In January 2013 Fremantle Ports awarded a $13m contract to construction firm, Brierty Ltd to build roads and services on reclaimed land at Rous Head, Fremantle. Part of this contract was the building of a cycle and pedestrian path along the sea wall. Well that path is now in place and this is a short video of the riding experience from Port Beach to North Mole along the Rous Head Sea Wall Bike Path and my thoughts on the path and the conflicts it creates.
Rous Head Sea Wall Bike Path – Conflicts or Fun Riding?
Having ridden the Rous Head Seal Wall bike path a few times to get a feel for it I have mixed views about it. On the one hand I am pleased we have bicycle infrastructure on the North Mole to encourage cycling and walking out to the North Mole. With the heavy vehicle traffic movements, particularly during the week this is very much-needed infrastructure.
However there are downsides to the Rous Head Sea Wall bike path which do impact on the amenity of using it and potentially can put users at risk, most worrying being children. The first is that I am finding it is being used often (particularly outside of work hours) as a parking area for fishers. People parking on the path itself forces the legitimate users to either take to the dirt where they can or worse on to the road and into the traffic. Not something that I would like to see young children being forced to do. I understand that the City of Fremantle may be responsible for policing this aspect and I will be drawing it to their attention.
The other negative relates to the first and that is the decision by the Fremantle Ports to install at the southern end of the path (see around the 2.27 mark in the video) four car parking bays cutting across the bike path. I am really struggling to understand the logic of this decision and as to why the Fremantle Ports Chief Executive Officer, Chris Leatt-Hayter signed off on this.
This decision not only impacts negatively on the overall user experience of the Rous Head Seal Wall bike path; after all nothing beats bouncing into and out of a series of channels on a bike path (would we do this to a road?), but it creates a potentially dangerous situation as it puts vehicles and bicycle riders in conflict.
Yep I really want children put right into the path of vehicles! Furthermore if a vehicle is parked in one of these bays, where do the bicycle riders go? They have to try to negotiate around the vehicles, which can possibly mean having to ride on the road. So is there a safe means of exiting and re-entering the path at these four conflict points on the Rous Head Seal Wall bike path? No there is not; you have to jump over the kerb on to the road.
According to the Fremantle Ports 2013 Annual Report we (the taxpayers) paid Mr Leatt-Hayter $477,000 in the last financial year. For that sort of salary I expect far more competent decision-making and that the Fremantle Ports creates infrastructure which is safe for users. After all we are told on the Fremantle Ports website that ..
Fremantle Ports has been triple-certified to international standards of Safety, Environment and Quality and undergoes regular audits to ensure those standards are maintained.
Maybe time for an audit or a revisit of the audit standards if this development is considered to of an international safety standard.
I am going to follow-up my concerns with the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Troy Buswell. If anything comes of it I will update the blog.
Your Thoughts on the Rous Head Sea Wall Bike Path
Have you taken a ride on the Rous Head Sea Wall bike path? Just watched the video? Please do share your experiences and thoughts on the bike path. Have I been to harsh on Fremantle Ports and their CEO Chris Leatt-Hayter? Is okay to build off-road cycling and pedestrian infrastructure which creates conflict with vulnerable users? Please let us know your thoughts via the comments box below.