Last week I spent a few days on the Gold Coast and I wrote about their great new light rail system. While I was there I was also struck by a few other observations – in particular cycling. It started on the way from the airport when I noticed multiple large groups of teenagers all getting around on bikes – many of which were sit-up city bikes rather than BMX or mountain bikes. As this is something you don’t see too much here, it immediately stood out.

I thought that perhaps initially it was just a one off, but the more I looked around the place the more saw people of all ages, genders and body sizes riding bikes. Further, on many of the street corners I noticed a lot of small bike racks, and they most often had a handful of bikes locked up to them. To be clear, in no way am I talking about anything close to Dutch or Danish levels of cycling but it was a difference from Auckland. Note: I stuck to the beach corridor so things might be quite different in the suburbs.

Gold Coast City Bike Racks

As someone who advocates to make Auckland more bike friendly, this intrigued me as to what caused this – especially given Australia is the only other country in the world¹ with a law requiring people on bikes wear helmets.

Now of course the Gold Coast has a couple of things going for it right off the bat, it’s flat and warm which, while not the sole determinant of bike use, certainly don’t hurt. But from the experience we’ve seen in other cities that’s not enough to drive bike use, infrastructure is.

Next I thought I’d look to see what level of bike infrastructure exists, assuming there must be some sort of bike network. So I searched and I searched and to my surprise struggled to find anything. The closest thing to any bike infrastructure was the wide walkway and separate shared path alongside some of the beach at Surfers Paradise – but that’s only about 750m in length.

Gold Coast City Beach Walkway
The bike in the picture was basically an electric scooter with pedals, often driven too fast around pedestrians

Next to the beach walkway the road had these markings. I guess you could call them sharrows but there wasn’t much space for cycling, and I’m not sure why you use it given the walkway above is right next to it.

Gold Coast City Sharrow

The only other infrastructure I saw was very poor on road cycle lanes on the main North-South route – the Gold Coast Highway. By poor I mean a strip of very faded paint – often quite narrow and in the door zone of parked cars. The image below was one of the better locations.

Gold Coast City on road cyclelane

If good bike infrastructure didn’t exist, what was it that was generating the bike use I was seeing. I had to think back to all of the times I’d seen people on bikes and there was one common denominator, they were all riding on the footpath. A quick google confirmed my observation with Queensland allowing people ride on the footpath – as does Tasmania, ACT and the Northern Territory.

As we know, people will ride more if they feel safe, and in the absence of bike infrastructure a footpath often provides a much safer environment than a road does. With the exception of some high pedestrian areas, allowing cycling on footpaths effectively creates an instant network. Naturally the biggest concern is the interaction between bikes and pedestrians, and just how that works in real life is hard to tell, but everyone seemed to get on OK. Unlike on a shared path where the width encourages people on bikes to ride a little faster – and get frustrated by pedestrians taking up the whole thing – a narrow footpath encourages slower speeds allowing for better interaction. Queensland also has a requirement that people on bikes give way to people on the footpath, although I’m not sure how well that is enforced or if it needs to be.

In my view allowing riding on footpaths definitely isn’t a substitute for a high quality cycle network but perhaps it’s something we should consider in the interim, at the very least just for kids to help encourage parents to let their children ride to school.

On that note, perhaps my last observation was the most powerful. From the top of a double decker bus to the airport as I was going to leave we passed a school – I happened to have a seat upstairs right at the front so had a great view and while gazing out of the window I noticed the school had a bike storage area and this is what it looked like.

Gold Coast School Bike Racks

My guess is there are at least 50-100 bikes parked up in this space from kids who have ridden to school. That may not be Copenhagen or Amsterdam levels but seems fairly impressive for this corner of the world, and in the context of what we’re used to seeing in Auckland where very few kids will ride.

What do you think, should people be able to ride a bike on the footpath?

¹Some specific cities/provinces/states in other countries require them but they’re not a requirement for the entire country.

Share this

91 comments

  1. Its effectively legal in that its not really policed (just like running orange lights and not stopping at a stop sign). Sometimes you get some codger telling you off.

    1. I remember regular police ‘blitzes’ being carried out around my school which targetted students riding on the footpath (albeit over a decade ago now). They would tell students they had to either get onto the road or push their bike home. I distinctly recall that people were also ticketed for not wearing helmets.

      1. We had a good 300+ bikes in the stands at my school, and maybe 10 student cars at the most, pre-helmet law. It’s introduction was the single biggest contributer to bike use decline in NZ. It really needs to go, bringing NZ back into line with the rest of the world.

