The scenario we're about to describe is one that could happen easily on Canberra's increasingly busy shared paths, if reported rises in conflict between the city's pedestrians and cyclists are correct.
Incidents of pathway aggro flare up, the pedestrians accusing cyclists of riding too fast. The cyclists shake their fists at pedestrians for ambling along unaware of their surroundings, wearing headphones, and stepping out into their path at the most dangerous possible time.
Pedal Power reports there are more conflicts between the two, and that Canberra's congested shared paths are partly to blame. Having encouraged motorists to shun their cars, ease peak-hour motor traffic, and cycle instead, the territory government may have another problem on its hands.
In an ideal world, pedestrians and cyclists would work it out themselves and hopefully apply a liberal dose of commonsense and civility. Any observer of motorist behaviour, just about anywhere, would know that vision seems beyond reach on the roads. Why should it be any different on a shared path?
The problem shouldn't just be a government one, and it is not entirely up to policymakers to step in where pedestrians and cyclists just need to be adults. There's also a clear role the ACT government can play.
Pedal Power's call for the government to separate cyclists, runners and pedestrians with more dedicated cycle paths isn't necessarily a reflection on the groups. It could simply show that these routes are getting busy enough for a sensible rethink about how the city manages its traffic, of both the foot and pedal varieties.
Looking overseas, cycle paths are common in Europe and keep cyclists separate from mazes of cars, trams and pedestrians. It might be time to look at what works in those countries and see what Canberra can learn if it's to be a city that's friendly to cyclists.
In Pedal Power's view, the ACT's current network of shared on-road cycleways has attracted all the cyclists it can. It wants segregated paths there, too. Many who have felt cars speed past them up a main road would agree.
The kinds of tensions reported in Canberra have emerged elsewhere in Australia. Sydney's suburban streets and paths have been the setting for conflict as councils have built separate cycle paths, and in Perth, traffic growth has put cyclists at odds with pedestrians.
In Western Australia, pedestrians have called for cycling speed limits, an idea that would be impractical for anyone on a bike and difficult for police to enforce. Traffic calming measures - think bike-slowing curves - have also emerged as a solution. The ACT should pay attention to those debates and their outcomes.
The ACT government has poured money into its cycling infrastructure and is trying to get people cycling - that's a good thing. It's acting on plans to reshape Woden, Belconnen and Tuggeranong with cycle ways. Compared to other capital cities, Canberra has a very good network of paths for cyclists.
Growth in cycling should not be allowed to clog up shared paths unchecked in the ACT. A successful push to encourage cycling, and walking, needs to be met with a commitment to provide appropriate infrastructure to cope with those growing numbers. Cyclists, pedestrians, and the government all have a role to play in finding solutions that work for all groups.