily be misconstrued as implying vehicles don’t have to give way.

See also:

Give way to pedestrians when exiting a driveway or car park

Rego stickers are *so* last year

Lots of cars still seem to have rego stickers on them, even though they are being phased-out — you haven’t needed to have one on your car since the end of last year.

Rego stickers

…from 1 January 2014, Victoria will abolish registration labels for light vehicles, including passenger cars.


How will people know when they need to pay registration?

Although registration stickers will be no longer issued, there will be no change to the traditional reminders which car owners are used to receiving.

VicRoads will continue to send vehicle registration renewals notices around six weeks before registration is due, and a reminder letter will be sent if registration is not paid by the due date.

Vicroads: Discontinuation of registration labels

They also note that most other states have either already abolished registration stickers, or are about to.

Given it’s May and many more than half of cars still seem to have them, I assume many have expired but not been removed.

I peeled sticker off a few weeks ago, well after it expired. It took quite some time to remove completely, but on the bright side, I guess I’ll never have to do that again.

How many “bus lane” signs can you ignore? Better enforcement needed?

If you frequent the area, you might have noticed that the Ballarat Road has a lot more buses than usual. Not for the first time, the Regional Rail Link project has closed part of the Sunbury line, with buses ferrying passengers between Albion and Flemington Racecourse, resulting in convoys of buses doing train impersonations:

Sunbury line bustitution

Sensibly, the Regional Rail Link Authority organised to have bus lanes on the 6-lane section of Ballarat Road, to help the many people using the buses get through the traffic.

And they didn’t skimp on the signage, either — there are “BL” paint markings on the road, variable message signs, and conventional bus lane signs, all placed on a regular basis along the road.

Sunbury line bustitution: bus lanes

Sunbury line bustitution: bus lanes

Sunbury line bustitution: bus lanes

What amazed me while heading down there on Friday was that some motorists managed to ignore this prolific signage and drive for long distances in the bus lane.

Obviously some people are creatures of habit, but if you can ignore three separate types of signs (one flashing at you), repeated every couple of hundred metres, along a distance of several kilometres, then I’d suggest you’re either wilfully ignoring them, or just not paying attention.

Either way, it appears better enforcement is needed. Hopefully they are cracking down at least when it matters, during peak hours.