Guest Post: Should kids be able to ride on the footpath?

Here’s an interesting guest topic from Jo Clendon:

Do you cycle with kids?  Do you sometimes let them ride on the footpath? Perhaps you’ve seen or heard in the news about my campaign to make cycling on the footpaths legal for children, their accompanying adults, seniors and the disabled.  If not, you can watch or read about it here.

{Editor’s note: recall our previous post about where you can or can’t legally ride your bike}

Should we legalise footpaths for kids to bike on?

This is a topic that has sparked some great debate.  For me, as a parent, it is about keeping our kids safe.  I’ve included the seniors and disabled in there too, because I can see a need there also.  I hope to engage them (or their advocates) to speak on their own behalf and represent their needs.  I know people have some real concerns about whether the footpath is the right place for kids on bikes.  I can understand that.  I just feel it is a better place for kids than the road.  I explain the reasons why and address some of the concerns and objections in this YouTube video presentation.

Jo Clendon and her children riding along the footpath (c/ Simon Edwards)
Jo Clendon and her children riding along the footpath (c/ Simon Edwards)

If this is a topic that interests you you can follow progress on Facebook.  If you would like to understand more in detail, including the research I reference, then I’m happy to share links to that information with you.  This is democracy in action, and there will be people who support this, and those don’t, that’s all good.  If you do support it, please sign the petition at

What do you think of a change to allow kids to legally ride on the footpath?

8 thoughts on “Guest Post: Should kids be able to ride on the footpath?”

  1. I’m keen for change to this law. I often take my 3 year old down to the park on her bike. She rides a tiny wee bike with trainer wheels, and goes literally slower than walking pace. Yet legally she is required to share the lane with traffic (the wheels are just larger than 355mm), which would be ridiculous. Even though I know no police officer would ever pull me up on it, it seems odd that I have to break the law just to take my daughter to the park on her bike.

    1. Thanks for the link – interesting reading! Both Glen’s summary and some of the references.

      It didn’t change my view that my daughter is safer cycling on the footpath than on the road though. One thing Glen touched on in that paper is that deaths scare parents more than minor injuries. I’m personally not that concerned about my daughter picking up a few scrapes and bruises; but I’m terrified of her being killed. And the stats in the paper imply that she is less likely to be killed riding on the footpath than she is riding on the road. I think that’s the crux of why the footpath is the more attractive option for me (and I suspect a lot of other parents), irrespective of what’s going on with relative injury rates between the two.

      Better infrastructure would be great – is that mutually exclusive to letting little kids ride on footpaths? I would’ve thought you could pursue both.

  2. I think there are not many people in NZ who would like to see small kids fined if they ride on the footpath. This includes me as I do agree that most cycle infrastructure is not suitable for most small children. But should we not be focusing on improving the cycle infrastructure and actually make it suitable for small children, people with disabilities and older people? In the Netherlands and quite a few other European countries it is part of every day life to see these groups cycling on regular roads. I am a reasonably experienced cyclist/commuter but I avoid footpaths like the plague. I could not agree more with the objective to make cycling safe for smaller kids, elderly people and disable people but riding on footpaths should not be presented as a safe option, because it is not!

    this is an interesting read I think…

  3. I can understand the concern about kids riding on the road, but the footpath has its own dangers – mainly driveways with very little visibility. We have a fence right alongside our driveway that ends right on the footpath. I cannot see the footpath without driving on to it. I stick the nose out a little for anyone on the footpath to see to give them warning, but I can’t see them. Plenty of driveways are worse and the drivers have to back out. This poses a risk to small kids on small bikes who are hard to see. People do their best, but people also make mistakes. It’s probably better than riding on the road, but by no means safe. Parents would have to teach their children which driveways to be extra careful around.

  4. Footpaths are not safe. But they are safer than the road for children cycling. The comments are valid about cars in driveways backing or driving out across the footpath. At present children are often seen running ahead of parents on the footpath, the cars in driveways are no less a hazard to them! But better than running on the road! Education is the key for all drivers to watch out for children. Also for all children and bike users to ring their bell and to watch and stop for cars in driveways.

  5. I don’t see what the problem is with children under 14 being allowed to ride on the footpath. Here in Tokoroa adults frequently ride on footpaths, and to my knowledge no prosecutions have ever resulted.

  6. A proper risk analysis should be taken to see if cyclists are in fact safer on footpaths if so then it should be allowed there are plenty of situations where cyclists share with pedestrians bicycle pedestrian accidents are never as severe as bicycle motor vehicle this should only be not allowed when there is not a dedicated cycle way and I dont mean the painted line where there is a dedicated totally separated bike lane which provides barrier protection from motor vehicles if these are available then bicycles would be required to use them

  7. I think you have to ask yourself; what is the lesser of two evils? If the child is riding a bike the same speed or slower than a person walking – then it’s a no-brainer. It should be noted that both roads and path both have their own unique set of risks. The argument of hidden driveways would apply to kids riding in the road or footpaths unless the terrace are between the footpath and road is expansive.

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