Road Code for Motorists and Cyclists

This page provides New Zealand's road code to help motorists and cyclists share the road in safety.


 1. For Motorists - Sharing the road with cyclists

Cyclists can be quite vulnerable on the road as they are less visible and less well protected than other road users.

For these reasons, be alert for cyclists on the road and drive carefully when near them.

Safe driving around cyclists

  • Hazards like parked cars, potholes, glass, litter and opening car doors may cause cyclists to veer off-line and move into your path. Because of this, give cyclists plenty of room when passing them. Ideally, allow at least 1.5 metres between you and the cyclist.
  • Wait for a clear space before passing a cyclist on a narrow road.
  • At intersections, apply the same rules to cyclists that you would to any other vehicle on the road. Take care to indicate turns.
  • Only drive across cycle lanes when entering or leaving side roads, driveways or parking spaces.
  • If you are crossing a cycle lane, give way to cyclists before you cross.
  • Take extra care around young cyclists.

Common causes of cycle collisions

Take extra care when you are carrying out the following actions.

Moving through or turning at intersections

Cyclists can be hard to see on the road. Always check carefully for cyclists before turning at, or moving through, an intersection. If you are following a cyclist and want to turn left, wait until the cyclist has passed the intersection.

Opening a car door

You can injure a cyclist if you open your door into their path. Always check carefully for cyclists before you open your door.

Reversing or moving out of driveways or parking spaces

Always check the road carefully for cyclists before reversing or moving out of a driveway or parking space.

Passing groups of cyclists

Remember, don't drive too close to cyclists. Allow them plenty of room.

What cyclists would like drivers to know

  • Bicycles are small and can be difficult to see, especially at night. Don't just look for car-sized vehicles.
  • Cyclists can feel threatened by inconsiderate driving. Cyclists have a right to space on the road and need extra room at intersections and roundabouts.
  • Cyclists may ride away from the kerb or occupy a lane – not because they want to annoy drivers, but to:
    • avoid drains, potholes or roadside rubbish
    • be seen as they come up to intersections with side roads
    • discourage drivers from squeezing past where it's too narrow.
  • Cyclists turning right are exposed. They need extra consideration from drivers, especially on multi-laned roads with fast-moving traffic.
  • Cyclists can be forced into faster traffic by vehicles that are parked where they shouldn't be:
    • in cycle lanes
    • on broken yellow lines, or
    • near intersections.
  • Cyclists are dazzled by headlights on full beam, just like other road users – remember to dip your lights for cyclists as well as other motor vehicles.
  • Cyclists can be fast movers, capable of travelling at speeds of 40 km/h or more.
  • Cyclists have a right to use the roads and to travel safely and enjoyably. Please understand and respect their needs.



2. For Cyclists - Sharing the road with motorists

As a cyclist, it is important that you follow the road rules and guidelines. They will increase your safety when you are cycling on the road.

Safety rules for cyclists

  • Cyclists must wear an approved safety helmet. Always fasten it securely, by following the manufacturer's instructions.
  • It's a good idea to wear brightly coloured or reflective clothing when cycling. That way you'll be easier to see.
  • Don't ride your bicycle on a footpath unless you are delivering newspapers, mail or leaflets, or there is a sign indicating it is a shared pedestrian and cycle path.
  • At intersections, you must:
    • follow the rules for motor vehicles, or
    • get off your bicycle and walk across.
  • You can only ride alongside another cyclist or moped. You must not ride alongside a car, truck or other motor vehicle.
  • Always ride in single file if passing another vehicle.
  • Your bicycle must not be towed by another vehicle.
  • Your bicycle can only tow a trailer (one designed to be towed by a bicycle) and must not be fitted with a sidecar.
  • You must not carry a pillion passenger on your bicycle unless you have a pillion seat and footrest. If you are carrying a child, the pillion seat must protect the child's legs from the wheels.
  • You must not leave a bicycle blocking a footpath.
  • Where there is an adequate cycle path or cycle lane, cyclists should use it.
  • You must ride with lights on when it is dark (from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise).
  • You must keep your bicycle in good working condition.

Hand signals for cyclists

You must give a hand signal at least three seconds before stopping or turning.

Always check to make sure your hand signals have been seen and understood.

Look well behind you to make sure there is room for you to turn, pull out or pass safely.

The hand signal shown below means you want to turn left.

Picture of a cyclist using a left-turn hand signal

Left-turn hand signal

The hand signal shown below means you are stopping or slowing down.

Picture of a cyclist using a stop hand signal

Stop hand signal

The hand signal shown below means you:

  • want to turn right
  • are going to pass a vehicle or some other object on the road
  • are pulling out from the kerb.
Picture of a cyclist using a right-turn hand signal

Right-turn hand signal

What drivers would like cyclists to know

  • Drivers expect cyclists to obey the road rules.
  • Drivers usually travel faster than cyclists and therefore have less time to react to hazards. Remember this when you're on the road.
  • Sometimes cyclists' behaviour can unsettle drivers, such as when cyclists appear hesitant or change direction suddenly.
  • Drivers can feel delayed by cyclists.
  • Licensed drivers and cyclists both have a right to use our roads, and both share a responsibility to understand and respect each other's needs.

Features your bicycle must have

Picture showing features a bicycle must have

Features your bicycle must have

  • A. A red or yellow reflector at the back.
  • B. Good brakes on the front and back wheels (or, if the bike was made on or before 1 January 1988, a good brake on the back wheel).

When riding at night bicycles must have:

  • C. A steady or flashing rear-facing red light that can be seen at night from a distance of 100 metres.
  • D. One or two white or yellow headlights that can be seen at night from a distance of 100 metres (one of these lights may flash).
  • E. Yellow pedal reflectors, or the rider must be wearing reflective material.


Any load you carry on your bicycle must be tied on firmly and must not touch the ground.