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Footpath commuting - thoughts?

Posted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 5:56 pm
by DragsterGirl83
Heya,

Just into week 4 of commuting daily and loving it! It's like meditating/exercising twice a day and is the best part about the working week. Ride from about Sydney Park in St Peters through to Jones Bay Wharf/Star City Casino area.

Just wanted to know fellow commuters' thoughts about riding on the footpath if you don't have a specific road bike. Have been riding my retro dragster, which is slow and has very wide apehanger style handlebars - a real head turner, but not exactly built for the road. Now around Newtown way everyone's lovely, footpath cycling is the norm here and nobody would even think twice. Around Pyrmont way not so much, but only received a few negative comments (mainly from old people) about how I 'should be on the road', to which I respond 'it's not a road bike, it's a dragster' then continue on my way.

Now the boyfriend says I legally have to ride with a helmet and on the road or I'll get booked. My point is that even seasoned commuters might struggle to ride it all down King St/City Rd/George St/Harris St - these are busy main roads! Even the boy says it's a difficult bike to ride in comparison to say, a BMX. He says the fine is up to $200, does anyone have any specifics on how much such fines are?

The other day there was a cop booking road cyclists in Pyrmont for running red lights. He was standing on the footpath and I rode by him brazenly on thew path - he looked but said nothing about me being sans helmet or anything....

Just want to know what the social conventions are for people with vintage/retro style bikes that don't belong on the road? I figure I'll just stay on the footpath until these supposedly amazing CBD bike lanes are built - which I ain't holding my breath for, have not seen any roadwork around town to speak of. Some laws are stupid and a blanket bike law that says all bikes must go on the road would mean risking my life.

I have a night light and bell with a basket at front and recently had front/back brakes added and the back pedal brakes removed, so am taking other precautions....am considering a retro style helmet too, like those really old Stack hat/dome style ones perhaps....

(will try to post a pic of my ride tonight, it's undergone many modifications since I last posted a pic on these forums)

Re: Footpath commuting - thoughts?

Posted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 7:50 pm
by damhooligan
in short :

the type of bike is irrelevant, riding on the footpath is illegal*.

'it's not a road bike, it's a dragster' , what a load of rubbish. :evil:
You don't have to have a roadbike to ride on the road, where did you get that silly idea from ???


I'm not aware if the street you mentioned, but beacuse it's a busy street doesn't mean you can't do it.
I ride often on busy roads, and i'm still alive...



(*unless you are 12 years old or younger, or accompany a person of that age...)

Re: Footpath commuting - thoughts?

Posted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 8:22 pm
by Supe
damhooligan wrote:in short :

the type of bike is irrelevant, riding on the footpath is illegal*.

'it's not a road bike, it's a dragster' , what a load of rubbish. :evil:
You don't have to have a roadbike to ride on the road, where did you get that silly idea from ???




You sir are a douche. OP posed an innocent question looking for a civil answer. Give yourself an uppercut. I consider your post flamebait and have given it the response it deserves.

Re: Footpath commuting - thoughts?

Posted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 8:37 pm
by zero
I don't have a moral objection to people riding showboat bicycles slowly on the footpath - however its pretty obvious that if it was legal it would be abused (even more than it is).

You are mathematically more likely to get t-boned at an intersection in the area you are riding as a quasi pedestrian as you are rear-ended as a legitmate vehicle. Even as a very slow legitimate vehicle. All you have to do is forget for a minute that cars can't see you (due to parked cars, buildings etc) and aren't obliged to give way to you, and you are in a high risk situation. Most footpath riders also avoid conventions like left-side footpath, so they wind up in extremely unexpected positions.

The minimum penalty for no-helmet is probably $110 (1 unit), the max is $2200 (20 units). If you get done (which will probably happen eventually), you could easily be done for 2-3 offences at once. Such as no helmet, ride on footpath and ride across pedestrian crossing. Pretty easy to get a set worth $330 as a minimum fine!

