Bike rider behaviour, St Leonard's Park Shared Path, North Sydney

Item in next council meeting agenda

Mayoral Minute (MM02):

St Leonards Park Share User Path - Incident with Pedestrian and Cyclist
On Tuesday 26 February 2013 Councillors and staff inspected St Leonards Park as part of the Councillor Briefing regarding the Share User Path project. The purpose of the visit was to look at the park’s historical pathways and in particular the path that stands on the corner of Miller and Ridge Street and meanders in a northerly direction to Falcon Street. In recent times this park has become a short- cut for commuter cyclists. In fact what has evolved is a “Cycle Rat Run” through one of our major parks to the detriment of the majority of our park users.
During the inspection we observed many commuter cyclists travelling at high speed dodging pedestrians, children and dogs. Councillors and staff then witnessed an extremely disturbing incident. A local resident out walking his dogs was assaulted, knocked to the ground and injured by an irate cyclist who was loudly objecting about the pedestrian being in his way.
This incident indicates that shared paths are a serious safety matter that must be managed.

It is therefore recommended:
1. THAT a report identifying issues for shared cycle/pedestrian paths across the North Sydney local government area be prepared as a matter of urgency.
2. THAT the report be used to inform the North Sydney Bike Strategy which is currently being reviewed.
3. THAT the proposal to widen the existing shared pathway in St Leonards Park be deferred until the Council reviews its position on the provision of shared cycle/pedestrian pathways.
4. THAT Council Rangers patrol St Leonards Park during peak periods for the next two weeks.

Report of Landscape Architect (OSES02):

The site meeting was held on 26 February at 6pm. This report provides information on the site meeting and proposes two alternative recommendations in regards to the project for Council’s consideration.

The site meeting was attended by the Mayor, Cr Jilly Gibson, Cr Michel Reymond, Cr Veronique Marchandeau, Cr Virginia Bevan, Cr MaryAnn Beregi as well as Council’s Director Open Space and Environmental Services, Director Engineering and Property Services, Traffic Planning Manager, Landscape Architect and Student Landscape Architect.

Attendees visited the site and walked over a portion of the route of the proposed path upgrade works, from the south-west corner (corner Ridge and Miller streets) to approximately adjacent to Bon Andrews Oval. The nature and extent of the proposed work was outlined by Council Officers. 

During the site visit a number of cyclists were seen to be using the path. There were also a large number of pedestrians, including walkers, joggers, people walking their dogs etc. Of the 15 or so cyclists seen using the path during the 40 minutes spent onsite, a range of behaviour was observed, ranging from slow cycling with use of bell and carefully manoeuvring around pedestrians, to an aggressive incident involving physical violence between a cyclist and a pedestrian. A number of cyclists were seen to be moving along the path at a relatively fast pace. Two cyclists rode through the meeting group at speed without use of a warning bell or slowing down, appearing to expect the pedestrians to move off the path to allow their passage.

During the site meeting one cyclist stopped to talk to the group and advised that he used the path as part of a commuter route between his work in the city and his home at Manly. Another person walking his dog also stopped to talk to the group and advised that he frequently observed speeding cyclists and alleged that sometimes the cyclists would kick out at the dogs as they rode past.

Discussion at the meeting centred on a number of matters including how cyclists currently used the park, the most frequented route through the park, the nature of measures proposed to ensure cyclists used the upgraded path responsibly, and the possibility of creating a separate cycleway to avoid need for a shared path. A suggestion was made that cyclists should be made to cycle around the park via Falcon, Miller and Ridge Streets.

In regards to the above, whilst cyclists currently use a number of paths throughout the park, the path proposed for the upgrading is the most popular route. The proposed path upgrade includes pavement treatment in the form of tessellated paving ‘rumble strips’ at key locations to warn cyclists of impending intersections and to encourage speed reduction. In addition a promotional/educational campaign is proposed to coincide with the completion of the path works and warning signage is to be installed.

Also in regards to the above, due to the nature of site constraints, including the location of significant trees and arrangement of the various open space areas within the park it is not feasible to create a completely separate path. While the more experienced riders may feel comfortable using the surrounding streets, Falcon and Miller Streets in particular carry high volumes of traffic and less experienced cyclists including young children, recreational cyclists and the elderly were unlikely to use these on-road routes from fear of conflict with vehicles.

It was clear from the site meeting that whilst some cyclists were courteous and considerate of their fellow park users, some level of antagonism existed between pedestrians and cyclists within the park.

It was also evident that the design and role of ‘shared user paths’ in general warrants further explanation/discussion. The concept of shared user paths and designation of existing routes within North Sydney is outlined in the North Sydney Bike Strategy 2009. Currently, Council’s Engineering and Property Services Division is undertaking a review of the existing strategy. Councillors may wish to give consideration to postponing the proposed works pending the outcome of the strategy review. 

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And why do they have footpaths either side?
Also, no R2-10s on their R4-4s. And they should repeat the R4-4s along the way, as the second section just does not look like a shared zone.

Guide says traffic slowing devices should not normally be needed but if they are should be every 30 m or so.

Coud ask RMS to allow contraflow cycling. not sure if that would be a useful thing, as not a local. I just tend to pass through, mainly on Miller St.

Nearby Spring St appears to be a 10 K zone too, given signs at Little Spring St. But no signs evident elsewhere. Corse Google is a few years old.

and drivers must give way  to any pedestrian in the carpark aswell 

The council has commissioned a Masterplan for St Leonards Park.

You can provide input via this survey:

Interesting how the authors seem to think that bicycles are only used for commuting and recreation...

Maybe Dunc and NRMA will put in a submission that they are also used to slow down the traffic by milliseconds, as well as being an increasing saviour for the Liarbrel state government's bottom line!

 I know the next major tasks after commuting are shopping and general personal transportation, but they are probably just mentally intermixing all tasks that are not recreational cycling under that banner.

if for example I lived nearish the park (ie on the flat area at the top of the hill), I'd be inclined to do my grocery shopping at either St Leonards or Neutral bay, so that the loaded return journey was relatively flat, which would probably align reasonably well with desired routes for commuting riders anyway, since jobs and commercial/retail areas are usually the same place, so its not a terrible misconception, as long as they don't have the poor plan that all commuting riders are riding to the CBD (which is what the state government should be providing infrastructure for).

Doesn't take long to do the survey. You can leave out some irrelevant sections if you want to just concentrate on cycling. I said in a comment section that there is another group of cyclists and maybe they should look at where the non commuting, non recreational group of cyclists might wish to go and add links for them, recognising there would be some overlap with commuting routes. As you say, there is a need for a good east west path on the Neutral Bay/Crows Nest/St Leonard axis- not much there now is there?

Might also be a case for a children's recreational circuit in the park, as not many other flat areas in North Sydney.

Done, as recommended ta.

Yes, I also did the survey. It's quick and easy. 


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