The question says it all! Today a police officer cautioned me. (He said this applies to footpaths, not shared paths).
I tried to politely say that isn't how I'd seen the law presented, but I let it go because it was just a caution.
I can't see any such law either in the "Cycling and the law" booklet or the Australian Road Rules. The "Cycling and the law" booklet says, "If you are riding on a road with a bicycle lane, you must ride in the bicycle lane", so I don't see a problem, unless the footpath alongside the road is considered part of the road.
It is legal, unless a sign prohibits it.
"Where can I ride my bicycle?
You may ride on either the road or the footpath. You may ride on the footpath even if there is a bicycle lane on the road. If you are riding on the road you will still be required to ride in a bike lane where one is provided.
When riding in a pedestrian area (the footpath, or shared path), you are required to keep left and give way to pedestrians. Some footpaths may be signed "no bikes" on a sign pole or path marking, in which case you must use the road instead."
Just another case of a police officer not knowing the road rules...
If forced to ride in a bike lane rather than on the footpath, would defeat the purpose of catering for less confident cyclists: children, some women, newbies, seniors, disability, or when cycling conditions awful. Some of my riding is on footpaths.
Andrew, reminds me of an old AC post. A police officer warned a cyclist for not riding in a 'non-operational bike lane' outside of peak-hour. A police officer warned an interstate tourist for riding on the road, rather than an off-road shared path.
I would complain about the caution. SAPOL has followed up with me in a case of being wrong on legislation rather than an arsey judgement call.
For reference, here's the extract from the South Australia Australian Road Rules:
Regulation 247—Riding in a bicycle lane on a road
(1) The rider of a bicycle riding on a length of road with a bicycle lane designed for bicycles travelling in the same direction as the rider must ride in the bicycle lane unless it is impracticable to do so.
(2) In this rule— road does not include a road-related area.
Regulation 13—What is a road-related area
(1) A road-related area is any of the following: (b) a footpath or nature strip adjacent to a road;