This post was contributed to by a number of people.
The government is currently consulting on the Accessible Streets Regulatory Package, a bundle of rule changes designed to enhance the safety of people using footpaths, bikes, scooters and other active transport modes. The consultation closes at 5pm Wednesday.
One of the more interesting parts of the package is proposal 2, which establishes a national framework for the use of footpaths. We’ve covered this previously but to recap, this change essentially allows people on bikes careful use of the footpath provided they meet certain restrictions:
Our proposed change will allow cyclists to ride on the footpath if:
- they behave in a courteous and considerate manner
- travel in a way that is not dangerous for other people using the footpath
- they give way to pedestrians
- the cycle is less than 750mm wide
- they travel no faster than 15km/h.
In the current situation, the footpath is available for a number of different types of traveller, including: pedestrians, runners, prams, wheelchairs, mobility scooters, e-scooters, skateboards, and Paxster vehicles for postal delivery. When motorised, there are various power limits based on device type.
Currently, however, bicycles are explicitly disallowed except if delivering mail, or when their wheels are less than ~35cm in diameter – the intention of the original rule probably being to allow very young children to ride on the footpath. (Technically, that wheel size includes many adult folding bikes with small wheels, and disallows many bikes used by children far too young to ride on the road with traffic).
While most would agree that it is entirely reasonable to allow very young children the privilege of riding away from traffic, it seems less reasonable that the determinant for this should be whether your child fits a bike with sufficiently small wheels. Although children do enlarge over time, the rate at which they do so is not necessarily proportional to their ability to navigate traffic on our busy streets.
A change to this dangerous situation for young children would be welcome – but in addition to this, the other existing rules feel overdue for an overhaul: they’re arbitrary, dated and not very equitable.
It’s hard not to ask questions like: what’s the fundamental difference between a person on foot, or on a mobility scooter, or on a bicycle, or an e-scooter? How do they all affect other people who use the pavement? Is it fair to force some people onto the road to fend off cars and trucks, based on vehicle type or number of wheels (a powered mobility scooter is heavier, wider, and can go faster than a child on a bike), or their age or height?
Does the current state of our infrastructure allow the safe assignment of different categories of traveller to the appropriate part of the street?
Like many other examples of prohibitionism, is a hard-line approach to people on bikes on footpaths doing more harm than it helps?
While not perfect, the new rules proposed in the package feel like a fairer way of allowing access to the footpath, and they make existing, safety-seeking behaviour legal. Instead of banning almost all bikes from the footpath, the proposed rules recognise that there is not a dramatic difference between someone on a bike, someone on a scooter, someone on a mobility device, someone running, someone jogging with a pram – provided they keep their speed down and give way to pedestrians. The proposed rules recognise that people engaging in all forms of active transport deserve to be able to complete their journeys without having to risk injury or death playing chicken with cars and trucks.
Of course, the question arises, why are we still scrapping over the crumbs of footpath space?
There has been some opposition to these changes, usually preferring a black and white rule to prevent any bikes from being on footpaths.
In a perfect world, every street would have wide and separated space for light or slow travellers (walk, jog, wheelchair, tiny kids on wheels) cruising medium-weight journeys (bike, scoot, family groups, the faster and heavier kinds of mobility aids), and faster heavier traffic. Similar to swimming lanes.
While this sort of strict separation of modes is often ideal (especially with higher speeds and traffic volumes), the agencies charged with building this sort of safe infrastructure have shown themselves to be a very long way from being able to actually deliver. A prime example being Auckland Transport removing part of the Tamaki Drive COVID-19 popup cycling lanes at the most dangerous section, to favour the movement of trucks. If our transport professionals can’t yet bring themselves to make a bit of space for bikes and pedestrians on a six lane road to help stop the spread of a pandemic – we have a very long way to go.
There are very few who cycle who actually want to ride on the footpath. They’re lumpy, slow, and often blocked by parked cars or errant signage. Rather, they do so because it’s often the only safe place they feel safe to be while getting to from A to B – literally a life-hack given the lack of safe cycleways.
Data from NZTA says that there are 7780km of roads in Auckland (as of June 2018). Of this:
- 2942km are rural
- 4838km are urban
Information previously supplied to us by Auckland Transport indicates that the length of on-road, protected cycleways in the region is approximately 10km.
So Auckland has ~4838km of sealed urban streets, and only ~10km of that has protected/dedicated bike path. This means that currently the proportion of the road network that is safe enough for families to ride on without using the footpath is: just 0.2%
If you include painted lanes on the road, you maybe get 6.5% of the network where some space has been allocated – almost always alongside fast traffic and outside parked cars – for people on bikes. That’s not suitable for anyone but the most fearless. So, even in the most optimistic case we’re still talking about 93.5% of our city’s streets with no space set aside for all-ages biking or scooting, whatsoever. Why do people use footpaths again?