As far as style goes. I have an orange hi-vis backpack, an orange hi-vis vest and a helmet and lights. I generally hold my line, and I make the required arm gestures to let motorists know what the hell I'm about to do. Its remarkable how effective the combination is in getting you seen, I do 100+ kms weekly, including the very same roads you are riding on, without issues and without the dreaded "sorry didn't see ya mate". You take them all off when you get to your destination, so its not like you are going to look like a construction worker all day, and realistically, doesn't interfere with the feeling of riding the bike.

Re: Footpath commuting - thoughts?

Posted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 9:20 pm
by wombatK
DragsterGirl83 wrote:Some laws are stupid and a blanket bike law that says all bikes must go on the road would mean risking my life.

What makes you feel it would be a risk to your life ? Have you tried it ?

In simple terms, part of life is learning to take risks. Every day you take risks - every time you eat, you could choke, but it doesn't stop you from eating. Every time you cross a road (as a pedestrian) you take risks to your life, but I bet you still cross the road.

If you have never cycled on the road, you are only guessing what the risks are - and most people exaggerate the risk when they make such guesses.

Most cyclists will tell you that riding on the road is not as dangerous as many people think it is, and many will agree with the points above that riding on the footpath can be more dangerous. To cycle on the road, you have to learn what the risks are, and how to reduce them to an acceptable level.

If you want to learn what the risks are, there's a few approaches you could take. You could jump in at the deep end, and just try riding on the road for part of your commute. This isn't as crazy as it seems. If you are commuting in the peak hours, traffic in your part of Sydney gets very congested and isn't travelling very fast. A modestly fit person on any kind of bike could easily keep up with traffic - and probably would overtake most of it where motorists don't deliberately block the way. As well, there's lots of cyclists commuting in your area - and that makes it even safer as motorists come to expect to look out for cyclists. Finally, if you look up the RTA cycleway maps, you should be able to find a route that avoids the busiest roads (like the worst of King St).

Another approach that should work if you are travelling in peak hours is to find road-riding buddies to show you the way. One way to do this is via a Bike Bus - these are other people whom you can ride with and learn from. I'm pretty sure you'd find one going a good part of your way (ask at the Cheeky Monkey bike shop, or Bicycles NSW).

A third approach is to find somewhere a bit less busy where you can build some confidence in riding on the road. Somewhere like Olympic Park (where there is no car parking on the shoulders) would be a good place to start. Centennial Park might be more convenient - but it's a slightly deeper end of the pool because of risks from cars (doors) and joggers.

It's great to see you enjoying your bicycle commute, and I'm sure you'd find it at least as enjoyable if you rode on the road. Indeed, it can be lots of fun passing stationary motorists and bus passengers.

Cheers

Re: Footpath commuting - thoughts?

Posted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 10:11 pm
by humanbeing
You can do your commute via back streets.
From St Peters, back streets thru Erskineville, cross Erskineville Rd past Macdonaldtown Station, down Wilson St to Chippendale, Sheppard St to Broadway, cross Broadway, Mount St to Wentworth Park to Fish Markets to Pyrmont.
A far more pleasant ride than the main roads and more suited to your style of bike.
Cheers,
Peter

Re: Footpath commuting - thoughts?

Posted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 10:19 pm
by lethoso
If you're not going very far and you're just tootling along, I'd say whatever, go for it. I shortcut along footpaths when it's convenient, just be considerate to pedestrians. I think it's actually legal up here in QLD though. Down south I guess you might get unlucky and cop a fine.

Riding on the road isn't as scary or dangerous as it appears at first, I'd recommend learning your route though - find the dodgy bits where the road narrows or where people are likely to try merge across you into a turning lane and as you approach do a shoulder check to make sure you have the space to, then take the lane.

Re: Footpath commuting - thoughts?

Posted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 11:13 pm
by Mulger bill
G'Day DragsterGirl, welcome outside.

All risks are relative, if something feels dangerous to you it very well may be.

I'll make no calls about the legality or otherwise of your actions, that's your call to make, just remember that there will still be risks, including the plod variety. They will be different is all. The trick is to strike the right balance of all potential risks involved in what you are doing.