  2. I’d be nervous about letting bikes on footpaths.

    I see quite a bit of it happening in Newmarket and there have been a number of near misses and we just don’t have big wide footpaths with low pedestrian counts.

      1. And the pedestrian will have worse injuries. As anyone that has been hit by a bycycle knows they have many metal edges that can inflict deep wounds let alone the risk of being knocked to the pavement.

        1. But Don what about the injuries to the person on a bike forced to mix it up with the cars and logging trucks? I have yet to hear of any fatality from a person on a bike hitting a person walking. But have we heard of any fatalities between a person on a bike mixing it up on the roads with someone in a 2 tonne tank or an 18 wheeler 50 tonne truck? Regularly.
          This argument is particularly toxic in Nelson right now with people who don’t ride bikes claiming exclusive use rights to riverside paths though the city. I seems to me (and this is directly from a walking advocate) the crucial thing about shared paths is the width. Once it gets to 2.5m or 3m then it suddenly works well for all users.

        2. The point Don is that a car driver can get aggressive towards a cyclist with no physical risk to themselves. Hence it is common for drivers to cut across cyclists or even try and run them off the road. The physical risk to the driver is zero.

          On the other hand a cyclist who bumps into a walker is as likely if not more likely to get injured. They are traveling at speed so they will be injured more hitting the ground etc. The much higher risk means cyclists have to be much more careful. You just can’t aggressively bump into walkers without expecting to get hurt.

        3. I have fond memories of shared pedestrian and cycle paths in Europe. One reason for that was to consideration of the cyclists and the requirement to use a bell to indicate to pedestrians that they are coming up behind them. Cyclists do not seem to realise that pedestrians cannot hear them coming. I was almost mown down by some bloke riding quite fast on Lake Road Takapuna recently. I was just about to step out to my right to avoid a big dog poo on the footpath when this guy whistled past my right shoulder. If I had stepped out a couple of seconds earlier he would have gone right up my back. So, OK when cyclists use a bell, not OK when they don’t. By the way – if any cycle people here know a big bald headed heavily built guy, usually wearing black who cycles southward on Lake Road at about 4.45pm – tell him to cool it. He is a menace.

    1. I tend to agree, as what is being suggested here appears to be transferring the problem from cyclists to pedestrians (I acknowledge the risk is lower).

      I think in the right place it’s OK, I see a couple of young kids biking along the footpath to school each morning and after the initial fright of them sneaking up behind me I’m pleased to see them biking to school like I did rather than getting dropped off.

      However, there would definitely need to be restrictions around town centres and shops as people should be able to step out of a shop without risk of being frightened or hit by a cyclist, even if they aren’t going to be seriously injured.

  3. At the GI Tamaki Cycleway sod turning I bent the ear of Transport Minister Bridges on the helmet law and if they are considering changes to that law (say relaxing it but only for those over 16 years of age) in light of regular medical evidence that compulsory cycle helmet laws aren’t working and have huge side-effects of putting people off cycling as the perception of cycling as a dangerous activity exists as a result.

    He said to me (more than once) “I hear ya” – but no changes t to that being considered”. I then asked him about “well maybe what about asking for the decriminalisation – tell the cops to not actively prosecute adults who are not wearing helmets”.

    His comments, were “we can’t do that!” (despite the cops some time ago decriminalising the possession of small amounts of class C drugs), and I’d say that not wearing a helmet is less of a societal problem than carrying small amounts of dope.

    So, given his attitude to helmet laws and enforcement, can’t see this idea of legalising footpath use ever happening on his watch.

    But no doubt the Transport Minister “will hear ya” if you ask.

    1. The last government and this one both said ‘no changes are being considered’ with the right hand give way rule at intersections, right up until they changed it at relatively short notice a few years ago, so these things can change quite quickly.

      Incidentally the give way rule was going to be changed in 2011 but was put off until 2012 as they were concerned we would be too distracted during a World Cup worrying about injuries to Richie and Dan to be able to concentrate (which is probably fair enough).

      1. They wanted to change it much sooner, but they realised that every council in NZ needed to reasses how much reconfiguration of intersections/lights and lane arrows would be needed when right turns became harder as a result of removing the left turn give way rule.

        Hence why it got put on the back burner.

        As for helmet laws, believe it when I see it, as for law changes here. The “anti” namby-pamby government is anything but that when it comes to this sort of thing. Too namby-pamby by half – in case we hurt ourselves it seems.

