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Maintaining public footpaths and nature strips?

By Innovation 9 February 2011 14

Am I the only one who gets frustrated walking around suburbs?  As I understand it, the rules include:

  • vegetation must not grow over public footpaths;
  • trees should be trimmed if lower than 2 metres above the path;
  • nature strips should be accessible from the road for pedestrians;
  • nature strips should only be landscaped with other than low level vegetation if approved and if it does not affect line of sight;
  • footpaths must not be blocked for any reason including construction activity unless approved; and
  • registered and non-registered vehicles (or any other materials) should not be left on the nature strip.

Where I live there would be at least fifty houses within a 500m radius that easily breach one or more of these rules.  Some footpaths aren’t even visible.  Many other properties plant hedges so close to the path that they inevitably breach the rules and at least force pedestrians to walk in single file when passing a property.

The ACT Government appears to react only when they get a complaint about a specific address.  Obviously lodging a complaint about multiple addresses would be time consuming and seen as vexatious.

ACT Parking deal with registered vehicles and ACT Rangers deal with other offences including unregistered vehicles.  On receiving a complaint, the first action seems to be to warn the offender rather than impose a penalty.  The only time I made a complaint (because I nearly had an accident when my line of sight was blocked), the registered and unregistered vehicles were removed from the nature strip but were back again a month later.

Am I being unreasonable?  If not, what is the solution?


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14 Responses to
Maintaining public footpaths and nature strips?
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PJCanberra 9:22 pm 16 Feb 11

I’m hearing you! Where I live in Gungahlin trees are so close to the roads edge we need to nudge out so far and so slow just to check if it’s safe to go. Of course even if safe to go, depending on what speeds people are doing in suburbia your still risking life and limb daily!
Another issue in our area is a home business (not sure if it is even legal) a back yard gym type of business. The home owner/renter takes it upon themselves to take their business literally into the alley which is where all the residential garages are accessed from. Coming round the corner, one is more often than not forced to slow or completely stop for all the obstacles placed out for the gym junkies that frequent there. If not obstacles, including very large trucks tyres then it’s the gym junkies themselves – running, skipping, shadow boxing, jumping over in and around the obstacles!
SIck of it is an understatement! Have rung the authorities and hopefully they will sort it out, once and for all!
People should show some respect for others!

laughtong 6:01 pm 10 Feb 11

I noticed on the way home that the fallen branch has finally been removed. One obstacle fixed!

As to reporting cars parked across the footpath – I am normally out walking after hours. By the time anyone responded the cars could easily have been moved for a myriad of reasons.

Innovation 12:17 pm 10 Feb 11

I agree that ACT Rangers and Parking Inspectors patrolling the streets would be resource intensive. I also know that TAMS has made it very easy for people to complain and they respond very quickly. I agree that poisoning is not appropriate although I have jokingly toyed with the idea of pruning but some gardens would need a chainsaw.

The problem though is more fundamental. ACT Rangers and Parking Ops don’t seem to have open communication between each other. If residents have to complain first before anything is done this risks creating tensions with offending residents – sometimes it’s just easier to keep the peace. If TAMS do go out to investigate, the residents only get a warning and can then reoffend again soon after.

A quick drive down many streets will identify numerous obvious breaches. Obviously and understandably some gardens get out of hand from time to time and occasionally people have no choice but to park on nature strips. What I’m concerned about though is people who have no consideration of others and continually offend. The footpath is not a garden border. It is a public walkway. If the path can’t be seen you need to do something. If overhanging branches might take someone’s eye out you need to do something. If you prune your hedge it should be well back behind the path so that new growth does not immediately grow over the path. And don’t, as many people do, prune your hedge and leave jagged branches still sticking over the path. This is even worse.

mp2615 11:06 am 10 Feb 11

I hope you aren’t the nasty character who cuts what he thinks are offending bits of greenery, rather than detouring a few centimetres – and then puts a ding or a chip in the paint of the car in the driveway of the house with a little metal object he carries. Has happened several times in Duffy Street over the last 3 years.

No I’m not. But I’m obviously not the only one who thinks footpaths are for walking on.

I’m not advocating poison or malicious damage. Of course if residents tended to their gardens better, there wouldn’t be a problem, now would there ?