One thing I will be adamant on tho': Get a bloody helmet! I hate the rotten ugly sweaty things with a passion but won't be without mine, not because Johnny Law says I have to but because it's smart.

Cheers
Shaun

Re: Footpath commuting - thoughts?

Posted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 4:54 pm
by BikingMarco
DragsterGirl83 wrote:The other day there was a cop booking road cyclists in Pyrmont for running red lights. He was standing on the footpath and I rode by him brazenly on thew path - he looked but said nothing about me being sans helmet or anything....


...that seems to happen quite often here in Sydney. Looks like even the cops have given up on the helmet law.

Re: Footpath commuting - thoughts?

Posted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 5:33 pm
by damhooligan
Supe wrote:
damhooligan wrote:in short :

the type of bike is irrelevant, riding on the footpath is illegal*.

'it's not a road bike, it's a dragster' , what a load of rubbish. :evil:
You don't have to have a roadbike to ride on the road, where did you get that silly idea from ???




You sir are a douche. OP posed an innocent question looking for a civil answer. Give yourself an uppercut. I consider your post flamebait and have given it the response it deserves.


Thanks 'supe' good to know...
Mayby i could have said it more civilised, true, sorry for that , But an Innocent question??
Wake up, the OP knows it is wrong to ride on the footpath, but is hoping to find some valid excuses to use so they can continue with riding on the footpath.
But my point remains ; it's stupid to use 'the type of bike you ride' to avoid abiding the road rules.
And i do not plan of giving advice to stop abiding the rules.
Giving someone advice to break the law is just as bad as breaking the law yourself.

Re: Footpath commuting - thoughts?

Posted: Sun Apr 11, 2010 9:28 am
by ColinOldnCranky
While not in agreement iwth supe, I think you did come across a little righteous and superior. Supe's response of course is itself inflamatory. (Note to Supe - Flaming 101 - don't respond.)

I don't know the area concerned or even if the OP is right about the legality. (I'm froma different state anyway.) But the question is a serious one. And indeed, the very act of reasonably breaking of stupid laws, or maybe in this case to get around inadequacies of infrastructure has proven time and again to get stupid things changed for the best. But these are the exception and should not be done lightly or used as an excuse for impatience or inconvenience. ("But there was no traffic on the other road, so why should I stop at the red light?")

Though I do find the OP's not-wearing-a-helmet bit a little inconsistent with her detailed description of mods done to demonstrate good intent.

Dragster girl - you haven't got much answer to your post so I'll give you my thoughts:

It is really not very useful to you to know what people on a cycling forum think about the ettiquette here. You will get a slanted view from people who are not even stakeholders in it. Apart from you, the walkers and shoppers are the only stakeholders and so it is they you should be asking. In practice though, that means you make the assessment from mtheir responses/comments/aggro, hopefully honestly, and leave us all out of it.

But what if you concluded that those stakeholders think your actions are intolerable? Would you then stop riding that section and find an alternate route? Would you ride on the roads and take risks? Would you "un-retro" and replace the bars and then take a reduced risk? Would you stop riding all together? If you can't answer yes to at least one of those questions (and be willing to don the helmet) then really there is no point to posting except to get that warm fuzzy feeling if others agree with you breaking a law or a social contract of some kind.

Re: Footpath commuting - thoughts?

Posted: Mon Apr 12, 2010 12:49 pm
by BriBri
Dragster girl, something else you need to consider about riding on the footpath is that you will be held responsible should something untoward happen. Because it is illegal for you to ride your bike there you'll be on the paying end of things.

If someone backs out of their driveway and you run into their car you will be at fault and you'll have to pay if you damage their car.

If grandma steps out of her front gate without looking and you run into her it will be your fault and you may end up having to pay for her rehab.

As has already been pointed out riding on the road is about managing risks, riding on a footpath comes with it's own set of risks and it's own set of consequences. Make sure you consider both carefully before deciding where to ride.

