Residents call for greater safety as cyclists flout the law on footpaths

Residents call for greater safety as cyclists flout the law on footpaths
Brendan Rees

Carlton residents have raised the alarm over an increasing number of cyclists using footpaths which has resulted in multiple hit-run incidents, including an elderly man being taken to hospital.

Residents say they want authorities to act as bike and scooter riders don’t “respect any rules or citizens”.

It comes after resident Mark Cleary told of the terrifying moment he was knocked over by a speeding food delivery cyclist, which left him with a fractured femur and 12 days in hospital.

The 77-year-old said he was arriving home with his partner near Elgin St at around 10pm during October last year when the incident occurred – with the cyclist making no attempt to stop and help him.

“I suddenly heard a noise, whirring,” Mr Cleary recalled. “He was going real fast. I had one second to do something, I couldn’t do anything.”

“I spun around and landed on the footpath and kept spinning. I landed my elbow and my left hip.”

“I was in shock.”

Mr Cleary said he got back on his feet thanks to the aid of two passers-by – at which time he felt a “bit sore” but after seeing his doctor the next day, he discovered he had more serious injuries.

He said his medical bill came to $40,000 but luckily it was covered by his health insurance.

He said he was “traumatised” and “too frightened to go out” after the incident, but when he finally found the courage to go out in public again, he was verbally abused by a cyclist using the footpath after he asked the rider to slow down.

But moments later, in a separate incident, he was “king hit” from behind in a random attack as he used the pedestrian crossing, causing his face to land on the road. He was again taken to hospital for two weeks where he underwent a hip replacement.

Mr Cleary said he had reported the latest incident to police and was now making a slow recovery while he gets around on a crutch.

Another resident, Gulden Topal, also owner of the I Love Istanbul restaurant in Carlton, said she was walking along Queensberry St in December when she was hit by a cyclist.

Fortunately, the 72-year-old didn’t sustain any injuries except for pain in her right arm after she was knocked against a wall, but the cyclist left the scene “straight away” without saying anything.

Resident Tim Swain, who has also been knocked down twice by careless cyclists, said he was outraged that there was no accountability for offending riders with the issue only “getting worse”.

“It’s incredibly frustrating because whatever corner I go to I look around … between bikes and scooters and delivery boys you’ve got no idea what’s coming,” he said.


The City of Melbourne is spending a fortune to put in bike lanes and most of them don’t use them. They still use the footpath because they think it’s they’ve got a God-given right to do that.


“It does create a sense of apprehension about walking anywhere, which is not how it’s supposed to be.”

Mr Swain said he had seen cyclists riding on footpaths while using a mobile phone, not wearing a helmet, or activating their lights.

“It’s ridiculous and the police can’t sit around to flag them down … because once they hit someone, they’re off in shot.

“Pedestrians don’t feel safe because cyclists and all these vehicles are not policed or monitored. No-one has any responsibility or accountability.”

A worker at a Lygon St café said her colleague was struck by an Uber Eats delivery rider on the footpath, which left the victim with bruising.

The incidents in Carlton come after police recently cracked down on unsafe electric scooter use in the CBD.

The City of Melbourne said while its was Victoria Police’s responsibility to manage and enforce bike rider safety, the ncouncil had been “providing intel and information and advocating for continued enforcement, which has been occurring”.

Asked if police had acted on reports of unsafe rider behaviour on footpaths, Victoria Police said it was unable to supply details without a time, date, and specific location.

CBD-based principal lawyer Henry Carus, whose firm Henry Carus & Associates specialises in personal injury, said footpath users who were struck and injured by cyclists could make a claim for compensation, however, he added this would be “challenging” if the offending party didn’t have insurance. 

“If the offending party is a homeowner or even a renter with contents insurance, their home and contents insurance may cover them for their negligence that has caused you injury,” he said.

“If the offending party is operating under the cover of a business, that is going to insure that person as an employee then again there will be an insurance policy to protect you.”

“If the offending person is not in any those categories … then maybe you’re left out with any kind of insurance assistance.”

Currently in Victoria only children aged under 12 years and accompanying adults can ride on footpaths – but Mr Carus said “everyone has an obligation to act in a reasonable safe manner including someone on a bicycle.” •


Caption: Concerned residents from left, Tim Swain, Mark Cleary, Gulden Topal, and Lester Levinson are calling for a crack-down on cyclists using footpaths. Photo: Brendan Rees.

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