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Riding on Footpaths

Until 12 October 2016 !

Petition of Joanne Clendon,

The petition asks that the House recommend a change to the New Zealand Road Rules to allow cycling on the footpath by children under 14 years of age (and accompanying adults), seniors over the age of 65, and vulnerable users (such as those with mental or physical disabilities); make bells mandatory for any bicycle used on footpaths or shared use paths; and allow local authorities to exclude, on a reasonable basis, certain areas of footpath from being used for cycling

The closing date for submissions is Wednesday, 12 October 2016

On Facebook :

On Radio New Zealand National : Exceptions-to-illegal-cycling-on-footpaths-a-step-closer

 In Japan 86 million bicyclists have recently been given the right to choose (as they always had done)

 the safety of their existing network of segregated shared pathways.

 A brief history of the prohibition on riding bicycles on pavements in New Zealand.
The prohibition on riding on footpaths was introduced in s99(2) of the Immigration & Public Works Act 1876. 
It stated "99. If any person does any of the following things upon a road:-
(2.) rides or drives any horse or vehicle on a footpath constructed for foot passengers only:
every person so offending shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding five pounds. ($1,000 in today's money)
In the 1930s this was incorporated into the transport act along with a definition of vehicle.
 For the first time in 60 years it became lawful to push a perambulator or ride a child's tricycle on a footpath. 
Unfortunately the problem of speedy cyclists riding on footpaths in busy shopping areas prevented  adult bicycles  
gaining the same exemption.

A bill went before parliament in 1898 proposing the municipal councils be obliged to build cycle tracks. 
The bill was rejected because part of the funding would have come from cycle registration fees. 
Ironically, a quarter century later parliament passed a bill to construct motor roads with funding from motor registration fees.

Perhaps the solution for utility cycling is to amend the law to allow cycling on footpaths and impose a speed limit on
 footpaths of perhaps 20kph the speed
limit originally imposed for motor cars in 1898).


See also: How the law is limiting the uptake of bicycling in New Zealand 

A precedent exists for those who want to ride on what are currently designated in New Zealand as ‘footpaths’ with Queensland allowing cyclists to enjoy the right to choose to use them with the following guide lines:
Riding on a footpath or shared path (s250)

See the Queensland Ministry of Transports' web-site.

You must:

* keep left and give way to pedestrians on footpaths and shared-use paths.

Riding to the left of oncoming bicycle riders on a path (s251)

You must:

* always ride your bike to the left of other riders coming towards you on a bikepath, footpath, separated path or shared path.

Riding on the footpath (s288)

In Queensland, cyclists of any age are allowed to:

* ride on a footpath unless prohibited by a ‘NO BICYCLES’ sign—you must give way to pedestrians and ride in a manner that does not inconvenience or endanger other footpath users.

Obeying no bicycle signs and markings (s252)

You cannot:

* ride on a road or footpath where bicycle signs or road markings specifically ban bikes.

- Well that all seems a lot more reasonable than the regime New Zealand bicyclists are subject to and certainly removes the angst that those less assertive and risk averse of us who choose to remove ourselves from the combat zone feel. 

The Cycling on Footways Study in Tampines Town in Singapore From 27 May 2007 To 30 May 2008

From a thread on 'Utility Cycling' on the Canterbury Issues Forum in late 2007

Such an outcome ( as that above) would be quite satisfactory and would at least eliminate
 the excuse for those of the 98% who don't cycle who claim that 'sharing the roads
 with motor cars is too much of a risk'.

I have already been told that the Christchurch City Council's legal advisers advised them (2006) that allowing
bicycles to use pavements would make the Council vulnerable to law suits ( ACC? ) from drivers who might hit
cyclists when coming out of driveways so it seems unlikely that they will be championing the cause.
The Minister of Transport was also rather negative about my suggestion that the law be revised.
 Reaffirming the government's autocentric approach ? ( see below )

-Still,-this doesn't change the reality that in Japan, despite the law stating that bicycles are vehicles and therefore
 must ride on the road, that the universal acceptance of ( with even the police) riding on pavements has enabled universal demographic access to cycling as a mode of transport.
I strongly suspect that if the law in Japan were enforced ( actually this year is was changed to allow cycling on
 pavements) to force cyclists to share the roads with motor vehicles, that they would see the abandonment of
cycling to a similar extent to that which we have seen here in New Zealand.

