Draft Road and Cycleway User policy

Policy Statement:

A nationwide expansion in separated cycling infrastructure is underway. People riding their bikes on these facilities will interact with each other and with people walking; people using their bikes for everyday cycling will almost inevitably continue to share the road space with motor vehicle drivers. People cycling, walking and driving need to see each other as individual people and consider each others' viewpoints. Any substantive improvement in the safety of people driving, cycling or walking requires attitudinal change on the part of all involved, by following road rules and acting courteously. CAN therefore proposes that a Road and Cycleway User Code of Conduct be established.

This Code of Conduct would require prior research that aims to identify the best way for people walking and people on bikes to share cycleways and shared use paths. The Code of Conduct would include reference to:

  • Encouraging all users to see each other as individual people, rather than perjorative terms such as "cyclist", "pedestrian", "motorist", "truck driver" etc.This will require people to discard these terms in place of "people on bikes", "people walking", "people driving" etc.;
  • Encouraging people driving vehicles to become more are aware of people on bikes. This particularly relates to intersections, and roads with various combinations of risk factors such as carriageway width, speed limit, and trafic density;
  • The enactment of minimum passing distances involving all vulnerable road users, linked to speed limits: 1 m at 60 km/h and below, and 1.5m above 60 km/h;
  • Encouraging people riding bikes in groups to make sure that people driving vehicles can overtake easily without undue delay;
  • Establishing and then publicising behaviours that would encourage a constructive relationship between people walking and people cycling on separated cycleways and shared paths;
  • Encouraging people on bikes to take account of varying levels of driver skill combined with motor vehicle size;
  • Encouraging people on bikes to wear hi-vis clothing in low visibility environments, but with no mandatory requirement;
  • Encouraging all people, whether walking, on bikes or driving, to respect traffic lights, road directional signs and other road rules so long as these cater for everyone (not just vehicle drivers);
  • The necessity for local authorities and government agencies to design and implement signalling and signage that respects the needs and rights of everyone, whether walking, on bikes, or driving;
  • Encouraging people on bikes to only ride two abreast when road and traffic conditions allow, and encouraging vehicle drivers to appreciate that the space taken up by motor vehicles is often substantial in relation to their occupancy;
  • An FAQ section "what people riding bikes would like people driving cars to know", "what people driving cars would like people riding bikes to know" (etc).

As part of this process:

  • To encourage courteous and respectful behaviour, CAN supports publicity aimed at (1) people driving vehicles (such as "Share the road" campaigns), and (2) people riding bikes (such as "Stop at red" and "The good bunch" campaigns), and educational programmes aimed at people driving heavy vehicles. There are ample examples of such campaigns in overseas jurisdictions;
  • CAN supports cycle skills training both in schools and of adults as part of a long-term strategy to increase the appreciation of the viewpoint of people riding bikes (as well as increasing participation rate);
  • CAN supports implementation of a 40 km/h speed limit on local urban roads, as part of the implementation of minimum passing distances;
  • CAN supports the implementation of the Safe System approach promoted by the Cycling Safety Panel (2014).


1. Introduction

1.1 Vision

That all road and cycleway users understand behaviours that facilitate courteous and respectful interactions with each other.


1.2 Purpose


The purpose of this Policy is to (1) set out a mechanism by which an effective Code of Conduct might be developed and implemented for all road and cycleway users, and (2) sets out CAN positions on various components that could be part of a Code of Conduct. The particular CAN positions are:

  • The use of hi-vis clothing by people on bikes;
  • Minimum passing distances by vehicles;
  • Cycle skills training for school children;
  • Implementation of 40 km/h speed limits on selected urban roads;
  • Cycling two-abreast

1.3 Activities required for implementation. In each case, the 2020 date refers to NZTA's target of a doubling of cycling trips:

