Teenagers given the green light to ride on footpaths

A change in road rules by the NSW Government means teenagers are now legally able to ride bicycles on footpaths. Previously, children aged 12 and under were permitted to ride on the footpaths; however, the recent changes in legislation have increased this to children under 16.

Suzanne Wicks, Department Head of Kids Health at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, welcomed the move and said it was a positive step toward reducing the hazards of on-road cycling.

“It enables children and young people to be physically active by riding bicycles in a less hazardous environment than on the road until they are better able to self-manage in traffic,” she said. “Pre-adolescence and adolescence is a period of significant brain development impacting on children’s ability to self-regulate behaviour, control impulses, plan actions, weigh consequences and is often characterised by increased risk taking behaviours.

“Under the previous road rule, it was children and young people in this age group who were legally required to be on the road, despite not being developmentally or cognitively ready to self-manage in traffic.” Mrs Wicks said.

Between 2007 and 2017 500 children were admitted to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick due to bike related injuries. One third of these cases were related to incidents between a child riding a bike and a car.

Each year, Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network treats approximately 14 children aged over 12 years of age after these types of incidents. It is anticipated that the change will reduce the number of cyclist versus car injuries to children in this age group.