        And yet they ignore the impact on population health of all the additional lives lost early which investment in cycling could help tackle.
        While at the same time Health Minister Coleman is trying vainly King Canute style to hold back a wave of “lifestyle” diseases with their lukewarm, at best, approach to tackling obesity – by waggling their fingers at the causes and saying tut tut.

    2. I ride daily.
      I never wear a helmet.
      I regularly ride past a police station or am passed by a police car (est. 2/5 days per week on avg)
      I’ve never been pulled over.

      Make of that what you will.

      1. All its needs is a formal statement from the cops to the effect that, if you are an adult riding a bike safely and are not committing other offences, and/or riding *safely* and courteously on the footpath and/or without a bike helmet on you won’t be ticketed for doing so. But if in doing so you break other laws (red lights?) or cause accidents or be a nuisance then you’ll get the book chucked at you.

        Then we’d remove a lot of the issues.

        1. One problem is how to define”safely”. The Mt Vic tunnel footpath in Wellington is about four feet wide, yet cyclists think it’s okay to zoom past pedestrians. When I yelled at one guy he stopped and said he was “only doing 20k” which I think is too fast in a space that narrow where there’s nowhere to escape. There’s another charmer who likes to blast people with an airhorn if he thinks they are in his way on the footpath. Many cyclists along the waterfront weave in and out of pedestrians at speed and don’t give a ****.

      2. I commute most days of the week, outer inner suburb to CBD and back, for 5 or more years now. I’ve been ‘pulled over’ twice in my time. Once when I was a bit too intoxicated and cycling home through the back streets of Balmoral. The second time whilst cycling home at night, the officer was concerned my rear red light was not too bright enough. After that I bought Blinders. Neither incident resulted in a ticket or anything more serious but cyclists aren’t immune to police inquiry. I always wear a helmet.

      3. Based on talking to the cops I know (although that’s a small sample, and they’re all in West Auckland), there’s no official policy about whether to ticket cyclists, but practically everyone considers it too minor to be worth bothering about (which is fair enough). The only tickets any of them had ever given out were when people were being dicks in some other way (no lights, drunk, abusive, riding recklessly) and happened not to be wearing a helmet.

        This is solely because giving a ticket for not wearing a helmet involves less paperwork than other, more subjective offences.

        I routinely ride without a helmet, and often use the footpath if it won’t inconvenience anyone too much and it provides a benefit to me. No-one seems to care. Frankly, I like living in a country which does not get anal-retentive about minor rules. Compare somewhere like the United States, where cops run regular stings on jaywalkers and prostitutes.

  4. NZ really needs to have a review of the cycling and other road laws. Things like:

    * Cycling on footpaths
    * Cyclists being allowed to treat stops as give ways, or turn left on reds, etc
    * Helmets
    * Low powered bikes
    * Other low powered vehicles such as mobilty scooters, Segways, Hoverboards
    * Driverless vehicles on roads
    * Small driverless vehicles like https://www.starship.xyz/ that could go on footpaths

    1. NZ *is* undertaking a review of road rules as they relate to cycling (thanks to the much-enlarged cycling team now in NZTA); currently the list of items is about 30-40 things being considered and prioritised. Due process is of course never as fast as people would like (not helped by the fact that it is the MoT, not NZTA, who control the Road User Rule). Currently the proposals are grouped into three “tranches”: (1) the “easy fixes” that are likely to be introduced mid-2016 (e.g. allowing for sharrow markings), (2) the slightly trickier ones that may require a bit more thinking about the exact wording and unintended consequences (e.g. priority of cycle paths across side-roads), and (3) the more “controversial” ones that may require further research and ultimately Cabinet approval (e.g. minimum passing distance Rule).

      As you might guess, footpath riding is touched on in the third tranche, although it is currently focused on allowing young children to ride there (effectively legitimising what is already happening).

  5. I occasionally bike to work in Auckland.

    The Gold Coast is flat, Auckland is hilly.

    This basic geographic fact will always hold back biking in Auckland, for most people it’s just too hard.

    1. Thanks, I was just about to say the same.
      My dutch niece was here for 2 weeks last month and she cycles everywhere at home. We offered her our bikes but she said “No way – Auckland is too hilly”. So she walked or bussed everywhere.

      1. So the complete absence of separated cycle infrastructure had no bearing on her decision?

        I take it she is not from Maastricht then? http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2009/10/effect-of-hills-on-cycling.html

        Add to Glen’s list below Trondheim in Norway with 8%: http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2014/10/trondheim-in-norway-how-already.html

        You should read the blog above. It will probably address the next myth about why cycling won’t work in Auckland that you were about to comment on.

