A local councillor, who receives the Adelaide BUG newsletter, asked a question.

I have had a query about shared use paths from a cyclist.
He thinks pedestrians move out of his way better when he rings his bell on coming up behind them if there is a central line marking as on the Marion part of the Coast Park, whereas Holdfast Bay generally does not mark the centre of the path. The cyclist presumes that, seeing the centre line, people can orient themselves more easily and move more quickly out of his way.
Do you, BUG or any other cyclists you know have any opinion on the merits of marking the centre of a shared use path?

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here is a few things that I have noted over 20 years of riding on Adelaide paths..

  • If there is a line, then yes a single pedestrian will keep/ move to the left when ringing a bell but if its 2 people walking together then no - they will continue to walk side by side if there is a line. If there isnt a line the who is on the outside often drops back.
  • if the path is narrow, a ped will walk off the path when they hear a bell (walking both in the same and opposite direction). but if there's a line then no they stay on the path. (note this could also be attributed to lined path being wider)
  • Peds wearing headphones walk more to the left if there is a line. ringing a bell doesnt make them either (unlined or line path peds) move.

If a councillor wants to make a real difference try putting in some "polite" signs.

ie "wearing headphones? stay focused to your surroundings"

"Cyclists, slow a little when overtaking pedestrians"

hope that helps

I don't think it makes a difference.

I cycle 5 days a week on Torrens Linear Park (mostly unmarked), West Terrace Bikeway (marked), and the Marino Bikeway which has various shared paths (mostly marked). Pedestrians are more likely to be on the left to begin with if there are markings, and perhaps know better which direction to move. But I don't think pedestrians on marked shared paths are any better or worse at moving than those on unmarked paths.

My personal opinion: when Coast Park is busy, cyclists need to accept that there will be pedestrians wandering everywhere, and go slow. I'm not sure I like the idea of telling pedestrians where to walk on "scenic" paths such as Coast Park or the Torrens.

Pedestrians move left for cyclists? Some do, some don't, white lines don't seem to have much influence. Pedestrians of course have right of way on shared paths, no matter what cyclists want.

Hi Heather.

It may help - I've got no idea what the research says but commonsense suggests a positive effect. However it's all very expensive and - personally - I think it may be more worthwhile spending money on large signs - I think they are made by EarthWrap - that are stuck to the surface of the pathway (as used by CCS on CoastPark) to inform users about the essential shared path rules:

  • keep left
  • ring bell when passing
  • cyclists always pass on right etc etc.

After all, a white line has relatively limited communication value and meaning. I reckon these ground-level signs communicate a much stronger shared message  In the final analysis its the development of a ‘shared use culture’ amongst regular walkers and bicycle users (and skaters, skateboarders etc) that matters - it's shared culture that keeps people safe. See pics below from the Coastal Way just South of Semaphore...


I favour a dashed line.  They should be used to distinguish shared paths (where pedestrians can expect to have to share the path with cyclists) from footpaths (where cyclists should regard themselves as “guests” and fit around pedestrians).

By the way, moving over the right before ringing your bell results in the pedestrian hearing the bell over his/her right shoulder and moving (if at all) to the left, rather than into your intended path of travel.  Life has been much better on shared paths since I discovered that.

Ian - great tip!

I  haven't really noticed how a center line effects pedestrians, but I do think it tends to make cyclists keep more to the left, which is helpful  for overtaking and also I think center lines around bends aids in safety as again cyclists tend to keep left more when there is the line in place

Personally, as a pedestrian on shared paths, I loathe being rung at.  It feels like "get out of my way".  Personally I only ring when I come up behind someone filling the whole path or behaving erratically.  Everyone else I either pass very wide, slow down or both.

The fact that we seem to be forever having this conversation highlights that shared paths are frankly conceived to fail.  They are only fit for purpose when either cycling or pedestrian levels are very low.

It reminds me of the anecdote/joke:

A motorist, a cyclist and a pedestrian are having morning tea.  There are 10 biscuits on a plate.  The motorist takes nine, and says to the pedestrian, "Watch out, that cyclist is trying to take your biscuit!"

Personally, as a pedestrian on shared paths, I loathe being rung at. It feels like "get out of my way".

Spent the day out on a whole bunch of shared paths, meeting quite a few pedestrians. Where they were walking straight ahead on the far left and not vaguely drifting towards the middle, I didn't ring. The rest got as many dings as needed to make our mutual path sharing experience safe. The classic was Ma and Daughter across both sides of the path. Me: ding, ding, ding, ding, skree, stop, "Hello!" Mother dances all over the path trying to apologise and find her balance while all a flutter. Daughter doesn't have a clue how to behave on a divided path, just stands there blocking the right side. I just smile and wave and ride on.

If your behaviour shows you're fully aware of your surroundings you don't get a ding!

I don't think it reflects well on us as a society that the sound of a horn is generally taken to mean either "get out of my way" or "you're a f*wit".  The only legal use of a warning device is to warn someone of your approach.  That's the way it is used in Asia, along with greetings from drivers who want to wave at you.  (Though I must admit I get sick of them doing all the warning and greeting!)

I'm not sure that pedestrians feel hostility to cyclists who ring their bell.  Once or twice I've even been thanked by the pedestrian for ringing my bell!

I don't think shared paths fail. Most shared paths have low enough traffic that sharing works just fine. The coastal path is an exception rather than the rule.

As for bell ringing, as a pedestrian I much prefer a bell to a close pass. As a cyclist I think there is a bit of an art to it - ring far enough back that it's not loud and sudden, but not so far back that you don't get heard.

As a pedestrian I prefer to be dinged at if the cyclist is riding at any sort of speed, but I want some fair warning, not to be dinged at the very moment the cyclist is overtaking, which can be quite alarming.


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