Re: Footpath commuting - thoughts?

Posted: Mon Apr 12, 2010 4:54 pm
by alexander
yeah have to agree with everyone here, sure you might think it's safer on the path, but it has it's own risks.

first and foremost, helmet, get one. There's plenty of skate and dragster type helmets out there, check out x-rated helmets, they've got something different.

http://www.xratedhelmets.com.au/Freesty ... ts/Auctung

Re: Footpath commuting - thoughts?

Posted: Mon Apr 12, 2010 5:59 pm
by casual_cyclist
humanbeing wrote:You can do your commute via back streets.
From St Peters, back streets thru Erskineville, cross Erskineville Rd past Macdonaldtown Station, down Wilson St to Chippendale, Sheppard St to Broadway, cross Broadway, Mount St to Wentworth Park to Fish Markets to Pyrmont.
A far more pleasant ride than the main roads and more suited to your style of bike.
Cheers,
Peter

I was thinking the same thing. It is faster for me to commute on main roads but I usually ride the backstreets because there is basically no traffic so it is quieter, more enjoyable and doesn't add too much time.

Re: Footpath commuting - thoughts?

Posted: Mon Apr 12, 2010 6:44 pm
by damhooligan
ColinOldnCranky wrote:While not in agreement iwth supe, I think you did come across a little righteous and superior. Supe's response of course is itself inflamatory. (Note to Supe - Flaming 101 - don't respond.).


It was not my intention to come across that way.
I am by no means a righteous or superior person.

ColinOldnCranky wrote:Dragster girl - you haven't got much answer to your post so I'll give you my thoughts:

It is really not very useful to you to know what people on a cycling forum think about the ettiquette here. You will get a slanted view from people who are not even stakeholders in it. Apart from you, the walkers and shoppers are the only stakeholders and so it is they you should be asking. In practice though, that means you make the assessment from mtheir responses/comments/aggro, hopefully honestly, and leave us all out of it.

But what if you concluded that those stakeholders think your actions are intolerable? Would you then stop riding that section and find an alternate route? Would you ride on the roads and take risks? Would you "un-retro" and replace the bars and then take a reduced risk? Would you stop riding all together? If you can't answer yes to at least one of those questions (and be willing to don the helmet) then really there is no point to posting except to get that warm fuzzy feeling if others agree with you breaking a law or a social contract of some kind.


I must say , your response is much better then mine, and i fully agree.

Re: Footpath commuting - thoughts?

Posted: Mon Apr 12, 2010 8:51 pm
by j-ho
I feel that dragstergirl is a troll.

Re: Footpath commuting - thoughts?

Posted: Mon Apr 12, 2010 11:13 pm
by casual_cyclist
j-ho wrote:I feel that dragstergirl is a troll.

It's prolly pine

I miss pine :cry:

Re: Footpath commuting - thoughts?

Posted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 12:50 am
by Mulger bill
casual_cyclist wrote:
j-ho wrote:I feel that dragstergirl is a troll.

It's prolly pine

I miss pine :cry:


Me too, but it isn't Pine unless she's using a proxy.

Shaun

Re: Footpath commuting - thoughts?

Posted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 2:39 pm
by MiG
Supe wrote:You sir are a douche. OP posed an innocent question looking for a civil answer. Give yourself an uppercut. I consider your post flamebait and have given it the response it deserves.

Ha! It's funny how much politeness and chivalry you get when a girl posts on a male dominated forum. Seen it so many times.

Anyway, riding on the footpath at normal speed is dumb for everyone involved. Don't know about NSW but in Vic only children under 12 are allowed on to ride on the footpath and for good reason. Even at snail's pace you are going three times faster than the pedestrians that are darting left and right. You don't belong and you've been rightfully told off, regardless of what sort of bike it is. On suburban streets you'll be hitting cars coming out of driveways and side streets.

They are called road bikes because they are limited to road use, not because they've got some magic road sharing qualities that other bikes don't.