      2. UPDATE (footnote?) – yes, I’m aware my contribution is purely anecdotal. Maybe my niece is just a lazy millennial, and having been brought up in a predominantly flat space she won’t cycle on anything else?

        1. I suspect like every other Dutch person I have spoken to in Auckland, she took one look at the street environment and bottled it.

          I don’t blame her. Coming from the Netherlands, our roads must look like absolute chaos for people cycling.

          If she saw nice separated cycle paths like she is used to, I am sure the hills would have become a minor issue she could have dealt with.

          1. In the Netherlands they often have separated footpaths *and* separated cycleways, and then separated bus/vehicle lanes – all in a country supposedly short on land? From what I saw, they take their town planning a lot more seriously.

    2. Hmm, hilly… Just like the 8% who cycle in Bristol for example… http://cyclingchristchurch.co.nz/2015/04/26/cycling-in-bristol/
      Or the 7% who cycle in Vienna… http://cyclingchristchurch.co.nz/2015/07/19/vienna-cycling-on-the-rise/
      Or the 5% who cycle in Zurich… http://cyclingchristchurch.co.nz/2015/08/09/cycling-in-zurich-an-uphill-challenge/

      Hills may be a constraint (even less as e-bikes become more popular), but Auckland could certainly have a higher cycling rate than the current 1-2%

      1. I don’t understand these comments on this thread regards the telling of one persons experience. Are you suggesting our Dutch visitor is wrong and actually cycling but not aware of this?

  6. I think that could definitely work – as you say it will instantly reveal an extensive city-wide network of cycleways, which would play a huge part in increasing the cyclist numbers, in turn further justifying the proper cycleways we need that the naysayers are so adamant is a waste of money. In theory should work similarly to a shared road. The added injury (and shame?) factor of potentially causing an accident on a busy street would no doubt temper the speeds. I feel like the public generally need a bit of help with the idea that cycling in Auckland isn’t just for the aerodynamic lycra-clad folk and this may be the ticket.

  7. I grew up overseas, so I read this article a bit like this:

    “sit up city bikes rather than BMX or mountain bikes” → Duh.

    “people of all ages, genders and body sizes” → Duh.

    “My guess is there are at least 50-100 bikes parked up in this space from kids who have ridden to school.” → Duh.

    To me the context here, plus the fact that most people think that’s normal, is just totally weird. And so was going into a (quite large) bike shop and finding out—a couple of times—they don’t have a single sit up city bike in that shop.

    I think it’s a good idea to have bicycles ride on the footpath. It’s not going to work everywhere, but for instance, on the North Shore it doesn’t matter much as most streets look like a ghost town anyway. And for children, riding on the footpath is pretty much the only option.

    And this entire drama of cars + bicycles sharing the roadway, or bicycles + pedestrians sharing the footpath, that would improve a lot if people would have some courtesy on the street.

      1. I used to know a guy who was standing on the footpath at a bus stop when a cyclist hit him – completely smashed his knee and my acquaintance needed surgeries for the next year or two. And last year a cyclist hit a work colleague on a motorbike, smashing my colleague’s thigh. He needed months off work. The police charged that cyclist with dangerous driving. Cyclists can cause a lot of grief to other road and footpath users. I’d like to see them have licence plates so that they are easier to report to the police.

        1. In contrast to your two examples. I ride on the road all the time. I have been knocked off my bike twice by pedestrians suddenly deciding to cross the road randomly and running straight into me. I had cracked ribs both times. Quoting random anecdotes doesn’t give a true picture of the reality about the state of accidents between bikes and pedestrians.

          1. Yes but cyclists need to acknowledge that they can and do cause a lot of trouble for pedestrians. It’s not all one sided “poor cyclists, cars are evil”. Aggressive cyclists are a danger too.

    1. The NZTA site (https://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/roadcode/cyclist-code/about-cycling/cyclist-responsibilities/) says:

      “If you are on a footpath with your cycle you should be walking with it, unless you are delivering mail or are cycling a wheeled recreation device that has a wheel diameter less than 355 millimetres (normally a tricycle or small child’s bicycle).” – Is 355mm equal to 16 inches?

      More worrying of the attitude of NZTA to cycling, the page also says:

      “It is recommended that young or inexperienced cyclists avoid narrow roads where cars travel quickly.”

      Yes let’s put all the responsibility on the more vulnerable person, not the person driving a tonne of steel who is also supposed to have been trained to operate that vehicle safely. Unbelievable.

