Recently a Christchurch cyclist told me this story. A workmate of hers approached her, soon after he had started. “Do you remember”, he asked, “shouting ‘Does your mother not let you ride on the road?’ at someone riding on the footpath on Antigua Street about three or four months ago?” My friend thought, and replied, “No, but that does sound like something I’d say”. “Well, that was me”, the new workmate said.
Other than the fact we all say things we may regret in the cold light of day, or even five minutes later, since the earthquake it seems very normal to ride on the footpath in Christchurch. Officially sanctioned, even. In Dunedin, I’ve known friends get ticketed for it. Here, some parts of the official cycle routes encourage you to zip up a driveway, and negotiate a pavement corner or two to get to the pedestrian/cycle crossing. Multi-lane through ways with heavy traffic flows, pavements empty of pedestrians beg to be ridden on. Combined with many legitimate shared paths and a general sense of ‘whatever it takes to get you moving’ laissez faire post-quake, the footpaths are well utilised.
My question is, will that last? A few public cyclist/pedestrian crashes (or run-ins between a bike and labradoodle) will raise the issue of pedestrian – cyclist safety.
So, should we eschew pavement riding, or have we come to realise that footpaths, shared sensibly, are the pragmatic place to ride on occasion?