By all means, let’s keep advocating for pedestrian safety across the network. But until the remaining 99.8% of our streets are made safe enough for kids on bikes, legalising footpath cycling is a necessary, pragmatic and lifesaving measure. Opposing all footpath riding on principle is literally throwing families on bikes under the bus.
I’d love to be able to bike to work – although not so much that I’m willing to risk my life to do so. I think the only cycle lane I could make use of is the one on Carlton Gore.
I am hearing some in the environmental advocacy sector saying the clever approach here is to oppose the sensible decriminalisation of bike riders using footpaths, carefully, in the absence of safe alternatives, as this will ‘force’ the authorities to suddenly provide bike lanes everywhere.
This is naive on two counts.
First this is simply not possible, certainly more could be delivered more quickly (and cheaply) by repurposing existing traffic lanes, but there is little sign of this being possible yet. But still it will be many years for even a minimal network of separated lanes to be delivered.
Which brings me the second point, to ask; what conditions could cause a change in social and political license to more radically repurpose streets and roads for alternative users?
This is actually easy to answer; more riders. This is exactly what happened in Auckland with PT investment, the strongest case for its increase this century has been the ridership response to early tentative early upgrades.
The will for more PT and more active users has always been there, the real final problem in securing change in investment is belief that the investment will be effective. Yes there are real issues with our evaluation habits etc, but a demand boom generally will override that.
This is the problem. Defeat of this provision, and especially any enforcement of it, will severely limit ridership back to the brave/mad minority. It will do the reverse of ‘forcing’ funding of more bike infra. People will not risk their lives for an abstraction. They will just not ride. Sensibly. Funding will dry up on flat numbers.
Sadly moral arguments have little force in road transport issues. If it did we would not have the roads and vehicles and charges etc, we currently do.
Hi Patrick, instead of “repurposing existing traffic lanes” how about a win/win approach of safer traffic speeds?
NZ recently signed up to the Stockholm Declaration for 30km/h on all urban streets. Such speeds do away with the need to put bicycles & eBikes on the footpath with pedestrians – which NZTA says is an intervention for improving cycling to “Consider last”…
Safe roads in Auckland: a 1 in 500 km event, to borrow an engineering term.
This has to change.
For me if this law change happens or not will lead to no behaviour change:
I will continue to ride, as I do now, on whatever thing prevents my or others’ possible death or injury.
I will continue to reluctantly ride on footpaths where that’s the only safe option. I will continue to always give priority to pedestrians and other more vulnerable uses on footpaths, as in fact I do when they walk in any of our few bike lanes. Cos that’s natural and right.
I will continue to roll slowly and yieldingly through pedestrian phase to get out of the way of the drag race that is the vehicle green light start.
If these adaptations to our cruel roads and streets remains illegal I may get hassled or even arrested. Too bad, it is insane and unnatural to try to legislate people into harm.
The only other option, given our streets as they are, is to give up riding. I’m not doing that. Unless actually locked up, I guess.
The idea the bike users want to use the footpath especially busy ones, is silly, and/or ride fast and carelessly there when we do use them. Not understanding that the law is an arse when it tries to enforce physically risky behaviours on people otherwise doing an ordinary things, or not seeing that me walking and me riding is an equally vulnerable squishy human, is truly weird.
Yeah good on you, urbanista. Trouble is, as a Mum, I’m more likely to just say to my kids, ‘No. You can’t go to your friend’s place. If you walk, you’ll be coming back in the dark. If you cycle, there are too many crazies out there now, looking for someone to hate.’
Gee, don’t know where to begin. And you know what really pisses me off? So many of these “Bigger kids shouldn’t be on the footpath” types are the adults who have NEVER done anything to question car dependency. They’ve NEVER supported investment in cycling. They’ve fought against losing carparks, and they’ve probably spent most of their adult life “DOUBTING” climate change and saying, “Trouble is, you’ll never get people to agree to that.”
Poor kids. Adults shit on them all the time.
The unfortunate consequence of this approach is the further vilification of cyclists on roads.
Often riding on footpaths can be more dangerous due to driveways etc. As can be seen overseas, one way to make on road riding safer is larger number of cyclists on road which this change may reduce.
Based on the detail here, perhaps minimum active transport space (footpath, cycleway, cycle lanes ) widths legislation should also be introduced, perhaps based on width of road.
This is why I still support painted bike lanes even though they aren’t objectively safer – there is an increased perception of safety, which increases cycling and therefore increases safety.
I doubt there would be much if any drop in on-street cycling though by allowing cycling on footpaths. Most people already riding on the street will continue to do so most of the time and only take the footpath when it is especially treacherous. The street is just so much faster and more convenient and in many circumstances it’s safer. I’d wager that this would bring many more people out cycling who don’t now because there is some especially dangerous sections on their trip. These people will now feel comfortable taking the footpath and as their confidence grows, they’ll spend more and more time on the street.
