Cyclists urged to give space to walkers


The call has gone out for mutual tolerance and understanding on the city’s increasingly busy cycleway-walkways to avoid clashes between cyclists and walkers.

Concerns over cyclist behaviour were raised with The Star by regular users of the West Harbour shared path after pedestrians had encounters with speeding pelotons of riders.

The walkers, who wished to remain anonymous, told the paper that, during a recent Sunday morning walk, they felt “shaken” and intimidated by packs of riders bellowing at them to step aside and passing “at pace” while using “vastly more than half the path”.

West Harbour Community Board chairman Steve Walker said such incidents were “a reminder to everyone that it is a shared path”.

He had also received other reports from walkers who had been startled and shaken by speeding cyclists.

Cycle advocacy group Spokes Dunedin chairman Jon Dean said incidents where cyclists upset walkers were “unfortunate”, if a little unusual. He pledged to “get the word out” among cyclists to share the pathways responsibly.

Mr Walker said the West Harbour path was primarily used by people on foot, including runners and walkers, parents with pushchairs, young children, people on mobility scooters, wheelchair users and others.

“With so many people using the walkway, it is incumbent on everyone to be aware of others, and to be kind and friendly out there,” he said.

“It is a wonderful community asset, and we want everyone to be able to use it and enjoy it.”

Mr Walker, himself a cyclist, urged riders to fit their bikes with bells and ring them from about 20 to 30 metres away to give walkers plenty of warning of their approach.

Otago Peninsula Community Board chairman Paul Pope, who describes himself as “a fair weather cyclist”, said he had a bell on his bike.

“I have found that people respond very positively to a bell – they are pleased and friendly,” he said.

“It is all about tolerance and sharing the space.”

Mr Pope also urged people who liked to listen to music on headphones when walking or running to be aware of their surroundings.

Mr Dean said some of the city’s cycleway-walkways needed to be wider than the planned average of three metres, especially as they grew more popular.

Dunedin City Council transportation safety team leader Hjarne Poulsen said it would be costly to widen the pathways, but the council was considering installing some signs.