Pedestrian groups are calling for laws banning cyclists from footpaths after a 93-year-old man was fatally struck while walking.
The 93-year-old man, identified as Charlie Embrey by the Courier Mail, was struck by the cyclist in Burpengary, about 35km outside Brisbane, on June 15.
The man was treated by paramedics and then transported to Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, where he died.
The cyclist was a 43-year-old man and was not injured and police said the two parties collided when travelling in opposite directions on the footpath of Burpengary Service Road near Reynolds Court.
Queensland Walks executive officer Anna Campbell told the Courier Mail “pedestrians are the last thought of”.
“We need to be designing our footpaths for seniors, for people with disabilities and for kids, and if we do that right then everyone is going to be safe and you won’t find that conflict,” she said.
The death has prompted Victoria Walks to urge all state and territory governments to reconsider the laws which permit teenagers and adults to cycle on footpaths, saying the “risks posed to pedestrians, particularly the elderly are too great”.
“Elderly walkers in particular understand the dangers posed to them,” Dr Ben Rossiter, executive officer of Victoria Walks, said in the statement.
“Surveys have shown as many as 40 per cent of seniors say cyclists on shared walking and cycling paths discourage them from getting out and about.”
Dr Rossiter added most cyclist-pedestrian crashes are not reported, which means it is “difficult” to have an idea of how frequent they really are.
“[This] tragic death in Queensland highlights that the presence of cyclists on footpaths and shared paths can be a real – not only perceived – danger for slower-moving people on foot,” he said.
“Laws and transport infrastructure policies should reflect this danger that cyclists can and do pose to walkers.”
In the statement issued by Victoria Walks, Dr Rossiter, who is also the Vice President of the International Federation of Pedestrians, cited a 2018 report which outlines the most serious injuries are sustained by the pedestrian in cyclist-pedestrian collisions.
“In crashes between pedestrians and cyclists the most serious injuries sustained by the pedestrian are because of secondary impacts to the pedestrian’s head after hitting the ground,” the report, prepared by Victoria Walks and titled ‘Footpath cycling discussion paper’, states.
“Researchers modelling bicycle–pedestrian crashes found that the risk of a head injury to a pedestrian occurs at impacts with bikes travelling as slow as 10 km/h.”
Not only did Dr Rossiter call for the laws to be changed so adults are not allowed to cycle on the footpath, but for governments to prioritise funding for seperate paths for cyclists and pedestrians.
“Allowing footpath cycling because some cyclists don’t currently feel safe on roads is like robbing Peter to pay Paul”, Dr Rossiter said.
“It’s a disservice to anyone who believes people have a right to remain active and to move safely around their neighbourhoods.”
In Queensland, it is legal for cyclists to share footpaths with pedestrians, as long as they give way to all pedestrians and keep left.
In NSW, only children aged 16 and under are allowed to ride on footpaths. However, the state also has ‘shared paths’ for cyclists and pedestrians.
In Victoria, you are allowed to ride a bicycle on a footpath if you’re 13 or younger, are a person 13 and over who is accompanying a child under the age of 13, cycling with a young child attached to a bike seat or if you are “following the conditions on a medical certificate”.
In South Australia and Tasmania, all cyclists are allowed on footpaths unless a sign says otherwise.
All-age cycling is legal in WA and the Northern Territory.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.