I have just read Andrew's suggestion that those who want to ride on footpaths should just go ahead and do so
 and I've heard others (even a Councillor!) tell me that 'it's never enforced anyway' so just go for it.....

This does not help those in the Bicycle Industry who are subject who have legal responsibilities to consider.

If I were in the cycle importing business and I was looking at importing the kinds of bikes that are more
appropriate to 'slow' riding styles, ( i.e. 90% of the bikes you see wherever utility cycling is the mode of choice)
 to cater for the needs of middle aged women and the elderly, it would not be wise for me to risk investing in
venturing into supplying this potentially very lucrative market while the law prohibits those who might otherwise
 buy them, from using them in the manner for which they are designed.
That is probably why the cycle retail industry is ( with only these few exceptions only selling Mountain Bikes and
Road Racing bikes which are NOT appropriate for urban utility purposes.

If I were in the business of hiring bicycles out to tourists, I would also be worried that my clients, coming from
 countries such as Japan, would be unwilling or unlikely to comply with New Zealand's laws which, in the event
 of an accident, would make me liable.

For those who are reading this and thinking 'but conditions in Japan are very different to conditions in New Zealand',
I assure you , that after having ridden extensively in both countries the conditions are more similar than they are

Living about 4 kms south of Central Christchurch, I often ride on pavements all the way into the city centre without
seeing a pedestrian (or another cyclist). In the same distance in Japan I'd be often be sharing the pavement with
hundreds of pedestrians.
That is the main difference ( oh,-and the amount of glass on the roads here !)
The relationship between 'pavement' and road could be divided into several different 
classifications: Look for these next time you're out.

1 Central Urban,wide pavements high density pedestrian traffic.
( at certain times of day/week)
2 Outer Urban, wide pavements, very low density to zero pedestrian traffic,
3 Suburban main roads, wide pavements,very low to zero density pedestrian traffic
4 Suburban residential, narrow pavements,very low to zero density pedestrian traffic

These could be further sub-divided into various configurations :
e.g. 4.a. border, pavement, grass verge, road ( + deep ditch/shallow drain?)

b. border, pavement, road
c. border, grass verge, pavement, road
d. border, grass verge, no pavement, road.

All of these configurations have driveways crossing them,-as they do in Japan ( where there are no grass verges).
The only configurations which are really of concern are 'a' and 'b' which are of obvious concern as being the 'sudden
 combat zone' which for the authorities in New Zealand, seem to serve as the justification for the blanket outlawing
 of riding on all the other classifications.

An education campaign to remind drivers of their responsibility whencrossing pavements to check for crossing
pedestrians, joggers, 'nobility' scooters, and 'slow' cyclists.
In Japan convex mirrors are commonly installed at entrances/driveways to enable both drivers and cyclists to see
 each other.
Requiring motorists to drive forward ( rather than back out) might also be helpful.

More ?
From the left field ( and staying in it )

I recently wrote the following to a vehicular cycling advocates' group in Japan who are appalled that the law has been changed to allow cyclists there to ride on pavements,-as they(even the Police) have always chosen to do. 

Subject: 07.12.20 Alan to
Sidewalk cycling in Japan

 Konnichi wa, Alan Preston here in New Zealand.

 The fact that so many people choose to cycle in Japan has a lot to do with their not being forced onto the road with motorised traffic.

Young children, teenagers, women with kids, middle aged women, the elderly,
the unfit and unsporty,- are all well represented in the utility cycling demographic in Japan.


I know,- I cycled on pavements (and on roads) there every day for 10 years (in and around Nagoya, Yokkaichi and Kyoto).

Where I'm living now, in Christchurch, New Zealand's (mythically) 'mostcycle-friendly' city,
 less than 2% (and falling) of traffic is cyclists.
Cycling on sidewalks is illegal (and enforced) and the above-mentioned demographic groups are extremely poorly represented among cyclists.