 ActivityStakeholderWhoIndicator of success
1.Identify behaviours that allow people using their bikes on shared paths to courteously warn people walking of their approachPeople using shared paths to walk or bikeNZTABehaviours identified relevant to all subgroups of "interested but concerned" potential bicycle users; target date December 2016
2.Set up ongoing educational programmes that inform people on bikes and people walking of the behaviours identified in (1) abovePeople using shared paths to walk or bikeLocal councils, alongside local groups80% or more of people biking and of people walking are using the behaviours identified by 2020
3.Set up ongoing programmes that teach children and adults how to ride their bike safely on roads and cycle pathsChildren and adults with little or no recent experience of riding a bikeTrained instructors contracted to local councils 

100% of school children whose school is on a UCP project have completed cycle training by the end of Year 8 by 2020;

10% of the "interested but concerned" group of adults in the main UCP cities of Wellington, Auckland & Christchurch have completed a programme of cycle skills training by 2020 


Draw up a list of FAQs covering "what people riding bikes would like car drivers to know", "what people driving cars would like people riding bikes to know", "what people driving trucks would like people driving cars to know" etc

All road and cycleway usersCAN, in conjunction with AA, RTF, Living StreetsCompleted by December 2016 
5.Set up ongoing educational programmes that inform people using roads on how to behave courteously toward each other, using campaigns such as "share the road", the "good bunch", "stop at red" etc, informed by (1) and (4) aboveAll road and cycleway users NZTA and its contractors; cycle clubs; local councils; schools 

Baseline monitoring of compliance with traffic signals by all road users, safe passing behaviour, courteous bunch behaviour, and not riding on footpaths set up by December 2016.

Compliance with the above improves at 10% per year annually, conditional on completion of (7) 

6.Set up ongoing educational programmes that inform people riding bikes about the equipment needed for safe use of roads, such as adequate lighting at nightPeople riding bikes on the roadNZTA, local councils, cycling groupsAt least 95% of people riding bikes are using adequate lights - assessed on an annual basis 
7.Design and implement road signage and intersection design standards that respect the rights of all road and cycleway usersAll road and cycleway users NZTA; local councils; IPENZCompleted by December 2016, for implementation in UCP projects 
8. Implement legislation that (1) provides for minimum passing distances, (2) provides for lower speed limits in urban areas All road users NZTA/central government Pilot programme for minimum passing distances set up by December 2016; new speed limit guidelines published by December 2015


1.4 Scope and application

Many CAN policies and draft policies relate in some way to driver attitudes toward people riding bikes. Bringing them together under one Policy, alongside a recognition of the need for people on bikes to act in a considered and courteous way toward other road users, allows a reader to make links between different aspects of attitudinal change. The aggregation of the various topics has the added advantage of simplifying the review process.


1.5 Definitions

  • Attitudinal change: The process whereby negative perceptions (in this case, of other road users) are replaced by tolerance and a positive attitude.
  • Motor vehicle: Any vehicle powered by an engine. In this context, typical examples are cars (light vehicles) and buses and trucks (heavy vehicles). Not included are low-powered vehicles such as mobility scooters and electric bikes. 
  • Bicycle: Any two-wheeled vehicle propelled by its rider, or by an electric motor of approved power rating. 
  • Cycleway: Any piece of transport infrastructure which includes bicycles but excludes motor vehicles. A cycleway includes infrastructure shared with people walking.


2. Rationale

2.1 Separated cycling infrastructure is now becoming commonplace in New Zealand. Typically, this infrastructure is shared by people on bikes and people walking, but New Zealand lacks a code of behaviour to guide cycleway users in their interactions with each other. In the absence of such a code, a culture of conflict is likely to develop. Furthermore, overseas literature (Cripton et al. 2015) shows a greater risk of injury for people riding bikes on shared as opposed to dedicated cycleways. This Policy is intended to lay the foundation for such a behavioural code. 

2.2 Rather than restricting itself to cycleways, this Policy recognises that road and cycleway users all form part of the same wider community of citizens. Consequently, this Policy incorporates a diverse range of interactions between people on bikes, people walking and people driving motor vehicles. 

