The closure of gyms and fitness centres as part of the Covid-19 lockdown has seen an increase in the number of people using their local footpaths and shared paths for exercise.
Instead of walking, running or cycling on a treadmill or bike indoors, people are now exercising on public paths, including families with young children, and people walking their dogs.
The increased numbers of people on our paths creates a greater risk of trips and other footpath accidents, so it’s important that we pay extra attention to footpath safety.
The dangers of footpaths
Maurice Blackburn has represented many clients over the years who have been seriously injured as a result of a footpath accident - the causes of which include poorly maintained paths, and other hazards like potholes, fallen trees and raised concrete.
Our clients have suffered a range of injuries including to their ankles, arms, legs and backs. Some of these footpath accident related injuries will have lifelong consequences, affecting their ability to work or carry out everyday tasks at home.
What can you do to help prevent footpath accidents?
While the number of people using our paths remains higher than usual, extra safety measures will be needed to prevent footpath accidents.
For some councils, scheduled hazard and defect inspections of their paths only take place every few months to a year, or even longer. They also respond as needed when a hazard or a defect is reported to them.
Given the extra traffic on our footpaths, we encourage councils to undertake more regular proactive inspections of paths for hazards and defects.
If you're regularly using your local footpaths, you also have a part to play in helping to prevent footpath accidents from occurring. We encourage you to immediately report any hazards and defects you come across either directly to your local council, or via one of the free reporting apps.
You should also ensure your driveway is kept clear and avoid dumping rubbish or other materials on your nature strip to ensure paths are kept hazard free.
If you, or someone you know, has suffered an injury due to a footpath accident, seek legal advice.