I agree Lewis.
Motorists generally stay out of the painted bike lanes and they give you enough breathing space to feel a lot safer.
And all that is required to add literally hundreds of kilometres of these lanes is removing some on street parking.
Queue howls of outrage and the sky will most definitely fall in (especially on 1zb) but I really don’t see why the council can’t grow a pair of cajoolies and start doing this street by street.
Simple, cheap, and fast.
If it’s important enough to be a route between two suburbs or across town (think the routes with numbers on white shields) it shouldn’t have on street parking.
It should have bus lanes that can be used by cyclists. While not a great solution, it starts to set the expectation that car parking is not a right and sometimes other needs trump it.
Roads are for movement (not just cars) , not storage. We need to accept this if we want to make our cities better. That’s prime real estate given over to drivers as a subsidy.
I agree that arterial roads should not have parking – that space should be given over to transit. However on ordinary suburban streets it’s fine, subject to there being space for car lanes, bike lanes and footpaths at least 2m wide.
Agreed, case in point Seville.
They went from 12km’s to 120km’s in about 5 years by converting parking spaces to cycle lanes.
Problem with NZ & I know this will be controversial on this sub is the RMA. If you decide to re purpose parking spaces as cycle lane’s you need resource consent. To get resource consent you need to consider the effects of all people & companies that will be affected by the loss of the said carparks. You then need to mitigate these effects. However you do this. This is a herculean task. You are looking at 100’s of effected parties for even a small stretch of cycle way. If you fail to consider all affected parties expect to be taken to the environment and/or high court by your local car loving residents association.
Basically its just to hard. Look at all the drama that was caused by the loss of 40 car parks in St Hellier’s.
There’s a fair bit of misapplication of RMA, though. It is only through misconceptions that the provision of parking has been seen as a good and its removal as a negative effect. Whereas if the commissioners were advised by better informed professionals, they could understand that the provision of parking induces traffic, which is a negative effect, and its removal reduces traffic, which is a good.
You don’t need a resource consent to remove parking on a street. It has nothing to do with the RMA and isn’t decided by Commissioners.
“This is why I still support painted bike lanes even though they aren’t objectively safer – there is an increased perception of safety, which increases cycling and therefore increases safety” – you’ll be pleased to know Lewis that well-designed painted cycle lanes are actually objectively safer, with typically at least a 10-20% lower cycle crash rate than without them. One example of the evidence for this was some work I did a few years ago looking at the installation of a dozen or so new cycle lanes in Chch in the early 2000s (it helps that Chch also has very good historic cycle count data).
The difference though is in perceived safety. You’re correct that a proportion of people appreciate a “mere” painted cycle lane and will cycle more. However, you will get an even higher proportion who are comfortable with separated cycleway options (or quiet street treatments) and likely to cycle on these. Interestingly they’re not necessarily objectively safer than a painted cycle lane (the biggest safety challenges are still at driveways and intersections, not mid-block) but a big growth in cycle numbers can lead to a “safety in numbers” effect anyway from greater awareness by nearby motorists.
As we’ve discussed before, Auckland’s painted cycle lanes seem to be narrower than the Christchurch ones you studied.
How big of a factor is the width of the lane, rather than having a kerb or not?
Nobody builds Copenhagen lanes as narrow as the painted lanes on Green Lane.
The data indicates otherwise. While these risks do indeed exist, the rate of crashes occurring -and more importantly – fatalities or serious injury happening, are much lower than assumed. The standout area of danger, and this exists in both on-road and footpath cycling, is crashes at intersections.
Also, the data shows that people who have crashes on footpaths fare far worse on the road. Basically, only a very small percentage of fearless people are both skilled and confident enough to ride on the road in Auckland.
Exactly; if you want people to do something, you have to make it easy and appealing, not difficult and scary.
The improvements to street amenity and safety from providing dedicated, separated cycle lanes, pedestrian paths, traffic calming, wildflower verges, rain gardens, street furniture, tree plantings, pocket parks, etc., will raise the assessed value of each property and pay for itself over time via rates (and help people see what they get for their rates, if it’s on their street).* A good time to do these makeovers would be when pipes need to be replaced (with cables/wires undergrounded at the same time – utilities providers being required to co-ordinate).
The economic activity and incomes generated from doing this will help to stabilise the local economy. Of course, not everyone will automatically have sufficient income to afford to pay a higher rates bill on a higher assessed value, so along with reductions/deferments for hardship, some cross-subsidisation will be required via a general component of the rate to equalise the raising of amenity and safety across, but this is justified by the fact that people living in one neighbourhood still have to move through other neighbourhoods, so they get to enjoy the benefits of the amenity and safety of those other neighbourhoods also.