-They WON'T ride on the road with traffic,-even where there are cycle lanes.

The vast majority of cyclists in New Zealand are young(ish) men, assertive advocates of 'vehicular cyclism', riding mountain bikes and road racers as fast as they can, who for the main part seem to think that anyone on a bicycle should behave as they do.

The cycling advocacy movement is strongly influenced by their perspective, perceptions and assertions,-all backed up with statistics of course...-which plays into the hands of the auto-lobby because keeping middle-aged women, children and the elderly off the pavements keeps them from taking up cycling AT ALL,-which, by keeping the numbers down and the cycling demographic narrow, emasculates the cycle advocate lobby's technocratic approach to 'encouraging' cycling by compelling everyone to ride on the roads or where possible, by providing cycle lanes,
because local government councillors, who have the last word, are hamstrung without having the political credibility that the numbers which a universally inclusive cycling demographic would give them,-to secure funding for the establishment of cycling infrastructure which has actual ( not just 'asserted') separation from motor vehicles.

Cycling advocates need to realise that we cyclists are not all the same and that we all have different styles of riding, preferences and needs.

If the Japanese Police were to force all cyclists onto the road (which your group is advocating ) I have little doubt that you'd see a similar death of cycling to that which we have experienced here in New Zealand.

If I'm in a big hurry, I want to be have the right to ride on the road, but if I'm not, as one who is choosing the preferable (emission free) 'way forward', I also want the right to choose to ride on pavements where I see it is preferable and safe.

Alan Preston in Christchurch, New Zealand

Watch this short video taken on Kyoto's Oike Dori.


From an article in the Japan Times on the 24th of February 2008 

"Three killed and more than 11,000 injured in the past five years.

 In 2006, 2,767 pedestrians across Japan reported being hit by cyclists, up from 2,576 in 2005 and an almost fivefold increase on the 1996 figure."

Yes, terrible. -But how does this stack up when, according to this article 

"a total of 86 million people in Japan own a bicycle".

The Land Transport New Zealand Road Toll web page shows that 12 cyclists have been killed in New Zealand ( on the roads) in the year to date.



In Japan ( Nagoya, Yokkaichi, Kyoto) where for 10 years I reveled in the glorious freedom of having the choice of riding ( unhelmeted ) on the roads OR the pavements, with hundreds of other cyclists AMONG thousands of pedestrians , and never having had nor seen nor heard of a collision I find the assertion that 'cycling on pavements is dangerous' to be well.... 

Watch this short video taken on Kyoto's Oike Dori. 

I can't understand the logic of legislating to compel cyclists to wear helmets 'for their safety' and then prohibiting them from using pavements and compelling them to ride on our narrow crowded roads between parked and moving motor vehicles that are moving much greater speeds.

 “In your web-log, ( )  you suggest that one of the keys to increasing mode share for cycling is to redefine cycling from a 'slow moving vehicle' to a 'fast moving pedestrian.
In doing so, cyclists would be shifted from the road to the footpath.”

This is not an ‘either or’ situation.
For utility cycling to be universally practicable ALL cyclists must have the right to ride on BOTH the roads AND the pavements, according to their discretion, as they see fit in any given situation, in order to mitigate the risk of injury or death and without constant fear of being penalized (i.e. fined $200).

"There are network infrastructure and safety reasons for doing so."
I understand these 'reasons' but as someone who for 10 years in Japan has experienced the delightful freedom of being able to cycle to suit my convenience and sense of personal security, I am finding cycling here in New Zealand a dangerous and unattractive option for all kinds of reasons.

"In New Zealand the majority of our footpath network is too narrow to allow dual use by pedestrians and cyclists."

I am well aware of the studies that show that 'ideally' cyclists 'should' have a corridor of 2.4 metres to enable them to pass each other or pedestrians.
 From my 10 years of experience of riding on (very busy) and often narrow footpaths in Japanese cities which are extremely similar to the (almost always empty and often wide) footpaths on which I ride in Christchurch, I can only say that forcing cyclists to wait for the installation of 'ideal width' corridors is unreasonable, in view of which, I think it is important that - at least as an interim measure, the law prohibiting cyclists from using footpaths be rescinded.
Allowing cyclists to use the footpaths would be a first step in clearing the way for a market driven uptake of utility cycling by a much broader range of people. Many of the styles of bicycles that are popular where utility cycling is prevalent are not ideally suited for riding with cars. e.g. Ladies shopping bikes and folding bikes.

