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Controversial new Sydney bike lanes spark debate: 'Have to give way'

It seems everyone has a different view on how the bike lanes should operate.

Intense debate has erupted between Sydney pedestrians and cyclists over the correct etiquette when using the city's newest bike lanes.

The latest section of the controversial route — that connects Darlinghurst to Bondi Junction via Oxford Street — was bitterly opposed by store owners who said they'd negatively impact business. In the end they were ultimately given the green light however, with the last Bondi leg having been completed in February.

Since then, thousands of commuters have taken to the lanes to get around the city — but not without incident. Just yesterday, a pedestrian was apparently mowed down at Bondi Junction while crossing the lane.

New bike lanes in Sydney. Source: Yahoo News Australia.
Some areas in Sydney have been fitted with pedestrian crossings. Source: Yahoo News Australia.
The latest leg of the route was completed in February. Source: Yahoo News Australia.
The latest leg of the route was completed in February. Source: Yahoo News Australia.

The thoroughfare's use has prompted people to argue over who should be giving way to whom while using the lanes, with Sydneysiders flooding social media with their opposing views.

Cyclists must give way to pedestrians at all times, man claims

"To all the enthusiast bike riders that use the lanes around Bondi Junction at stupidly high speeds — and I’m a rider myself — you always have to give way to pedestrians, even if they are crossing your self-entitled bike lane," one furious man posted to a Bondi community Facebook page.

"Slow down — don’t be a hero, even though, yes, it is a bike lane (but that) doesn’t give you right of way, because if you hit someone, you’ll be up sh**t creek (sic) for a long time.

"All you food delivery riders that go through red lights and are using throttle-only bikes, the Highway Patrol will get you too."

A pedestrian and a cyclist were involved in an accident just yesterday. Source: Facebook.
A pedestrian and a cyclist were involved in an accident on Thursday. Source: Facebook.

The man's argument prompted a flurry of responses, with many refuting his stance.

"Can pedestrians also be more mindful and get off their phones? The amount of times I’ve had to shout at people to make way on shared paths or when they are WALKING in the bike lanes," a woman said. "Extremely dangerous, especially since I ride with my kids and have already had two accidents due to this. I was going, what, two kilometres an hour? Or I’m walking my bike."

The lanes are popular among delivery drivers and commuters alike. Source: Yahoo News Australia.
The lanes are popular among delivery drivers and commuters alike. Source: Yahoo News Australia.

Bike lanes 'should be treated like roads'

"Bike lanes should be treated the same way as a road," another person said. "Pedestrians should be using appropriate crossings and understand that bikes can’t stop or manoeuvre as fast as a pedestrian. The same way we don’t stand or walk in the middle of the road."

One Bondi local claimed cyclists in fact do not have to give way to pedestrians in bike lanes, only on shared paths.

"For a bit of clarity, if it's a designated bicycle lane, giving way to pedestrians is not mentioned in the rules. If it's a designated bike path you should give way to pedestrians," he said.

To which the man who posted the original comment argued: "Call the highway patrol and ask them — give way to pedestrians at all times anywhere, you can’t teach common sense or safety to these riders either."

Yahoo News Australia has sought clarity from Transport for NSW in regards to this argument. Online, it's not explicitly mentioned if cyclists must give way to people who need to cross over lanes.

Some lanes do however have designated pedestrian crossings.

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