There’s no (good) reason that every neighbourhood can’t enjoy the ‘quiet leafy suburbs’ feel. Entrenched snobbery seems to be driving the amenity and safety apartheid evident between neighbourhoods, and it needs to be rooted out if we’re truly to be ‘all in this together’.
(* RBNZ has announced that it will be buying local government bonds as well as NZ Government bonds, so the RBNZ can directly finance the up-front costs of this transformation to our urban environment by purchasing local government bonds directly, and holding them and rolling them over on its balance sheet indefinitely – i.e., ‘free money’ for local government also – which can be retired via taxes over time.)
When I used to cycle, I would always ride on the Footpath of Ponsonby Road, it wasn’t the cars on the actual road that was the problem, it was the 100’s of onstreet parked cars. Low and behold the one time I decided to ride on Ponsonby Road some idiot opened his ute door without looking and next thing I’m getting 10 stitches put into my knee and sold my bike the same week. Nearly everyone I know who rides bikes told me they had had the same, being ‘doored’.
Are there any stats of type of bikes injuries and how many stem from parked cars, probably not but that really shapes these discussions a lot better.
Never ride in the door zone. Take the lane (ride in the centre of the vehicle lane). You are legally entitled to do so and it’s the only safe way to ride.
I hope you got the confidence to get back on a bike, and if not yet, maybe soon 🙂
It may be safe if you’re a fast cyclist.
For those of us going at a slower speed, it doesn’t feel safe because the drivers get really annoyed. We have to move into the door zone often, and weave in and out from beside the kerb and around the parked cars.
Please don’t assume we can all be “vehicular cyclists”. We can’t. It’s a partial solution for some people only.
If the speed limit were 30kmh it might feel safer pulling out of the door zone, but at the moment it’s 50 which to a lot of people is 63 or more if they think they won’t get a ticket.
And even if you are one of those that can ride fast it goes against all your self preservation instincts to pull out in front of a big pile of steel being driven by Joe Random who could turn out to be the most courteous driver or a complete nut job who has a passionate dislike for cyclists and is more interested in texting someone as they approach you than your wellbeing.
I’ve had people stop up the road after I flicked the bird because their wing mirror nearly hit me as they went past, then get out and stop themselves from landing a punch at the very last second. Only to be informed later by the police one particular guy had quite a long criminal record.
On the whole most people are good, but there is always one and I always feel nervous pulling out of the door zone into traffic.
It’s okay for drivers to get really annoyed. They’re not annoyed at you, they’re annoyed at the lack of cycle infrastructure. Remember that.
There is no minimum speed limit, only a maximum.
You are 100% entitled to ride in the centre of a road lane at 10km/h if there are parked cars to your left (or any other hazard).
If anyone has a problem with it, they can complain to the local road controlling authority and ask to have those carparks removed.
We wont get very far by either ditching our bikes or killing ourselves for the convenience of drivers.
I like you optimism there Tim.
Question for you – Have you pulled up along side anyone that has sideswiped/tooted at you and suggested that they need to write to the local road controlling authority and ask for a bike lane to be put in?
And the road code advises staying 1m from parked cars. This isn’t enough, it’s 1.5m in the UK.
Indeed, car doors open up to 1m. Add in a safety factor and the width of your handlebars, and 1.5m is a good recommendation.
As standard lane width in NZ is 3.25m, aim for the centre of the lane, basically.
Yup. I do too. Yesterday I dodged a dooring going up Vincent St in the painted bike lane simply because I was right out on outside edge of it. Ute door flung wide open, happily no traffic behind me was able to swerve further. Driver was horrified, it seems from apologetic noise he made, point is that the painted lane is precisely in the door zone, all the way up….
Joe, ouch. Many of us will feel your pain. The “door zone” is the space allocated by default to people on bikes (including kids) on 99.8% of our streets – and it’s doubly dangerous. You’re at constant risk from close passing by drivers at unsafe speeds (i.e. anything over 30km/h), *and* from the danger of a parked driver or passenger opening their door without looking. Or in a worst case scenario, from both.
It’s shocking to confront how thoroughly this danger is designed into a system we all use on a daily basis. Imagine a workplace that risky. Are there any comparable examples in everyday life, in 2020? Is there any other public system that encourages behaviour shift towards such a dangerous context?
As lockdown showed, heaps of people – including families with young children – will bike in their neighbourhoods, and even on the streets, when risk is reduced. This is a massive untapped resource for public and personal health, carbon targets, social happiness and resilience, and children’s freedom and safety. Any city in its right mind would be doing whatever it takes to pounce on the opportunity and ensure this local ridership can continue.