 "There would be unaffordable network upgrade costs for many local authorities were we to implement your suggestion".
No upgrade is needed.
 The infrastructure, - the footpaths, are already in place with the density of pedestrian traffic being at an all time low.

 According to traffic engineers it is generally recognised that every dollar spent on promoting cycling realises a $20 benefit : Fund a study to get some idea of what the actual numbers of pedestrians using pavements in New Zealand is - and another study which compares these figures (which will be much higher) with Japan and Denmark.
Cycling will never take off in New Zealand's cities as long as the legally defined environment restricts its uptake to the narrow range of people who are brave and assertive and fit and fast enough to ride with the traffic.
"There are also significant cycle safety issues associated with riding on footpaths."
New Zealand's high level of car use and car ownership means that, unlike other countries, our footpaths frequently cross household driveways.
Encouraging cyclists to ride on footpaths would bring them into conflict with cars entering and exiting households." 

 To provide the optimum environment for pedestrians, joggers, mobility scooters,-and all other pavement users, the onus must be on drivers ( as it always has been ) to check and to give way.

Since I had my arm clipped by a delivery van speeding past me while I was in a cycle lane (in Addington, Christchurch last year), I have chosen to take my chances and ride on the footpaths and find it to be much safer (as I always did in Japan), except for now having the continual distraction of having to watch out for police.
The danger you mention of cars coming out of driveways is as real as is the danger of riding in a cycle lane and having cars that have emerged from a driveway pull out onto the road obfuscated from view by a row of parked cars along which cyclists have to continually check for opening doors which could force you(as has happened to me a number of times) suddenly to veer out into the path of the cars behind you.
For those who do chose to ride on the pavement, the tendency is to be riding at a more relaxed pace and as a cyclist, not enclosed in a soundproof shell, being quite able to hear the sounds of cars as they are about to pull out and, -in the unlikely event that you hit /or are hit by one, you are not going to be killed by the vehicle that would be following you if you were to end up lying on the road.
This is the environment and the reality for urban utility cyclists in New Zealand.
Little wonder there are so few of us, -
  "Also, due to the relatively narrow footpaths, cyclists and pedestrians may come into conflict."
During my 10 years of cycling on very busy footpaths in Japanese cities, I never once had a collision with either a pedestrian or another cyclist, and certainly never with a motor vehicle. If I had, it is very likely that the result would have been relatively minor compared to the consequences of being hit by a car as cyclists are currently compelled to risk doing here 

 "Both of these factors are likely to lead to less safe conditions for cycling and may further impact on declining cyclist numbers."
From Central Government down we are being told that we need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and establish sustainable transport systems to reduce our vulnerability caused by our dependence on imported fossil fuels.
We need to make cycling preferable, practical and practicable to EVERYONE in our communities, not just those who are like ourselves, who for the main part make up the cycle advocacy movement.
N.B. A large proportion of the large proportion who cycle in Japan are women, and a large proportion of those women are elderly.  The current legislative environment and the unavailability of appropriate technologies dissuade and impede elderly women from taking up cycling in New Zealand. I doubt that they'd feel comfortable riding mountain bikes and I doubt that any of them would feel safe riding on the roads with the traffic here, even where we do have cycle lanes. 

-Meanwhile the pavements go all but unused ( at great expense to the car-driving ratepayers ). 

If we can get the kinds of bicycles into the country that EVERYONE can ride , and we can establish the environment in which EVERYONE feels safe to ride, then we will start to get the REAL political support for the anti-car(bon burner) legislation and funding that it will take to start making the changes such as prioritizing bicycle lanes over the right to parallel curb-side parking which at the moment would spell political suicide for any Councilor in local government. 

Sharing the pavements in California:

   See also : The On again off debate about cycle facilities

Rationale and Strategy