    2. 355mm is a little over 14 inches. A few adult folding bikes run 14 inch or 12 inch wheels. I notice the road code doesn’t mention whether this is wheel diameter or wheel plus tire, which suggests fat rubber as a practical work-around, especially on disc brake equipped bikes.

      Most kids bikes have wheels 16 inches and over, so you’re not likely to use this rule once you’re over 5 years old.

      While you don’t see many kids on bikes here, you will see them on Razor scooters, which meet the 355mm rule and don’t require a helmet…

  8. An option would be to allow bikes to use footpaths but give the priority to pedestrians. Many footpaths have very little pedestrian use (in the suburbs especially) and would be a good solution until we have safe designated cycle lanes throughout AKL.
    If we can have shared spaces for cars and pedestrians, surely we can have shared spaces for bikes and pedestrians?

  9. While the concept is worth further investigation, I think too many people see this as an easy solution without thinking through the consequences. So here are a few:
    – Most urban cycle crashes (~75%) happen at intersections and driveways, contrary to the popular fear of cars hitting you from behind. Putting a bike on an ordinary footpath doesn’t address either of those safety problems; in fact generally makes them worse without suitable treatment
    – Putting bikes on footpaths introduces new conflicts with pedestrians and other path users. The chance of a fatality may be less than tangling with a motor vehicle, but that still leads to a lot of potentially nasty crashes.
    – Many footpath environments are poorly maintained in terms of maintenance (e.g. gravel, trip hazards) and design standards (e.g. width, obstructions, sight distance). So they are likely to provide more hazardous riding environments than the average road, even without other users on them. Bear in mind that there are currently about three times as many “cycle-only” crashes in NZ compared with collisions with other users.

    That’s not to say that there aren’t some obvious locations where allowing bikes on the adjacent footpath would make a lot of sense. But typically they are where there are no driveways, few pedestrians, and good sightlines. We can already OK those locations overnight with a shared path sign (yes, I know, there’s a cost…).

    I should note too that Living Streets Aotearoa (the national walking advocacy group) has just been drafting some policy statements and the one on footpaths (not shared paths) makes it quite clear that they do not endorse allowing bikes to ride there. Walking and cycling groups often have to band together to get meaningful traction on sustainable transport issues; having greater antipathy between them (especially when most people walk but few cycle) doesn’t help achieve useful gains for cycling.

    Ultimately I’m not sure that Australia is a glowing model of cycling best-practice to be aspiring to. Gold Coast for example has 1.1% of people commuting to work by bike (2011) – i.e. no better than Auckland.

    1. Came here to say what GlenK wrote re driveway and intersection accidents.

      That’s not to say I’m entirely opposed to the idea, but it has risks of its own. I think making certain footpaths “shared use” could be better, where they are pretty safe.

    2. Well we have to start somewhere.

      A good start is making it feasible for kids to ride their bike to school. In most places that absolutely requires that they are allowed to ride on the footpath. Most streets in the suburbs have green space on either side of the footpath, so as long as people behave (which mostly means cyclists riding slowly enough) I don’t see big problems there. And if bicycle traffic is busy enough to cause issues then probably there is a good case to build a cycle lane on that street.

      But to make this work we should also give a few other things a minimal amount of thought. Like, maybe we should paint zebra crossings instead of building “pedestrian refuges”. Maybe pedestrians should have right of way along streets, like in the rest of the world.


      Roeland

      1. Actually it’s usually more about gravel ON the sealed footpaths (or driveway crossings); particularly if you’re not expecting it, that loss of traction can be a problem. When we investigated cycle-only crashes in NZ 15 years ago the biggest hazard cited in the crashes we studied was loose gravel.

      1. Also, in Qld, they specify areas of paths where bikes cannot be ridden on paths. These places are usually areas the see higher pedestrian numbers such as town centres.

        To me, it seems that most footpaths are fine to ride on safely, as many already do, and to legalise it (with restrictions in busy pedestrian areas) seems beneficial. As rider or pedestrian numbers rise, upgrade to separated facilities.

      2. Add into the discussion that a great many residential streets can be very easily turned into cycle routes that people will happily use and for little overall cost.