Auckland in particular has designed itself into this corner and is going to need to design itself back out again. Better street layout is the laudable longterm goal, decades overdue and a challenging task. Safer speeds of 30kmh would be an immediate start, relatively easily achievable, especially in an emergency context. And legal, safe and courteous use of footpaths as needed will be a vital stopgap right now and for some years to come.
Also, yes, there are stats about bike injuries. NZTA/ Waka Kotahi’s CAS (Crash Analysis System) keeps track of crashes that are reported to the police, and includes a description of the movement that caused the crash.
There’s a useful public front-end version here (NB only goes up to 2017), where you can zoom in on locations, sort by type of vehicle, etc. http://nzcrash.azurewebsites.net/crashesMap.htm
However, there are two problems with the data. One is that not all crashes make it into the CAS. A piece of NZ research compared hospital admissions with crash reports, and found that only 54% of crashes involving a collision with a motor vehicle appeared in police reports.
The other problem stems from the official definition of injuries that don’t require lengthy hospitalisation as “minor” (this would include dental damage, facial injuries, broken collarbones, etc). As you and many others have experienced, aside from recovery time, even a “minor” injury caused by a careless car user can have a disproportionate impact on your life and your confidence to continue cycling (or walking).
These definitions and numbers really matter. As recently as 2018, for example, Auckland Transport considered serious injury crashes caused by dooring to be “relatively uncommon across the network.” The underreporting factor plus testimony from people on bikes strongly suggests otherwise. You can read more about dooring and bike safety here: https://www.bikeauckland.org.nz/speaking-language-safety/
Until the 1980s/90s there was often space available for cycling out of the door zone but still not in the middle of the lane. Then that space was reallocated to the flush median with zero consideration for cyclists who were now riding in the left hand lane, even though they were in the same location on the roadway as before. Or one wide traffic lane and parking became two lanes and parking without the road getting any wider. It wasn’t just the helmet laws that discouraged cycling in that period after the booms during the oil crises.
15kph is too high for weaving around peds, but too low for long, empty footpaths in industrial areas and along major stroads. My recommendation in the consult was to make the speed limit on footpaths = 10kph only when pedestrians are present.
Why not just say ‘give way to pedestrians’. Example in a wheeled vehicle Vs pedestrian crash the wheeled vehicle is at fault by default.
I’m not a fast runner and I run at just over 10km/h.
I’m a very slow 72 year old runner and my slow jog is 10 kmh.
By the way it is suggested in the article that runners (amongst others) should give way to pedestrians. I would just point out that runners ARE pedestrians.
Although a lot of walkers seem to think that one gives up all pedestrian rights just because one is moving somewhat faster.
Oh GOD this is so important. I’m so upset about people saying “but if you make cycling on the footpath legal this will take the pressure off them to provide cycle lanes”!!
Anyone saying it is obviously not trying to cycle in Auckland suburbia, or is one of the stupid cyclists who thinks they’ll never get hit. Or just doesn’t care.
It shouldn’t be against the law to take the safest way.
I’m one of the people saying that, and I am definitely an advocate for cycle safety and infrastructure in Auckland.
Being able to cycle on the foot path won’t make cycle advocates any quieter, but we’re already less than 4% of the population. It just means our voice will carry even less weight for people who can turn around and say “just cycle on the footpath if you don’t feel safe!”
It’s tough enough to get a handful of carparks removed in order to save lives and ease traffic flow as it is… Once motorists can rightfully say “GET OFF THE ROAD!”, our battle isn’t going to get any easier 🙁
Then I think you should reconsider what you’re saying.
Should my teenage son really be “breaking the law” when he rides on the footpath to his violin lesson in Rosebank Rd, just because you think that’s the best political path to getting change? I’m sorry, but if society hasn’t provided a safe system, treating people just trying to move around their city as criminals is a cop out to ideology.
On what other issues would you pit a teenager against the law just because adults can’t get their shit together to make the changes necessary?
Making sure it remains illegal to do what’s often the only safe thing as a cyclist or escooterer on the rationale that there’s a better transport system to be had, is like:
– Making sure it remains illegal to have an abortion on the rationale that there’s a better society to be had, without rape or the social problems that lead to unwanted pregnancies.
– Making sure it remains illegal to use drugs on the rationale that there’s a better society to be had, in which people don’t need to seek solace or pain relief from drugs.
– Making sure it remains illegal to sleep on the streets on the rationale that there’s a better society to be had, where everyone has a home.
This is hideous thinking.
Just FYI, I submitted in support of making it legal to ride on the footpath.
But we can still say that this will make it more difficult to get proper safe infrastructure built, because it will give drivers even more [false] entitlement to the road.
These two positions are not mutually exclusive.
We just need to make doubly sure that allowing riding on the footpath never becomes an excuse not to build cycle paths.
However, based on our current track record with shared paths, that looks unlikely.
Based on our current track record it is a given that those cycle paths wouldn’t be built anyway.
