Canberra's off-road "cycle paths" have become a free-for-all and are the site of more serious bike accidents than roads, new research has revealed.
Researchers from the George Institute interviewed 313 cyclists who presented to the ACT's two hospital emergency departments after accidents.
George Institute research fellow Liz de Rome said she had been surprised to discover the average injury severity was more serious for accidents that occurred on shared pathways than on roads.
Ms de Rome said the recommended speed limit for pathways was 15km/h, but the average estimated speed being travelled by cyclists involved in accidents was more than 20km/h.
She said the regulation of cycling in shared areas should be reviewed.
"They are not regulated by police because they are not part of the road reserve. And so really it's sort of like a free-for-all zone," she said.
"The default speed limit in the ACT, as in most states, is 50 [km/h]. So people are doing 50 and it's not safe."
The study found that full-bodied coverage, including gloves, shoes, long-sleeved tops and full-length pants, was effective at preventing or reducing some injuries.
The study, which was funded by the NRMA-ACT Road Safety Trust, backed the establishment of more on-road dedicated cycle lanes.