Riding two abreast

Riding two abreast


I'm a cyclist and a motorist. It really annoys me to see ignorant cyclists riding two abreast when passing parked vehicles or when doing so impedes the smooth flow of traffic. Unfortunately, it seems a high percentage of cyclists are completely unaware of this road rule.


Be honest now, how many of you were not aware of this road rule?

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Yes, there is a specific ban on riding two abreast when passing parked vehicles. There is NOT a specific ban on riding two abreast when doing so impedes other traffic. It might be sensible (for your own safety) and considerate (to other road users) to ride single file in such situations, especially as many ignorant and intolerant motorists expect it, but it is not actually a legal requirement.

See information for cyclists in the road code for reference, or look at the  Road user rules themselves.

Here is the URL confirming my original post, that it is both illegal to ride two abreast passed parked vehilces AND when doing so impedes other road users.



One point to keep in mind is that riding two abreast may make passing easier for motorists on narrow roads with short sightlines (like those where I live), because it requires a shorter passing distance. Drivers are going to have to take the entire opposite lane to pass one rider safely anyhow. It may also be safer because the driver is less likely to pull in after passing one rider only to nail the other one.


I say forget the law, it doesn't work. Two abreast is fine on some roads but not on others. When riding in a 50k area, do you exceed this limit? Do you ride in a large group at high speed? When driving your car, do you exceed the speed limit, cut corners, cross the center line and fail to indicate? People who do these things shouldn't be on the road. I have ridden bikes, motorbikes, horses and driven cars, (old bombs to fast sportscars) and I have also driven trucks from the smallest to the largest rigs that are allowed on our roads. I have also driven Ambulances and picked up my fair share of road accident victims.

All this has taught me is that the law is stupid. If you ride your bike at high speed or two abreast or in a large group, where it is not safe to do so then you are stupid. Just because the LAW says you can, ask yourself this question, "do I think it is safe to do so?" The law says I can drive a Truck and trailer weighing 44 tonnes past a primery school at 50kms per hour at 3.00pm when the children are pouring out the gate, do I, not bloody likely. So ask yourself the question, "is it safe to ride on this streach of road 2 abreast?" Don't answer, " its legal so I will", try answering, "safe or not safe". That way you will live longer.

it's probably not good to advocate "forget the law" . The road rules are a good starting point. if all road users knew and followed them we'd have safer roads than we do at present. if they all looked out for their own safety and the safety of others we'd be even further ahead.

Hi Stephen

The following is taken directly out of the NZ Road Code/Cycling Rules section

'If you're riding with other cyclists, don't ride more than two abreast. Ride in single file when you're passing other vehicles - including parked vehicles, or when you're impeding traffic behind you.'

I think that the only person here who is half right is you.

I can't find the text you refer to in either the online rode code or the road code for cyclists. but then I might have poor search skills. Care to supply a URL for it?

The published rode codes often mix general advice with the laws without making a distinction. Here's an example from the cyclist road code

"Try to be as visible as possible. Wear brightly coloured or reflective clothing and use lights at night."

The only part of this that is a law is the bit about lights, the rest is damn good advice, but not part of the law. 

Hi Stephen

Here is the requested URL -  





Ah, that's why I couldn't find it. You said it was in the rode code and it's not. The factsheet is a precis of road rules and advice prepared for cyclists. It's not the rode code, and it's not the law. It cuts a few corners here and there and on this point it seems to be causing some misunderstanding of the law.

There is a duty on all drivers of vehicles (whether they're bicycles or cars or 44 tonne trucks) to move to the left at the earliest opportunity if their legal use of the road is impeding other traffic (Rule 2.1).  Bicycles are legally able to ride two abreast except when passing parked or moving vehicles (Rule 11.10). That's not to say it's always a sensible or advisable thing to do - especially as there are road users out there who believe it's illegal.

Hi Stephen

If you're riding two abreast and you're impeding traffic, of course you're breaking the law -

Cheers, Chris

if you don't make an effort to move left and let the traffic past you, assuming you can do so safely,  then yes, you're breaking the law about impeding traffic

Just case anyones still reading this particular thread....

I wonder how the court would classify 'impede' on a four lane 50kmh residentail road with no car parking on the side of the road.  In this case, cars can move to the right lane (with little or no impedance) and pass two abreast cyclists who are not passing parked cars, which is arguably safer than cars passing a single cyclist within the lane.  Almost all of Auckland's Arterial Roads have no or tidal parking, and most are four lanes 50kmh.  I'd hate to have to discuss that with a cop on the roadside thou!

Nobody seems to have raised what the law should be, rather than what it is (or maybe...)

Seems if I *choose* to drive a humvee and take up vast amounts of road space (and volumes of fossil fuels) then that is entirely reasonable, after all I'm driving.

But if I choose to take up far less space and ride next to someone else then that is unreasonable, after all I'm cycling.

Why the restriction on two-abreast when passing a parked car? Given a typical car length it probably means there is some 10-15m when a car may not be able to pass parked car + 2 cycles when they might be able to pass parked car + 1 cycle. At a typical speed how long does that take? Now passing a row of parked cars might be something different, but just one?

And what is a parked car? Is a car parked out of the traffic lane in a parking lane also "parked" for two-abreast riding? Common sense would say no, so the legal answer might well be yes...

Surely all the law needs to specifically say is two-abreast is fine, subject of course to other road rules. And there is another rule on impeding traffic. So far example if you're passing a parked car two-abreast and impeding traffic then pulling to the left as "soon as reasonable" is clearly after you've passed the car!

I was pretty sure there used to be a statement to the effect that you could take whatever road space/position was required for safety, but I can't find it (I may be thinking of the road rules in a developed country ;-)); but that is certainly how I'd advise anyone to ride and do so myself - I will happily block traffic if required for safety, and if riding two abreast helps do that I'll do so as well. I guess someone might take me to Court one day with the argument "if you cannot ride safely in the gutter you shouldn't be on that road" - might be fun and worth the fine :-)

Imagine if this has not been acted immediately before! Such a big difference we are making today. Great work citizens.


henry and https://www.commercialcleaninghamiltonpros.co.nz/