  10. I ride a bike and also walk a lot. The biggest issue that I see re riding bikes on footpaths is a safety issue with cars and driveways. With tall front fences on properties there is little vision when a car emerges from a property. As a bike travels faster than a pedestrian reaction time from a car driver is reduced. And let’s face it, a car driver generally isn’t thinking “bikes” when he/she emerges from a driveway. It’s bad enough when walking and a car barrels out of a driveway, let alone on a bike. I’ve had my fair share of incidents at driveway entrances when walking and I’d hate to imagine what it’d be like on my bike. Cars just don’t appreciate ( and that’s being kind) anyone getting in their way when they’re driving. They don’t think “bike” or ” pedestrian”. They just expect the way to be clear for them automatically. And they strongly object to you being in their way! All front fences should be a minimum height IMHO so as to not obscure anyone’s vision. Cycling on the footpath can be hazardous to your health, as is walking at times. 🙂

    1. Some of our “Shared Paths” like Beach Rd or Onewa Rd have this very problem. It’s designated cycleway and pedestrian path, but riding them at anything more than 4km/h is more dangerous than riding on the busy road. Not sure what the solution to that is.

        1. It presumes a cultural paradigm where car drivers aren’t ACCEPTED as having absolute rights to do everything as they please. Like the people who park across footpaths on driveways.And in fact turn out to be plainclothes officers on (non-urgent) duty. Who. simply. did. not. even. think. about. blocking. the. footpath.

        2. A better idea is to encourage backing into driveways and driving forwards out. In almost all cases this is the safest way but I doubt many have the necessary skills to do this.

        3. “backing” is only half the problem. Plenty of people drive forwards out their driveway, across the footpath and are only ready to stop if the lane isn’t clear. They are only looking at the incoming traffic, not for anybody on the footpath (especially not coming from the their left).

      1. Yes I have encountered that problem. I actually once made a submission in opposition to a resource consent due to the height of fences and lack of visibility splays for a property within 50m of a primary school. Both council’s and the applicant’s “transport” experts failed to pick up this issue and basically devoted reams of paper to discussing the effect of half a dozen vehicle movements per day. The applicant subsequently amended the design. Overall, the tall fence issue is a problem for both pedestrians and cyclists and some old rules permitting fences up to 1.8m in height either side of a driveway were increadibly daft.

  11. If cyclist gave warning when over taking and slowed down there would be more tolerance for them on footpaths, but from my experience cyclist’s can be inconsiderate and dangerous to pedestrians and are their own worse enemy when in comes to expecting shared use, they forget on foot you have 360 degree mobility and can turn on a sixpence, that doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s a good idea and do ride on footpaths sometimes but always when passing give a shout and slow down to not much more than walking speed.

    1. Thank you Brian. You speak of my own experience. The footpaths are dangerous enough with illegal cyclists. With out of control children riding legally the footpaths would be lethal.

  12. Maybe we should take a step back and ask why we have all these problems with sharing the road / shared paths between pedestrians, bicycles and cars coming out of their driveway.

    I used to ride my bike on the shared path along Shakespeare Road, Milford. That path is quite narrow, especially for a bidirectional path, at around 2 metres, and that’s without a bus shelter, parking bay or traffic sign in your way. There are also 2 schools on that side of the street. But it’s perfectly possible to ride on that path without problems, as long as everybody uses a bit of courtesy and common sense. Some examples:

    If you’re riding your bike
    • Common sense: If a school bus stops at a school, then often there are going to be lots children disembarking and crossing the path. So slow down and stop if necessary.
    • Common sense: If a pedestrian light at a school gives green light, See above. Probably it’s best to stop and give way to anyone crossing the street.
    • Courtesy: Looking backwards in a car is hard. If someone is backing his car out of a driveway then it’s a good idea to let him pass.
    • Courtesy: Don’t speed past pedestrians. Buy (and use) a bell. In a lot of places a bell is mandatory on a bicycle, for a good reason. (see Bryan’s comment above)

    If you’re walking
    • Courtesy: if you’re walking in a group and a few bicycles want to pass you, make a bit of room.

    And if you’re in a car:
    • Common sense: Don’t back your car out of a driveway faster than walking speed. Duh, people.
    • Common sense: Look for oncoming traffic when opening your door. Teach your children to do the same.

    Figuring out these things is not rocket science. Sharing the footpath between cyclists and pedestrians is not ideal but it would be rather sad if we can’t figure out how to make it work at all.

    1. spot on. To summarise: Chill the f#*k out and slow down – whether on a bicycle or in a car.

      Then we can all get where we are going safely. And only slightly later than if we all rush around like crazy as now.

    2. Lane ways, and shared use areas that we’ve seen in some of the blogs and now being introduced in Auckland CBD are a good example of the share philosophy.
      Which raises the question of why we don’t have just a paved surface in some of quieter suburbs instead of maintaining footpaths as well the road serves everyone.

