Monday, 12 October 2015

Riding on the footpath

is not allowed in this state - unless you are under the age of twelve or are with a child under that age. There are also rare exceptions made for people like myself.
I ride my tricycle on the footpaths at the request of the police. I see it as a privilege and I have always tried to be particularly careful and courteous because of it. 
The law is about to change here. Cyclists will be allowed to use footpaths. The change is being made in an attempt to reduce the number of accidents involving cyclists.
Will it work? I don't know. 
What I do know is that cyclists are going to have to learn to share the footpaths. Riding on the footpath is not like riding on the road.
There are the obvious hazards such as cars coming out of driveways and the low hanging foliage that needs to be smartly ducked under. But there are also pedestrians. Pedestrians need to be treated with respect. They come in all shapes and sizes and degrees of impairment - youth, age, natural hearing loss, hearing loss induced by the use of ear plugs, natural sight loss, and sight loss induced by screen attention. There are people who are simply unaware of their surroundings and people who stroll slowly down the middle of the path not allowing anyone to pass. 
Cyclists need to be aware of all these people. Passing people from behind on the footpath is not like overtaking in a car. Pedestrians are even more unpredictable. You need to slow down, be sure they have become aware of you, wait for them to move over and then pass. 
You also need to thank people for moving over. It's polite. There are times when you acknowledge another driver. (I don't drive but I do observe these things.) Using footpaths involves you in much closer contact with pedestrians and, if this business of using footpaths is going to work, common courtesy demands a simple "Thank you". I wonder whether people will recognise that?

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