Transport and Industrial Relations Committee: Petition of Joanne Clendon to allow cycling on footpaths

Transport and Industrial Relations Committee: Petition of Joanne Clendon to allow cycling on footpaths

Transport & Industrial Relations Committee: Petition of Joanne Clendon to allow cycling on footpaths.
Cycle Aware Wellington submission

Cycle Aware Wellington is a voluntary, not-for-profit organisation aimed at improving conditions
for existing cyclists and encouraging more people to bike more often. We advocate for cyclists
who use their bikes for recreation and transport. Since 1994, we have worked constructively
with local and central government, NZTA, businesses, and the community on a wide variety of
cycle projects. We represent around 1,500 members and supporters.

We support the proposals.
The proposed law change would affect a wide range of situations, and
reduce some risks while introduce new risks to manage. We feel the overall outcome would be
positive but we’d like to see research about whether the measure would increase cycling safety
and uptake in New Zealand.

Jo Clendon’s petition covers the topic thoroughly, so we have not tried to replicate her arguments
here. We have focused on a few aspects of the proposals that we feel are particularly important.

Measures that we support

Focus on children and caregivers
Footpath cycling should be allowed for children up to age 12, plus their parents / caregivers.
Limiting footpath cycling to children and families is the most effective way to limit the speeds at
which people cycle on footpaths. Keeping footpath cycling slow is the best way to manage the
real and perceived danger to pedestrians.

The petition recommends allowing footpath cycling for children under 14 years old. We think that
12 is a suitable upper age, in line with laws in Australia and with the age that children begin high
school. We think that footpath cycling should be a temporary measure, with the main goal being
the introduction of dedicated cycleways (separate from footpaths) or safe quiet-street routes
around every college and high school.

Excluding adults (except when minding children or vulnerable due to age or disabilities), and
potentially specifying a speed limit, should help protect other footpath users. We’d also like to
clarify the position for parents who want to ride slowly with young children in bike-mounted seats -
they fit within the group of suitable users, and are likely to ride slowly and carefully.

Allow councils to exclude specified footpaths
The most suitable footpaths are, in many cases, already being used by children and parents to
cycle safely. We recognise that some footpaths may be less suitable for sharing, even with care.
These could be footpaths that:
● run alongside safe dedicated cycling space separated from road traffic
● have large amounts of pedestrian traffic, such as in busy city centres
● are particularly narrow or steep, or even have steps
● experience high levels of conflict between different users, especially vulnerable users.

We support allowing councils to exclude specified footpaths in these situations, so that bikes
cannot be used on them. Any exclusions should act as a trigger for councils to improve provision
for cycling in that local area, and to make paths better for people using mobility devices.
Accompany the change with education for people on bikes and in cars

Conflict often comes from one person thinking another is doing something illegal. For example,
drivers may wrongly believe a cyclist is legally required to use a poor-quality cycle path, or
pedestrians may think a badly-marked shared path is a footpath and object to people cycling on it.
For the law change to work well, education about safety and courtesy is important. Already today,
drivers need more support to change their behaviour around driveways. Driveways are often a
source of accidents, undermining the perceived safety of riding on the footpath.

The law change provides another opportunity to educate drivers and footpath users about safety
around driveways, and education about good ways to alert fellow path-users, such as ringing a
bell or calling a greeting, or indeed safe passing when someone wearing headphones may not
hear a warning. Increasing numbers of footpath users could also create a ‘safety in numbers’
effect, helping protect all footpath users whether they walk, bike, scoot, or use a mobility device.

Support for change

The proposal legalises a common behaviour, allowing advocacy bodies, instructors, and the
police to model and expect good behaviour in this everyday situation. Cycle skills instructors can
only teach the law. This means today that they can't teach safe footpath cycling, such as how to
take care near hidden driveways.

Today’s rule is based on wheel size, which fails in two ways. New wheeled devices such as kick
scooters can be used by people of any age, at any speed. The 355 mm wheel-size limit means
footpath riding is confined to bikes used by 5 year olds. This is clearly too early for a developing
cyclist to start using the road, some time before they gain the cognitive skills, strength, speed, and
visual presence to ride safely on the road.

Thank you for taking the time to read and consider our submission.

Nā mātou noa, nā Cycle Aware Wellington
12 October 2016

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