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Hi guys (non-sexist meaning is intended here),
I have searched everywhere and cannot find any specific reference or law relating to bicycle speeds on the PSP's in Perth. Does anyone know of any regulated speed that we are supposed to be riding at?
The issue of what is an appropriate speed on a Shared Path (SP) is complex and not directly related to one specific law or well understood by the regulators or enforcers..
Firstly, a PSP is a specific type of shared path - a 'Principal' one. These are generally provided by the state government, along major transport corridors (freeways and railways) and is primarily intended for commuting and as a result often promoted as a fast cycling route, BUT, it remains a shared path with pedestrian priority.
Most Shared Paths are not PSPs and are not provided or intended for fast cycling. Although the regulators (state governments) often contend that speed limits cannot be applied or enforced on paths they are incorrect. In fact, given the design codes for SPs, there is arguably a clear duty of care obligation on regulators to post speed limits.
Austroads is the design code for roads and paths and is also the key document which any magistrate is able to refer to to determine whether the 'road manager' exercised proper duty of care. This document is very clear that a shared path is only suitable where speeds do not exceed 20kph. It is from that clear guidance that a defining appropriate speed is established.
In WA on all shared paths within the road reserve and PSPs elsewhere the regulatory powers sit with the state government (MRWA) who up to now have not posted any speed limits. That does not mean, however, that a speed limit is absent. Under the Road Traffic Code 2000 a speeding cyclist can be prosecuted for riding recklessly (section 229B) and, given that the appropriate maximum speed for a shared path is documented in the applicable design codes as 20kph, any speed that is seriously above that is potentially reckless.
Probably more relevant, and potentially with serious implications for cyclists, is that in the event where an accident caused serious injury to a pedestrian (or even another cyclist) then the cyclist could be deemed to be riding recklessly with all the consequences following on from that.
The logical conclusion is that there is a de facto 'speed limit' on shared paths of 20kph although, where it is not formally signed, the road authority may be considered just as liable as the cyclist, if not more so, for failing to post an appropriate limit.
Note: One of the main reasons why 20 kph is an appropriate limit is that, on a shared path, a cyclist is required to Give Way to any pedestrian on or crossing the shared path - and how can you do that at speed?
Now we come to PSPs:
Because they are actively promoted as fast commuting routes it is hard to see how a cyclist could be expected to cycle slowly. In fact the road authority responsible for their provision, without any speed regulation, could potentially be more at fault than the cyclist. Perhaps the main issue here is that fast cycling paths (PSPs) should not be shared with pedestrians. In that case, unless or until they are exclusive bike paths, then they should have a speed limit. BUT, in my opinion, a faster posted speed limit might be appropriate, together with a warning to pedestrians of fast cyclists. Until then cyclists are always in the invidious position of having to give way to all pedestrians which is not compatible with the intended speeds.
Usual caveats: I am not a lawyer, but I am conversant with both the regulations and design codes as well as significant legal advice relating to both.
Excellent, Thankyou for your very detailed explanation. 20kph is fine as I was slower than this when my accident occurred. For some reason I thought 10kph was the limit and that would be ridiculous but then I read the recent legislation update that allowed powered bikes up to 25 kph on the paths so I started thinking it must be faster.
Thankyou again for your prompt and detailed response...even with the appropriate disclaimer, which I expected anyway.
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