The waterfront promenade is a political battleground

For many people waterfront promenades are places to drive to, get out, go for walks (perhaps with their dogs on retractable leads), before returning to their cars to drive home. For a few of us though, waterfront promenades provide a rare opportunity in cities where cars hog the road, to use bikes for transport.

To my mind there are hundreds of places to walk around in big circles with your dog on a lead—like, maybe a park—but there are very few easements of any significant length that can be repurposed as bike transport corridors. We have it all back-to-front as designers of waterfront pathways when we provide better protection and treatment for pedestrians, who generate car trips and dog shit, than we give to cyclists, whose presence on the waterfront equates to less driving elsewhere in the city. See the big picture.

If dawdlers and their dogs feel uncomfortable having cyclists whiz past their ears, the answer might not be a “cyclists dismount” sign. It may be

1. provide a wide enough shared space that any cyclist can steer their way past those retractable dog leads


2. segregate bikes and pedestrians, ensuring the bike route is the nearest to the water and the pedestrians cop all the car fumes (don’t encourage them)


3. get rid of the car park.


  1. Hi Steven, the trouble with agreeing with about 99% of what you write is that the other 1% seems so starkly offensive.
    One of the unintended consequences of the increase in popularity of bike riding is that shared paths are now almost exclusively “controlled” by riders, at the expense of pedestrians (and their dogs, prams, wayward children, old parents, etc, etc).
    I use the word controlled deliberately as many men (it’s almost always men) lack the self-control not to buzz less experienced riders and pedestrians. They are also the ones who yell “Get Fucked” to anyone who does challenge their selfish behaviour.
    You and I both are both from this demographic; I hope you can resist being the cunt on shared paths and wish you all the very best avoiding the cunts with four or more wheels on the roads.

    • Steven says:

      You said that so well, yet so poorly. First, let me assure you, I’m not the cunt who bothers you, but the nice guy who rings his bell, slows down, and gladly stops, knowing the pedestrian in my path could well be deaf, blind, developmentally delayed, new to Australia, etc..
      To the chase: we are talking at crossed purposes. You are talking about behaviour in shared zones. I’m talking about design policy, specifically design policy as it effects the design of designated pedestrian paths running parallel to designated bike paths. Where that kind of segregation is called for, who gets the water side, and who gets the crap side? Currently bikes get the crumbs, because walking and driving are mainstream activities. But where mainstream society is causing obesity and global warming, it needs to be challenged.
      Leaving a fissure in my text for readers to find something starkly offensive, is a literary device (borrowed from New Journalism), to get myself noticed.

  2. Kerry says:

    For pedestrians who may a feel a little shaken by a cyclist whizzing past them on a shared path, pause for a moment to consider how a cyclist feels when a vehicle whizzes past them in close proximity. I think it is fair to say, that whilst a pedestrian might be hurt if a cyclist hits them, they are very very unlikely to be killed. I think it is time to stop discriminating against cyclists and give them the infrastructure they require to safely commute/traverse across towns/cities. We need to ensure a variety of safe transport options for ALL people to choose from – cars, public transport, walking AND cycling. People choose cycling for a variety of reasons: fitness, environmental or financial. Why are these people consistently discriminated against and given the worst conditions in which to transport themselves?

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