Gina Witchard (front) with fellow cyclists, who are angry at being banned by Ballina Shire Council from riding on the river foreshore path.
Gina Witchard (front) with fellow cyclists, who are angry at being banned by Ballina Shire Council from riding on the river foreshore path. The Northern Star

Cyclists forced off pathway

GINA Witchard and other Ballina bike riders are furious the Ballina Shire Council last week 'kicked them off' the river foreshore path near Fawcett Park.

Ms Witchard uses the pathway, which runs from the Ballina RSL Club to the Ramada Hotel and Suites, almost every day - but since the council erected signs stating no bicycles are allowed, she has to take her ride elsewhere.

The council said the path had always been 'pedestrian only', but Ms Witchard and other cyclists said they should be allowed to ride on it because they had not seen an accident on the path in the past five years.

"It's the only safe place to ride in the CBD," Ms Witchard said.

"If you ride through town you get knocked off your bike and risk being killed, and if you ride on the footpaths in town you get fined.

"There's a huge number of bike riders, young and old, who use this path and it would be a real shame if we couldn't use it any more."

The group said riding along the path was 'half the joy of living in Ballina' and that banning them from using it would be to stop them from fully enjoying life.

Ballina Shire Council's 'Ballina Pathways' pamphlet shows the stretch of pathway along Fawcett Park as a shared pathway (pedestrians and bike riders). But civil services group manager John Truman said the pamphlet was wrong and needed to be amended.

"When the path was considered during the development of the CBD master plan (in 2002) it was designated as pedestrian only," he said.

"Given the height of the retaining wall and that it would be only possible to pull off the path in one direction in the event of a fall or a collision, a physical barrier between the path and the river would have been required to reduce the risks for injuries. With the intensification of use in the area in recent times, council has found it necessary to reinforce that (pedestrian) designation with signage."

The council is studying route options for a cycleway linking Burns Point Ferry Road and the existing path, which starts at the Tourist Information Centre.


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