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City of Stirling officer responds to my posting on the slowing down of cyclists

On September 23, 2009 I posted a blog posting on the decision of the City of Stirling to install gates to slow down cyclists on a section of the shared path (or footpath according to the City of Stirling) between the Trigg Beach Clarko Reserve and Surf Life Saving Club.  At the same time I contacted the City of Stirling via their contact form for a copy of the “new bike plan” referred to in the article.

As I hadn’t received a response to my request on October 15, 2009 I emailed stirling@stirling.wa.gov.au and carbon copied the two councillors in my ward, Councillor Re and Councillor Proud. My thanks to the Councillor’s for their prompt response and follow-up. In particular my thanks to Councillor Proud who actually apologised for the lack of response and sought a follow-up from Council officers. I didn’t get the courtesy of a personal response from Councillor Re, rather she just carbon copied me in on the forwarding of my email to another Council Officer.  I have to say that Councillor Re’s lack of manners has not impressed me and I really see no point in contacting her again.

On October 16, 2009, in response to my request for the City of Stirling’s bike plan I received the following reply from Mr Jon Offer, Special Projects & Support Engineer at the City of Stirling.  I am reproducing Mr Offer’s email in full so you can establish your own views on the matter.

Dear Mr Priest,

I am responding to your email below with apologies that I was not in receipt of your original request.  By way of an explanation, it may be that your previous email was assigned to the Citys’ Travelsmart officer who was on extended leave at that time.

I am currently revising the Citys’ Bike Plan which was previously published in 2003 and has become due for review.  This new document is in the process of being drafted and the initial sections (1 to 4) are now completed (apart from sections 4.4 and 4.5 which should be concluded soon).  This document is a major review of Cycling within the City and poses some significant questions which will form the basis of discussions with BikeWest and MRWA prior to completing Sections 5 and 6.

To date the City has completed a thorough audit of the first zone (by bicycle) and is producing risk assessment and treatment plans resulting from that survey.  I am sure that you will appreciate that this emerging document (whilst informing future works) will remain confidential until such time as the consultations with state government representatives have been concluded and the final draft has been reported to and endorsed by Council.  I would hope to conclude external stakeholder consultations during November and would imagine that completion of the document and due process may have the new Bike Plan for release to the public in March 2010.

I am also aware of several of your postings on the WA section of Australian Cycling Forums (under Aushiker) and of your blog postings on your Aushiker website.  I will be happy to debate the terminology of dual use and/or Shared Paths and whether this type of path is a footpath.  Under the definitions of both, in the RTC 2000, you will see that a shared path is also a footpath and that, further within the regulations, cyclists need to be  aware that they are on a footpath and must give way to pedestrians at all times.

The ‘Stirling Gate’ that will be installed at Trigg is underway and should be completed within a week.  This does allow for an unimpeded 900mm gap and should be far less restrictive that any other form of gate or chicane and has been field tested.  It is intended to provide compliance and enforcement of two elements:  Firstly, the legal requirement for single file and secondly slowing down (on entry to an area of major conflict already covered by a 10kph speed limit in the Citys Local Laws).

Finally, when it comes to your public comment:

It will be interesting to compare the approach taken by the City of Stirling here against the works currently being undertaken by the City of Joondalup just to the north on the same coastal strip.  I suspect we will see quite a contrast in the maturity and approaches of the Council’s to dual use facilities with my vote going hands down to the City of Joondalup

I would advise that the Recreational Shared Path alongside West Coast Drive, within the City, is constructed to a 4.0m standard (and a 3.9m minimum road width kerb to kerb) whereas the NEW section within Joondalup is constructed to a 3.0m standard and constrains road width to as little as 3.4m which is already becoming the subject of discussion within the Bike Forums.  I am only to happy to discuss these matter before you publish.

I am quite happy to post a notification on the ACF forums to advise you, and other cyclists, when the Bike Plan has been endorsed by Council.  Meanwhile, please feel free to call me on the numbers below.

Regards,

Jon Offer
Special Projects & Support Engineer
Engineering Design – Urban Design

My brief comments follow:

(1) First and foremost I am a residence of the City of Stirling and hence my request for a copy of the City’s Bike Plan was quite a legitimate one. In light of this I am really do not understand why Mr Offer seems to be the of the view that I and I can only assume all residents of the City have to monitor the Australian Cycling Forums (ACF) for notification of the publication of the City of Stirling’s Bike Plan.

I have asked Councillor Proud to please explain why my request for a copy of the City’s bike plan cannot be noted and met when the plan is released.   Also I have asked Councillor Proud to please explain why the City of Stirling cannot notify its residences via its own publications and website.

On a more personal note, I have found it quite disquieting that Mr Offer seems to be monitoring the Australian Cycling Forums and my comments or rather comments made by others which he seems to attribute to me without properly disclosing his presence, well at least to my knowledge. I wonder if this is appropriate behaviour for a Council Officer.

(2) My email was a request for a copy of the Bike Plan referred to in the September issue of the Stirling Scene. A bike plan which is apparently not completed. If it is not completed why imply otherwise?

(3) I have noted the lack of reference to public consultation in Jon Offer’s email. Does this mean the City of Stirling does not consider its residents

have anything of value to contribute to the City’s Bike Plan? I hope not and I hope the Council will be releasing a draft plan for appropriate consultation. I will follow this up with Councillor Proud.

(4) Jon Offer refers to a City by-law restricting the speed of cyclists to 10 km/h.  I have searched the City of Stirling website without luck for any reference to such speed limits and what by-laws I could find, none seemed relevant to this topic.  As an academic I am never impressed by these sorts of claims without proper reference to the relevant source document, hence I will be asking Councillor Proud to direct me to the relevant by-law if such a by-law actually exists.

(5) With respect to my comment on footpaths and dual use paths (I incorrectly referred to it as a dual use path, the correct term is shared path), the Road Traffic Code 2000 as amended (June 30, 2008) is quite clear in respect to cycling on footpaths.  Cyclists over 12 years of age can only ride on footpaths if they are accompanying a child under 12 years old. So if the path along coast is a footpath it is illegal to ride on it unless accompanying a child.  The use of the correct term by the City of Stirling would be helpful as previously noted.

For clarity the relevant sections of the Road Traffic Code 2000  are quoted below:

216. Shared paths and separated footpaths

(1) The rider of a bicycle who is 12 years of age or older shall not ride on a footpath, that is not a shared path or a separated
footpath.

Modified penalty: 1 PU

The Code (sub-section 3) defines a shared path as

shared path means an area open to the public (except a separated footpath) that is designated for, or has as one of its
main uses, use by both the riders of bicycles and pedestrians, and includes a length of path beginning at a “shared path” sign
or “shared path” road marking and ending at the nearest of the following:
(a) an “end shared path” sign or “end shared path” road
marking;
(b) a “no bicycles” sign, or a “no bicycles” road marking;
(c) a “bicycle path” sign;
(d) a carriageway;
(e) the end of the path;

and defines a footpath as:

footpath means an area that is open to the public that is designated for, or has as one of its main uses, use by pedestrians;

As path referred to in the Stirling Scene is by all accounts a shared path as I understand, therefore this is the term the City of Stirling should have used in my view and hence my previously published criticisms stand.

2 Responses to City of Stirling officer responds to my posting on the slowing down of cyclists

  1. Gibiolley June 12, 2011 at 5:46 AM #

    just looked through the thread. Amazing work.

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