As I was cycling along the footpath this morning in an area that is partly a shared path I had a comment from the one pedestrian I saw, he said “You shouldn’t be there”. He wasn’t angry or abusive, I did not do anything which could have aggravated him and there was plenty of space on the path for both of us. A short distance along the path there was this yellow sign as bikes are common in this area …
When I ride along the footpath I ride very slowly and I am extremely mindful of pedestrians, I go around them onto the grassy area if necessary and if they make way for me in any way I thank them. Most are fine with this. However, his comment got me thinking whether some footpaths should become shared paths. Not many pedestrians use footpaths around here anymore. Many of them are wide enough now to be used as shared paths, though some should be widened to achieve this.
I recently researched a possible trip in Sydney, where I intend to travel from Central station to the southern suburbs. Sydney has some excellent maps of its bicycle network, and I looked at them and found that the Princes Highway, once it gets beyond the Inner West, has the footpath on one side as a designated shared path. Not quite believing this, I searched Google Streetview to see how it looked and found that the footpath was quite empty of pedestrians, (although there was one cyclist on the path), for the majority of the trip I have planned, the exception being an area where there is a shopping centre which extends for several blocks and through which I could easily wheel my bike.
There are also parts of Newcastle where footpaths have become shared paths, though it can be unclear where the bikes should go once the shared area ends and this can be confusing for both pedestrians and cyclists. Two such areas are Union St near The Junction and Glebe Rd near the Adamstown gates.