“we can still say that this will make it more difficult to get proper safe infrastructure built”
Actually, the opposite is probably true.
We know from places where cycling modeshare increased (after safer speed limits were introduced) that this increased cycling led to increased public pressure for safe cycling infrastructure.
So, no, I don’t accept your position. It’s probably the other way around. By allowing people to cycle on the footpath, we’ll get more people cycling, becoming aware of the issues, and putting pressure on for better facilities.
I agree with you, Tim – what appears to be a “safe” option for people on bikes will make it harder to make the case for what is really a safe option, proper protected bike lanes.
I would hate to see the biking lobby score an own goal in this way, but it’s a distinct possibility.
“Being able to cycle on the foot path won’t make cycle advocates any quieter, but we’re already less than 4% of the population” – I’m wondering whether you mean there are only 4% of people who are advocates (maybe…) because there are WAY more than 4% of the population who cycle. The typical proportion who have cycled in the past year in Auckland even is over a third; in Chch it’s half the population. Don’t make the mistake of confusing proportion of total trips with proportion of people who ever cycle. It’s like saying that (say) only 4% of people ever buy a Xmas/birthday gift on the basis that this might be the proportion of total annual spending that is on gifts…
Sure, many of these people don’t bike much, but THAT’S THE POINT – they’d bike more if you gave them a good cycling environment (exhibit A: the traffic-free streets of the past few weeks…).
Thinking about speed limits, why add 15 km/h to the mix of speed limits?
Wellington water front has 10 km/h – Paxter’s 20km/h limit on foot path – 20km/h passing a school bus
What is the normal speed for someone NEW to biking?
Could the 15 km/h speed limit end up being a new tool for suppressing biking?
I think in practice it’ll end up being more a guideline than a rule because the speed is seldom measured.
– The type of cyclist who cares enough to install a speedometer generally isn’t the type who’ll be riding on the footpath if they can avoid it.
– The cops won’t be sitting there with radar guns pointed at footpath users.
15km/h can be easily visualised as a decent running pace. If you’re cycling faster than a fit adult could run then you’re going too fast.
Only takes a few Politicians to demand enforcement 15km/h speed limit
‘hundreds of cyclists were fined each month for not having tail lights or riding on footpaths’
Question: is what normal biking speed is for someone NEW to biking?
Note: I am not talking about existing cyclist.
Sorry not good english
Question: what is normal biking speed is for someone NEW to biking?
I’m not sure what the speed should be. But I think Peter’s right to expect at any stage this could lead to enforcement.
The police are utterly skewed in their priorities – ever tried to get action on dangerous driving on footpaths? I have. Twice. The police won’t take action. Even when the driver admits to the police that they did it, the police won’t press charges or give a fine. Yet they will stop and fine cyclists on the footpath.
It’s sick. And I have no confidence that it’s moving in the right direction.
My few observations during Lv 4 lockdown and now return to “normal” at Lv2:
a) Many drivers return to all roads including those quiet residential roads as “Kings and Queens” and everyone has to make way. I was cycling in a quiet residential road and was pushed aside by a tail-gating ute, whose driver facial expression saying “WTH, get out of my way”
b) Cars are now back at almost normal level in the last weekend. Family riding around our quiet residential streets can no longer be seen.
You need to be very fearless and not afraid of being injured or dying to ride on the roads (back to the old normal). This is simply not acceptable.
My 2 cents on urgent actions needed:
1) Permit cyclists to use the footpath, and widen those which are too narrow (I still can’t understand the logic of 1 to 2m wide lawn and <1m concrete.). It's a short term measure until we have better and safer streets, including better and safer driving behaviour.
2) Slow down traffic speed in residential suburbs (30km)
3) Change our residential suburb street layout maybe parking all on one side, and free up the other side as protected cycle lane.
This is completely to be expected. It’s not that people who drive are brusque, aggressive people… it’s that driving itself makes you brusque and aggressive.
Those people who last week were smiling as the stepped aside to maintain distance on the footpath are back to being a sack of dicks behind the wheel, because of driving.
And still, in many countries overseas, and even in other towns in New Zealand, people still behave in a civilized way when driving a car.
When there are 1.8m high fences that obscure vision, and a car exiting a driveway collides with a bike riding on a footpath, who is at fault?
I hate riding on footpaths but when out cycling with the kids, I would always go first to check for danger.
The footpath user has right of way, so the driver is at fault. Of course being in the right is little comfort if you get hit by a car.
We had a wonderful few weeks cycling and walking along our local road during level 4. I stopped putting on my high viz vest and turning on my flashing lights. Now the cars are back and we know from previous speed monitoring about half of them go faster than the 50km speed limit. So i am back to wearing my high viz jacket and turning on my flashing lights. One of the local areas that is quite dangerous is outside the police station and i always ride on the footpath there. As yet i have not been stopped.
