V-Wall collision prompts discussion about shared spaces

While Jo's injuries from the crash are now healing, she's still quite shaken. And she's $300 out of pocket after having to buy a new phone.
While Jo's injuries from the crash are now healing, she's still quite shaken. And she's $300 out of pocket after having to buy a new phone.

The V-Wall and Wellington Drive precinct has always been a beloved and well-used public space.

And with the recent upgrades to the amenities only increasing its favourability, some are starting to question whether it might now start to become a little too popular.

Car parking has been the issue on most people's lips. But the shared paths are another.

The recently widened paths have become a more attractive option for those on bikes, scooters, and skateboards.

And this has already led to a few conflicts of space.

Guardian News received a letter to the editor this week detailing a collision that happened on Sunday morning, January 10:

Dear editor,

Whilst on my usual morning walk returning back from the V-Wall along Wellington Drive, I was struck from behind by a large bicycle that was being ridden by a nine-year-old girl.

I was thrown over the embankment by the impact and into the shallow water.

I had to retrieve my car keys and mobile phone. The phone was destroyed and had to be replaced, as I am a support worker in the community and am required to have one.

I also lost my sunglasses and my shirt and shoes were torn.

I sustained grazes and a significant gash to my right shin. I also had bruises to my abdomen, right wrist, right ankle and breast.

A couple of men helped me back up onto the footpath where I was left bloodied and soaking wet. I visited my doctor after who gave me a tetanus shot.

I have been doing this walk for the past seventeen years and have witnessed many misses involving bikes and walkers.

I have contacted the council [and other relevant authorities], and all have stated that there wasn't anything they could do.

I feel, at the very least, a sign should be erected stating: 'No bell, no bike'.

Sincerely,

Joanna Shepherd, Nambucca Heads

Right of reply

Guardian News contacted council for a response to this letter.

Nambucca Valley Council's Safety and Risk Officer Ken Fowler said according to recent changes in state legislation, children aged 16 and under are legally allowed to ride bikes on footpaths.

Since 23 July 2018, children under 16 years of age are allowed to ride on a footpath. Allowing children under the age of 16 on the footpath will help keep them safe until they have the skills, decision making and knowledge of the rules to ride safely on the road ... When riding on a footpath, riders must keep left and give way to pedestrians.

Transport for NSW Centre for Road Safety

Mr Fowler said it was not within council's purview to enforce the use of bells on pushbikes - "that's a police matter".

He said it was "unfortunate that this has happened", and added that if anyone had a suggestion for improving the use of this popular public space, that they should contact council in writing.

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