The helmet thing, meh, that's your problem. I've only hit my helmet once so the frequency of usefulness is very low, but the potential consequences are very serious. Chicks dig scars, but nobody likes brain damage and it affects you for ever.

Re: Footpath commuting - thoughts?

Posted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 3:08 pm
by Zynster
Riding on the footpath is legal in Queensland. I haven't seen or heard of any issues arising from this. Most people still ride on the road cause it's smoother and faster. You need to ride pretty slowly on the footpath so as to avoid pedestrians, but it's definitely safer. It seems inconsistent to let bikes mix with cars but not pedestrians. How many pedestrians die from being hit by a bike?

Re: Footpath commuting - thoughts?

Posted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 9:15 pm
by zero
Zynster wrote:Riding on the footpath is legal in Queensland. I haven't seen or heard of any issues arising from this. Most people still ride on the road cause it's smoother and faster. You need to ride pretty slowly on the footpath so as to avoid pedestrians, but it's definitely safer. It seems inconsistent to let bikes mix with cars but not pedestrians. How many pedestrians die from being hit by a bike?


1 every few years. Not impossible by any stretch.

The footpath itself is safer when its just footpath, but the intersections and driveways are far more likely to cause an accident than being on the same road - but on the road. In some countries, bicycles on share paths have shown 10x the accident rate compared to the bicycles on the same road alongside them.

You are often riding effectively in an alleyway between buildings and parked cars, which requires a motorist turns their head a full 90 degrees to see you, and your are often blocked from view until you are 1-2m away from the point where an accident might occur. You are persistently contending with cars for the spot that their braking finishes at. Towards the end of most braking moves, cars become more or less committed to the final stopping point, and can do little/nothing to change. Especially if they intended a bumper-over position to check for -road- traffic.

Not sure about QLD, but in NSW, pretty much any bicycle crossing any road coming off any footpath - regardless of pedestrian markings or lights, is legally a vehicle entering roadway, and must give way to all vehicles on the roadway. Pedestrians get a much more powerful basic right of "turning vehicles must give way to pedestrians".

Oddly enough the legislation as far as I can see, doesn't specifically require a vehicle to give way to bicycles crossing roads under bicycle lights either.

Re: Footpath commuting - thoughts?

Posted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 5:33 am
by Pax
Zynster wrote: You need to ride pretty slowly on the footpath so as to avoid pedestrians, but it's definitely safer.


Not so sure, I've had 3 crashes in the last gazillion kilometres. 2 of them were on footpaths!! (and yet only about .1% of the gazillion k was done on footpaths)

Re: Footpath commuting - thoughts?

Posted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 12:45 pm
by martinjs
Just a point, but using the argument "getting killed" alone is a bit lame. Injury's cause loss of wages, pain and psychological issues as well. Any action we take that might unnecessarily put others at risk should be minimised.

Martin

Re: Footpath commuting - thoughts?

Posted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 1:52 pm
by Zynster
While you are legally allowed to ride on the footpath in QLD, you do have to get off and push the bike across pedestrian crossings, in which case you are a pedestrian for legal purposes. When entering the road as a rider, you have to give way, just like any vehicle.

By safer, I meant safer for the rider (with noted exceptions such as Pax). Also, riding on a footpath is very different to riding on a "shared" path. On a footpath bikes give way to pedestrians. The pace is slow. On a shared path the pace is often way too fast, and there is a lot of intolerance toward pedestrians. In fact it's very similar to driver's intolerance of riders. Not surprised there are more accidents there.

Re: Footpath commuting - thoughts?

Posted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 3:27 pm
by Strawburger
DragsterGirl83 wrote:The other day there was a cop booking road cyclists in Pyrmont for running red lights.


The gentleman concerned was attempting to pull over cyclists for running green lights too (the cyclist specific green lights)! That "sting" really wasn't trying. They had one guy beeping their horn as soon as the lights flicked to flashing red, ignoring all other lawbreakers - like pedestrians walking across at the same time as the cyclists, plus all the cars accellerating through the amber/red lights. I'm not suprised they didn't pull you up for not wearing a helmet.