Well cyclists had their 15 seconds of glory. Hope you enjoyed it.
At first glance I would support cycling on the footpath. Outlawing it is a de facto ban on children cycling past their front fence, even with parents. That is one way of ensuring that the amount of people on a bicycle never grows.
This is too messy to capture in simple rules. Most footpaths are completely empty, you could go for kilometres before you actually spot a pedestrian. But only if you’re not near a well-used bus line. Often you have no sightlines for people walking out of their driveway. In town centres it is often too busy to go faster than walking pace. If this is going to work at all it will be regulated by common sense, not by rules.
Data from NZTA says that there are 7780km of roads in Auckland (as of June 2018). Of this:
2942km are rural
4838km are urban
Information previously supplied to us by Auckland Transport indicates that the length of on-road, protected cycleways in the region is approximately 10km.
So Auckland has ~4838km of sealed urban streets, and only ~10km of that has protected/dedicated bike path. This means that currently the proportion of the road network that is safe enough for families to ride on without using the footpath is: just 0.2%
So it will take 537 years at AT’s pathetic 9km/year to have our 4800km of urban streets safe, while overseas cities are doing 70-300km/year
No leadership from the top end of AT
In Japan everyone rides bikes on the footpaths and it works very well.
Unfortunately New Zealand is not Japan. We don’t have the Japanese overwhelming need to be polite and to conform to all the rules.
Is there any research on how dangerous a bike colliding with a pedestrian is at 15 kph? Unless the pedestrian is fragile for some other reason, the rider is likely to come off worse, but at that speed, it seems quite likely that it wouldn’t be trivial for either party.
It seems unlikely to me that at 15 kph, a bike could be manoeuvrable enough or able to stop in time in many of the situations that could occur on a footpath.
I note that much has been made of how much safer it is for children to ride on the footpath, but I haven’t seen any mention of the fact that child pedestrians are probably the group in most danger from more bikes on the footpath.
As a disabled person who is likely to suffer severe consequences from a collision with a bike or an e-scooter, I’m really disappointed that our safety, and that of children and the elderly, is somehow not an important consideration.
Of course it’s important. But I hope you can see that riding on the footpath in places where it’s too dangerous to ride on the road is also necessary. What benefit to you is there by forcing my 14-year-old – or me – to ride on the road amongst the massive trucks on Rosebank Rd?
This is about respecting everybody. And admitting that our current system doesn’t work.
I hope you’ve been submitting in favour of every cycleway project, because to free up footpath space for people who are disabled, this is what’s required.
Many of the walking and disability advocates concerned about this change that I’ve spoken to have NOT been advocating for separate cycling infrastructure. Which is an unsupportable position to take; simply anti-change.
Heidi, you say ït’s too dangerous to ride in the road”, and “forcing … to ride on the road”.
Both of these are choices that are open to you – they may not be good choices, but they’re still available choices (and choosing another mode is another, undesirable, one).
Contrast that with pedestrians on the footpath, who have no other choice (save not going out), and have no option but to accept the consequences of others choosing to use that space.
Rather than just seeing the opportunities for cyclists, it would be good to consider the consequent problems for pedestrians – the flip side of the same coin, sadly largely unacknowledged.
It’s not unacknowledged by me.
I spent a lot of time in my late twenties as a caregiver for my grandmother, who had become disabled. She was delighted by every person on a bike or scooter that she passed. My sister has never walked; has been wheelchair bound all her life. For her, meeting people on the footpath is stimulating and positive. Now I’m caring for my father, getting him active again after becoming almost completely inactive. The dangers for each of these family members are all from cars. Not from the people on bikes using the footpath. I know because I’m out there, walking, feeling the danger along with him.
For these three people, sharing the footpath with others is no problem; it’s far preferable to seeing people having to risk their lives on the road with vehicles.
We are all kids; we are all elderly; we are all disabled. At times.
And we have to fight the car dependency together.
Let’s look at the last paragraph:
By all means, let’s keep advocating for pedestrian safety across the network. But until the remaining 99.8% of our streets are made safe enough for kids on bikes, legalising footpath cycling is a necessary, pragmatic and lifesaving measure. Opposing all footpath riding on principle is literally throwing families on bikes under the bus.””
1. There’s an old phrase: before but is bullshit.
2. Keeping pedestrians (including wheelchair users) is necessary, pragmatic and lifesaving – and pedestrians have no choice about where to walk. How about making 99.8% streets safe for them?
3. Non-pedestrians always have a choice as to where to ride (maybe not a good choice, but still a choice).
4. Using the same overblown emotive rhetoric, allowing vehicles (including powered ones) on footpaths at 15km/h (three times the median footpath speed, but NZTA calls this speed “slow”!) is literally throwing pedestrians under a bike/scooter/Paxster/whatever.
