Flashback Friday: Does your mother not let you ride on the road?

We’ve had various guest contributors over the years (my thanks to you all), and a few years back we had a few submissions from Anton Angelo, including this one below originally posted in Aug 2013. I remember the informal way we were biking around post-quake in amongst all the rebuild work, using footpaths if that was our only option. It seems quite pertinent at the moment, given the Govt’s “Accessible Streets” consultation earlier in the year that included, amongst other things, a potential Rule change to allow biking on footpaths (either for all or kids only). Hopefully in the New Year, we should get an indication of which way these rules will go…

Share Nicely. CC-BY Anton Angelo

Recently a Christchurch cyclist told me this story. A workmate of hers approached her, soon after he had started. “Do you remember”, he asked, “shouting ‘Does your mother not let you ride on the road?’ at someone riding on the footpath on Antigua Street about three or four months ago?” My friend thought, and replied, “No, but that does sound like something I’d say”. “Well, that was me”, the new workmate said.

Other than the fact we all say things we may regret in the cold light of day, or even five minutes later, since the earthquake it seems very normal to ride on the footpath in Christchurch. Officially sanctioned, even. In Dunedin, I’ve known friends get ticketed for it. Here, some parts of the official cycle routes encourage you to zip up a driveway, and negotiate a pavement corner or two to get to the pedestrian/cycle crossing. Multi-lane through ways with heavy traffic flows, pavements empty of pedestrians beg to be ridden on. Combined with many legitimate shared paths and a general sense of ‘whatever it takes to get you moving’ laissez faire post-quake, the footpaths are well utilised.

My question is, will that last? A few public cyclist/pedestrian crashes (or run-ins between a bike and labradoodle) will raise the issue of pedestrian – cyclist safety.

So, should we eschew pavement riding, or have we come to realise that footpaths, shared sensibly, are the pragmatic place to ride on occasion?

What are your thoughts about biking on footpaths?

3 thoughts on “Flashback Friday: Does your mother not let you ride on the road?”

  1. As an old bike rider (and a relatively new e-bike rider…) I have often resorted to using footpaths if it is not feasible to remain on the road or I need to cross a very busy intersection (such as the one at the Ferrymead bridge turning into Bridle Path Road). The answer, as always, is being aware of other users and always being courteous. I use the cycleway across the causeway many times a week, often encountering joggers and mothers with prams, many of whom are wearing ear buds or who are on their phones. Slow down, use your bell and ALWAYS say thanks as you pass. A smile helps too. Most people would have no real argument if these few rules were adhered to.

  2. Road rules clearly state that riding on a footpath is not legal in NZ. Done.

    If you can’t/won’t ride on the road, pick a route that you can ride, or offers cycle lanes/shared pathways. And no, a footpath is not a shared pathway.

    The only exceptions in law are for little kids, “wheeled recreational devices” or mobility aids and posties.

    1. It’s not that “little kids” are an exception (there is no maximum allowable age for footpath biking), rather it’s that “little bikes” are allowed – by which they mean anything with wheels <355mm (~14in).

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