Got some photos or details of the nasty character ? if so, call the police

Lin 10:05 am 10 Feb 11

“I regularly have to deal with cars blocking the footpath. Out here only on one side of the road. This that ever policed?”

Did you ever report it? You can’t expect the rangers or whoever to patrol all Canberra streets to check for obstacles! If I see a car on the footpath I immediately report it.

I don’t think there’s anything you can do about cars in the front yard as they’re on their property. But if they’re parked illegally, you can definitely report them.

Same with green obstacles on the path. You can’t expect TAMS to just know these things. You can call Canberra Connect or use the Fix My Street facility: https://www.contact.act.gov.au/app/answers/detail/a_id/1146

busgirl 9:22 am 10 Feb 11

Suggesting that someone poison someone elses garden is just plain wrong. Some people put alot of blood, sweat, and tears…and love into their gardens and no-on has a right to destroy that. If you really have a gripe just pop a letter in their letter box asking them to tidy up their garden by the foot-path. Most gardeners would be ok with doing that if asked. I know I would.

I-filed 9:15 am 10 Feb 11

mp2615 said :

So have you walked around Ainslie then ? Some serious offenders there, with very mature hedges and shrubs spilling out. Perhaps we could organise some guerilla gardening as a sort of volunteer community beautification program ? Lets start in Duffy Street and work our way down.

I hope you aren’t the nasty character who cuts what he thinks are offending bits of greenery, rather than detouring a few centimetres – and then puts a ding or a chip in the paint of the car in the driveway of the house with a little metal object he carries. Has happened several times in Duffy Street over the last 3 years.

mp2615 7:53 am 10 Feb 11

So have you walked around Ainslie then ? Some serious offenders there, with very mature hedges and shrubs spilling out. Perhaps we could organise some guerilla gardening as a sort of volunteer community beautification program ? Lets start in Duffy Street and work our way down.

Captain RAAF 8:22 pm 09 Feb 11

Why is it only in rural areas that councils will demand unregistered cars be removed from the front of a property yet in suburbia you can park all manner of sh*tboxes in your front yard?

I’m in a running battle with my neighbours, a guvvy house, and they use my driveway as a shortcut to thier front yard so I built a treated pine sleeper plant box that goes right up to the footpath, with big arsed coach bolts on the corners…..first time they decided to clip the plant bos, it tore his tyre to shreds and I watched this young punk changing it on the front yard of the house. Funniest thing I’ve seen in ages.

The best advice I can give is to complain, complain, complain and don’t settle for anything less than the result you want and know is the right one. Take photos, write a very professional submission (think a government/military report) and send it to the governing body. The good thing is, as it’s on your PC, you can just update the info and pics and resend every month or so, failing that, I am a big fan of poison. =-)

laughtong 7:11 pm 09 Feb 11

On my normal route with my dogs (on leash, registered and carrying poo bags) I regularly have to deal with cars blocking the footpath. Out here only on one side of the road. This that ever policed?

Also outside one property there is a fallen branch that has been blocking the only footpath since Christmas. Getting very annoying and scary when having to step out onto the road to go around it on a bend in the road. My two big obedience trained dogs combined weigh more than I do. They could easily take me for a walk if they really wanted to.

I have also seen grass clippings from TAMS mowing left over footpaths. Slippery and a potential safety hazard.

Davo111 7:09 pm 09 Feb 11

Get a 9L spray bottle, some blackberry killer, and some kerosene. Walk down the neighbourhood and spray offending plants. Leave a note in the letterbox and say “oh, i removed some vegetation from the path. regards your friendly neighborhood resident”.

Nothing will grow there for at least 6 months.

Kath 6:46 pm 09 Feb 11

I keep toying with carrying secatuers or a pruning saw in my bag for random acts of pruning, a bit each day as I go by, but it might count as a concealed weapon.

Grail 4:34 pm 09 Feb 11

All it takes for evil tomprevail is for enough good hardeners to forget the pruning.

luther_bendross 4:20 pm 09 Feb 11

Yeah I agree. Trying to go for a run is a bit of a mission, constantly dodging overgrown trees. And in the inner north (particularly along Limestone) I recall having to ride the pushy across a lot of grass due to overgrown hedges.

Whilst not the most pressing issue ever, this does frustrate me a little.

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