  13. he vision problem with vehicles in reverse is exacerbated when angle parking is involved.
    We seem to have increasing numbers of SUV’s and van like vehicles on the road which make reversing from angle parking dangerous. I feel that we should adopt reversing into angle parking with the angle in the opposite direction to that of most NZ cities on the basis that the driver has visibility much sooner when there is a tall solid vehicle on the upstream traffic side.
    The other thing about sharing the footpath is that cycle’s are pretty quiet and when you’re a bit hard of hearing they come up on you from behind producing a bit of a surprise. the other aspect of it is the use of young children who like to go fast and who are often not as considerate as you would like.
    I think that we were much more tolerant of the shared use in the 40’s and 50’s when most people had cycling experience.
    Upright riding posture is what i like and I had low line handle bars on my mountain bike till they got crumpled in an accident now I’m leaning forward more with the original handlebars and I find it much harder to look over my shoulder. So anyone with an old handle bars that could help me sit up again I would welcome them.

  14. What’s the percentage of bike riders in Tokyo? Having been there several times I noted that lots of people ride on the footpath: in fact just about everybody rides on the footpath. Footpaths in Tokyo are normally very narrow or non-existent. I used to try getting out of the way of riders coming towards me until a Japanese friend told me to just walk normally and the bike rider will avoid me – worked like magic.
    Of course the Japanese are famously polite; Kiwis not to the same extent.
    I just googled this for cycling in Japan: “25% of students and 16% of workers cycle or walk to work.”
    Too many driveways and poorly maintained footpaths in Auckland imo, to make it work here.

    1. Agreed – Japanese tend to be politer than Kiwis, and the bikes they ride are just plain old bikes, not mountain bikes or racing bikes. Tokyo also has a lot of alleys and small streets that possibly make it easier to get around on a bike.

    2. Footpath cycling was only ever meant to be a temporary measure in Japan – back in the 1970s! In recent years they have been looking at revoking it due to the climbing crash rate. I was staggered by some data I saw that said 90% of cycle crashes there were cyclists crossing side roads vs turning traffic…

        1. The problem is that the existing infrastructure isn’t that great in places. So if you introduce a footpath riding law then overnight you have created thousands of potential new crash spots at every side-road, intersection, etc. Could be slightly mitigated by also introducing a “path user straight has priority over turning traffic” rule – which NZ is conspicuous internationally by its lack of.

  15. Bikes are fine on footpaths – at low speed.

    The solution would be to set an appropriate speed limit (15km/h) for cycling on footpaths, and to give pedestrians automatic right of way. Most people practice these already, so this would just be codifying common sense/practice.

    1. From a pedestrians viewpoint: ‘Bikes are fine on footpaths’…. So long as the rider is walking beside it!
      Just because you have wheels it is not compulsory to be riding them – everywhere.

      1. That works as long as motorists are required to push their vehicles when crossing footpaths as well….

        The vast majority of pedestrian injuries and fatalities on footpaths are caused by motor vehicles.

        1. It is hardly suprising that the majority of pedestrian accidents are caused by cars as there is vastly more cars than cycles at present. These accidents are no doubt mostly caused by cars crossing footpaths however in the case of cycles traveling along footpaths the accident numbers could well be worse if the numbers of cycles was approaching cars. What is of consequence is the rate of accidents not a raw total.

          1. Yeah but kids have to ride on footpaths – the roads are in general too dangerous and drivers in NZ are not very good..

            We can and should make driveways safer – it shouldn’t be allowable to have a driveway with a restricted view of the footpath (due to high fencing) because the risk of a collision is too high. Also, we should be discouraging car parking on our housing spaces anyway so that we can reduce the number of driveways. Land for housing is becoming scarce, and it’s wasteful to require owners to put a mini-road on their properties where in many cases there is space on the street.

          2. It is the rider and driver’s responsibility not to run into or over pedestrians or frighten them.
            We need to implement an hierarchy for/of road users with the pedestrian as number one, then the cyclist, then the bus/public transport vehicle, then the goods service vehicle with the heavy truck being the leader in that category and finally the motor car. Each giving those before it the right of way.
            The law enforcement then needs to assume the lesser important vehicle is responsible for any problem unless they can prove otherwise.
            Is that to idealistic?

  16. Start small. Children allowed on path. Schools to have safety courses. More use will encourage more driver observation, more infrastructure, more cycle curtesey both ways. Bonus is huge reduction in the school crazy rush hour!

