COUNCILS LIABLE FOR INJURY ON SHARED PATHS

Manningham must now build dedicated bicycle paths–Footpaths are for pedestrians. Leading law firm Slater and Gordon have confirmed that Councils and the RTA  could be liable for any deaths or injuries occurring on shared bicycle paths. Currently there are no Speed Limits–No Risk Analysis or Duty of Care –No Insurance Cover–No Identification Required for Cyclists–No Means of Enforcing.

Dangers of Shared Paths Click to enlarge

Dangers of Shared Paths
Click to enlarge

Manningham Dual Paths Click to enlarge

Council Wanted Shared Paths
Click to enlarge

 Councils are creating these Shared Paths all over Australia and as a result, all pedestrians, especially children and the elderly are at great risk. It is an offence for anyone over the age of 12 to ride a bicycle on the footpath.  However, the Australian Road Rules allow the authorities to create a Shared Bicycle Path (SBP) and invite all cyclists to ride upon them.Currently, the following outrageous conditions generally prevail: Few if any Councils have undertaken

 detailed (independent) risk analyses or pedestrian safety audits There are no speed limits.

There is no offence for speeding on a bicycle in most jurisdictions. The only offences the authorities can prosecute are “ride, negligently, recklessly, or furiously”. These offences are very difficult to prove and enforce, especially as there are no speed limits. There is no insurance.  Pedestrians hit by a cyclist on a SBP have no claim against the Motor Accidents Authority as they would if they had been hit by a motor-vehicle. Cyclists are not required to display number-plates or be licensed and are almost impossible to recognise especially when most are wearing helmets and sunglasses.

Prior to Manningham cancelling the shared path plan, pedestrians and cyclists were expected to safely negotiate the steep gradients of up to 1 in 8 (12%) in Lawson and Short Streets). “To ensure a high level of accessibility for all members of the Doncaster Hill community”.

In 2002, Maria Guliano (see S&G advice), was struck by a cyclist on a SBP (Shared Bike Path), resulting in a severe traumatic head and brain injury.  She was forced to sue the Council and the RTA.  The matter was settled out of court.  An expert witness (engineer) was of the opinion that the speed traveled by the bicyclist of 20km per hour was unsafe for a SBP.

Cyclists are required to give way to pedestrians at all times on a SBP.  Yet many Councils erect signs advising cyclists to ring their bells.  This frequently frightens pedestrians and creates a most threatening and unfriendly environment.

Mr Scruby added:  “This is utter lunacy.  Under the current system, a cyclist can hit an elderly person on the footpath, cycle away and disappear.  Such injured persons can then be required to pay up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in health care costs from their own pockets, unless they sue the authorities.

“For all the above and many other compelling reasons, we should demand that the RTA and all Councils immediately cease the approval and creation of any future Shared Bicycle Paths and remove all existing SBPs unless and until all the above issues have been fully addressed, “We have an extremely vulnerable ageing population.  We are rapidly becoming the fattest nation in the world and regular walking is one of the best ways to stay fit.  But without a safe and welcoming pedestrian environment, people won’t walk.  Bicycle sales are at record levels.  While cycling is also a great form of exercise and transport, councils must be required to build Dedicated Cycle Paths.  Footpaths are for pedestrians.”  Mr Scruby said.

Nick, a spokesman for the Doncaster Hill Residents Group has asked this website to publish the initial bicycle/pedestrian circuit strategy of 2003 which contains engineers drawings for the narrowing of the roads around Doncaster Hill to accommodate wider foot paths. Manningham Council continued to promote the plan extensively until around 2010, when, according to the residents group, it was abandoned because the council’s underwriters had refused to cover Manningham for public liability due to the excessively steep gradients of dual path. Click on link below.

2003 PedCyc Plan

 

 

3 Comments

  1. Matthew says:

    Cyclists of all ages are allowed on footpaths in Queensland, Tasmania, the ACT and Northern Territory.
    Matthew

  2. Arthur L says:

    It is astonishing that Council could plan a shared pedestrian & Cycle route on footpaths with such steep gradients without taking into account the risk of injury to its users.
    We found comments in an early report (2004-2005), written by an independent panel, on how the steep terrain would affect the cycling circuit plan but maintained it would provide “access”, it said in part; “The Panel acknowledges that the shared paths will be too steep for most bicycle users. It may be that some cyclists will have to dismount and wheel their bicycles up the steep sections. This is due to the topography, which is a physical impediment to easy walking to the core of the activity centre, being the Westfield Shoppingtown. This consideration, however, does not obviate the need for a system of shared pathways to provide adequate “connectivity” through and within Doncaster Hill”.
    But it took five years for Council to respond to community concerns and abandon the shared bike circuit path, but not before it had spent a small fortune on plans, dodgy consultants and publications promoting it.

  3. Cargi says:

    There are only two shared paths from Doncaster Hill remaining, one from Schramms reserve, behind the council offices, to Ruffy Park lake and another that starts from near the Bowling Club to Westfield Shopping Centre. There are opportunities for pedestrians to be separated from cyclists but only at Schramms reserve.

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