pedestrians filling path

Not Sharing

Two weeks on since contacting the Victorian Police for clarification on bicycle specific speed signs (Speed Limit Limbo) they have yet to provide comment so far only referring to their generic list of cycling issues for shared paths.

Police uniform, bicycle and Highway patrol units conduct regular patrols of common bicycle routes, including the Yarra Promenade.

Anyone found to be riding dangerously will be stopped and penalised where appropriate. There are a number of traffic infringements which apply to cyclists, including fail [sic] to keep left and give way to pedestrians, fail [sic] to keep left of ongoing bicycles riding on a footpath designed for pedestrians, fail [sic] to obey traffic lights, ride more than two abreast and fail [sic] to wear a securely fitted approved bicycle helmet.

Police also have the power to charge cyclists for serious offences, such as conduct endangering a person.

In isolation of the real world these rules are all very sensible however users of shared paths in Melbourne regularly come across the following.

yarraFill

While bicycle riders are compelled to keep to the left of the path, no such requirement is placed on pedestrians. Adding in a combination of tiny shared path signs that are easily missed and otherwise ignorant users who think all such areas are footpaths (which cyclists are not to use) the pedestrians obstructing the path can get extremely aggressive even when presented with cyclists travelling at walking pace. Lines of pedestrians can freely filter through each other when passing and brief contact or brushing past has no consequence for them. However cyclists (and motorcyclists) are unique in that their primary controls are unprotected with a brush or bump against the handlebars able to send them out of control.

Sharing the space and waiting for pedestrian traffic ahead to clear should not be a point of contention but while patiently following at a distance behind slower groups further pedestrians will happily pass and fill any space between. Passing a pedestrian from behind is equally challenging when they can, at any moment, move (or just stop) quickly in any direction without looking, unlike bikes and cars which have much more predictable motion. Bells prove ineffective with the majority of shared path users completely ignoring them, while the minority who do pay attention seem roughly evenly split between those who will be courteous and those who will get aggressive.

Even approaching groups of pedestrians from the front they will rarely yield any space for oncoming path users, and it can be quite amazing to see how people will spread out to fill any available space with some particularly inattentive examples being single pedestrians walking continuously along the middle of 2.5m wide ramps ensuring insufficient space for cyclists to pass on either side. All that remains is a vague road rule:

236 Pedestrians not to cause a traffic hazard or obstruction
….
(2) A pedestrian must not unreasonably obstruct the path of any driver or another pedestrian.
Offence provision.
….

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