  17. What if us as pedestrians annoyed drivers to the point where they have to go slow. e.g pedestrains walk on the roads, cross any where, they’d have to slow down to avoid hitting us they’d start walking to destinations rather than put up with our “dangerous tactics”

    1. I’d like to see 20 kph speed limits anywhere cars are parked along roads, most bikes do 20 kph so we could mix in with the traffic and not have the threat of being knocked of by car doors opening or having to move out into fast traffic flows.

    2. I do that sometimes in the Mt Vic Tunnel. At first I used to always keep left, but cyclists just zoomed past me. Now I find it safer to “take the lane” and walk down the middle of the path. Oncoming cyclists, who I can only see as a silhouette because of the lighting, have to slow down a bit. And those coming from behind just have to ring a bell or call out ‘excuse me’.

  18. Anyone have any comments about Beach Rd stage 2? I have ridden on it most days since it opened. I don’t think there has been a single day when I have not encountered pedestrians on the cycle path, sometimes in large groups too. I have once seen a cyclist on the footpath. I find the signage is poor and the meaning not clear. Contrast this with Beach Rd stage 1 where the design of the path instantly makes it clear which part is for walking and which part is for cycling (signage is not necessary at all). It is very rare to see pedestrians walking on the cycle path here.

  19. If a person can reverse out of a driveway, then they can reverse into it. It’s not that they can’t reverse, it’s simply that they have always done it that way and havn’t even considered changing. It’s probably just a matter of driver education. There is a campaign on television at present about not reversing over your kids, but that problem would not even arise if the motorist drove out of the driveway. I am a long time reverser into my driveway, and have no problems seeing the neighbours’ kids tearing up and down the footpath on their bikes, scooters and skateboards as I drive out. Another thing which could help, is compulsory reversing beepers on cars. Most modern cars have beepers on the inside to tell a driver when they are reversing, one of the auto industry’s more useless gadgets, but put that on the outside and you will have a lifesaver. It is something I have been thinking about for some time, I must get onto it.

  20. As an elderly pedestrian with mobility issues, I totally oppose any changes to the laws that would permit more cyclists on footpaths. Footpaths are for foot traffic, cyclists ideally should have their own cycleway. I do support encouraging more cycle use, especially for children ( for many reasons) but just because some already flout the law does not mean a change is acceptable. I have many times been startled and abused my adult cyclists expecting me to get out of their way, sometimes ever older children are rude, and most ride much too fast. An approaching cycle from the rear is silent and nobody uses bells on bikes any more which would give adequate warning of an approach. I am all for reducing road traffic and encouraging alternatives, but these needs to be catered for independently of pedestrians, who are generally already considered and treated like third class citizens. Many footpaths are not well maintained, roads do better, so to add cycleways to roads would be easier and safe for all. Please stop considering pedestrians as irrelevent, we do much less environmental damage than motorist or even cyclists. Children under 10 are generally acceptable on footpaths, and any accompanying adult can safely ride alongside on the road. The dangers of driveway accesses and small sideroads are all something children need to learn about. However, if bells became a legal requirement on bikes and cyclists encouraged to use them, far less pedestrians would be opposed to sharing a wide path ( not normal size ones) that has specific lanes marked. Pedestrian lives matter too.

    1. I hear what your saying Polly, some cyclists are very inconsiderate of pedestrians especially the more elderly. As a cyclist I sometimes use the path when pretty much forced to by bad road designs catering to motorists only. Other times it’s hard to use the road with my children on the path because of parked cars or been too far from them with reversing cars etc. Hopefully this will change over time and all modes including peds will be well catered for.

      1. thanks Grant for understanding. I know it is difficult teaching children road safety…it should be brought back into the school carriculum really. As an elderly woman I so often feel we become invisible and our voices go unheard…. we feel invalidated often by louder youthful voices. Yes I know not all cyclists are speeding and thoughtless, but it only takes one to cause a nasty accident. Things need to change to suit everyone, for safety and good relationships. Cycle lanes are the answer raather than sharing a footpath.

  21. I agree with Polly. As a pedestrian approaching old age with vision and hearing loss, I am terrified when a cyclist comes up behind me on my blind side, especially at speed. If cycling became legal I would be tempted to give up my daily walk for safety reasons and only use the footpaths for necessity. Is that fair? Polly’s suggestion of separate lanes for cyclists and speed limited to walking pace may make the footpaths safer for pedestrians.

Leave a Reply