2.2.1 Negative perceptions of people on bikes by people driving cars and by people walking was listed by 62% and 28% respectively of respondents in a survey of nearly 10,000 British cyclists about problems in cycling to work. Along the same lines, 16% of nearly 1200 British cyclists saw abuse from people driving cars as a significant barrier to women cycling to work (Cyclescheme, 2015)

2.3 The Lisbon Cycle Chic website records a series of actions by authorities in Lisbon that relate well to the central message of this Policy: "In September 2013, when Portugal's new Road Code was established by decree, Lisbon's municipal government placed discriminatory signs on some traffic signal posts at major intersections. These signs placed the burden of responsibility on cyclists. Opposition was immediate and one night, the Portuguese Cycle-tourism and Bicycle Users Federation (FPCUB), changed the signs and/or placed stickers on the original ones without authorisation, redirecting the message to all road users instead of cyclists only. One year later, the signs were still in place." Other websites record similar programmes encouraging a courteous and constructive approach come from (e.g.) Austria, Hungary, California and Texas.

2.4 The Policy aims to bring together past CAN Policies (and draft Policies) that relate to the general topic of attitudinal change and road user courtesy.

2.4.1 Compulsory use of hi-vis clothing: This was not supported by in the final report of the Cycling Safety Panel, and evidence from Canada (Cripton et al. 2015) indicates no benefit in terms of injury severity from using hi-vis clothing. 

2.4.2 Implementation of 40 km/h speed limit on local urban roads: An overwhelming amount of published literature shows vehicle speed as being closely linked to injury severity. An example published since the Cycling Safety Panel (2014) Report is Cripton et al. (2015).

2.4.3 Cycle skills training: While cycle skills training is not associated with injury severity (Cripton et al. 2015), cycle skills training of school-age children will encourage uptake of cycling from a young age.

3. Related CAN Policies

  • High-visibility clothing Policy (final; 2013)
  • Cycle Skills training for children and adults (draft)
  • 40 km/h speed limit on local urban roads (draft)
  • Cycling two abreast (draft)
  • Cycling on rural roads (draft)
  • Share the road campaigns (title only)


4. Literature cited 

Cripton PA et al. 2015. Severity of urban cycling injuries and the relationship with personal, trip, route and crash characteristics: analyses using four severity metrics. British Medical Journal 5:e006654. Article available from http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/5/1/e006654.full.pdf 

Cycling Safety Panel 2014. Safer journeys for people who cycle. Final report available from http://www.saferjourneys.govt.nz/resources

Cyclescheme 2015. Cycling 10:10 Report - Cycling to work 2005-2025; past, present, future. Report available from http://www.cyclescheme.co.uk/files/Cyclescheme-10-10-Report.pdf 


Sample websites showing road courtesy programmes:

Groups audience: 


Tasman District Council's Cycleway User Policy


With David H on 15 July 2015, by phone

Elizabeth is looking after the behaviour change aspect of the UCF.

Supportive of overall concept - people issue is huge. Especially important is a basic human urge against minority groups, and we can look at the current "bikelash" as part of this, akin to racism.

Marg ?; Road Safety manager at Nelson City Council has been working on psychological motivators. Nelson is keen to address this problem, because they've had some issues.

Asked: where are we going? EC said a massive cultural shift involved, and necessary. The draft policy needs (and is lacking!):

  • A clear vision statement; purpose must be very clear. What are we going to do with the Policy?
  • Needs activities that follow from the Vision and Purpose statements. These activities need to explain how the Policy will drive interactions with each relevant stakeholder


The draft policy has been amended to include the suggestions made by Elizabeth Claridge of NZTA. Still plenty of gaps, though!


General feedback from EC's group at NZTA: all nice ideas, but what next?

Need to work with local groups and think about what each can do in alliance with national level, using their local knowledge. Maybe add another column about roles and responsibilities

Cycle skills training: which locations should we choose first? Realistically, not enough $ to achieve national coverage. Model communities, then schools close to UCP projects

Behaviour change: this is not something that happens quickly. Need to identify "communities for change", focusing at local level one-offs. Talked about potential role for Catherine Elliot (Lincoln University) - most likely at local (i.e. CHCH) level. She could help get things happening in CHCH; commented that current CCC thinking tends to emphasise bult infrastructure