It’s sad that GA’s normal fairmindedness and rationality have disappeared. I hope this is just temporary, and normal service will be resumed asap.
“How about making 99.8% streets safe for them?”
And how long do you realistically expect this to take? Have you also considered that keeping footpath cycling illegal encourages councils to build ‘shared paths’, as the path of least resistance? Is that the outcome you desire?
The proposal effectively makes every footpath a shared path, so no, that’s not what I want.
And the 99.8% figure isn’t mine!
Current situation: many people ride bicycles (and other forms of light transport) illegally on footpaths. This is not going to change if the status quo is kept. It also prevents safety related campaigns around encouraging safe use of these footpaths scenario as to do so would be seen to be giving permission to ride on footpaths. For the same reason, virtually no data is collected on how footpaths are used (volume of users by mode)
Scenario: footpath cycling is made legal. This then allow / encourages agencies to do 2 things – 1) educate about use of footpaths by other users. 2) collect data of mode-share on footpaths. There are already working examples on how to design for different modes based on volumes of traffic. If data (volume or crash data) shows that a footpath is seeing greater use, this then creates the opportunity to use this data to build separated / improved infrastructure to benefit all modes. An example of this is currently in progress in Auckland – https://at.govt.nz/projects-roadworks/northwestern-path-upgrade/
Reminder: keeping the law as it is will not move other users off footpaths.
“Reminder: keeping the law as it is will not move other users off footpaths”- no, but allowing more, faster, heavier vehicles on footpaths will make them less safe than they are now.
I can’t see how anyone would want that outcome.
“I can’t see how anyone would want that outcome.”
You can see about 30 in the comments here and about 61 in Parliament. Allowing cycling of footpaths is a compromise. No one is saying that it’s going to be safer for every single person; however, it will be safer for everyone.
It’s a tradeoff between the safety of the 5 cyclists a year killed in collisions with motor vehicles and the one pedestrian killed in a collison with a cyclist in the last 50 years.
SB: re the statistics you quote (a source would be good), see the paper by Bridget Burdett on Understanding Pedestrian Safety in New Zealand, online at https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5591f57ee4b07952c1a4d8bd/t/58b4c7dd725e25bf6113074e/1488242659802/Burdett%2C+Bridget+-+Paper+26+-+Understanding+pedestrian+safety+in+New+Zealand.pdf, where she says:
“The flexibility of pedestrian route options, combined with a lack of data about where pedestrians are (and are not), means that reliance on the rare and random reported collisions between pedestrians and motor vehicles is a less than ideal way to assess risk.”
“it will be safer for everyone” – that is not true. It will be less safe for the only people who do not have a choice of which bit of roadspace to use, i.e. pedestrians.
By the way, I’m all in favour of children (and their instructors at the time) being able to ride on the footpath: that’s entirely different from their being opened to all cyclists.
This entire thread is you engaging in incredibly poor faith, good luck in your fight to keep cyclists dying.
There’s no field of science which considers a technical option which is life-threatening to be a valid choice. The proof is in the pudding – cycling modeshare for kids cycling to school, for example, has dropped substantially because the option they’ve been given is – in most of Auckland, and elsewhere – next to useless. Children don’t have independent mobility, and their development is stunted as a result.
There’s no overblown rhetoric being used. We have an unsafe transport system. It’s a crisis. Allowing people to take the safest option – but requiring them to do so carefully and respectfully – is the reasonable solution here.
Scaremongering about dangers from bikes and escooters to the most vulnerable footpath users – when the dangers from cars are far higher – is the extremist position.
I hope this is just temporary, and you’ll return to logic soon.
Heidi, use of an impossible statistic (no road and few transport systems are “99.8” safe) and use of the word “literally”‘ when no-one is actually doing that (and use of the word “scaremongering” to refer to what is reality for many people) are examples of overblown, emotive rhetoric.
Allowing people to take the safest option (“for them” is the unstated qualifier) is an excellent idea – but when it makes someone else’s environment less safe we need to think very carefully about it. There is no way that allowing more, faster vehicles to use the the only space pedestrians have will tend to make it less for such people – and they have no such choice. With bikes, scooters etc the footpath becomes a scary place for those who are less agile, with less-acute senses – just the sort of people that any decent society should be looking after.
So let’s make the system safe for all, starting with those who need it most and have no other choice.
So do you think children should choose to ride on the road? Do you think a decent society should look after children?
We’re talking about a group of people who don’t currently have any safe space at all.
That’s not what I’m saying at all. There is a variety of choices available to riders – nobody is “forced” to ride anywhere – but no such choices available to pedestrians (and I’m quite happy for children to to ride on the footpath).
“We’re talking about a group of people who don’t currently have any safe space at all” – that’s pretty hyperbolic – but it does apply to many places people *have* to walk (rather than *choose* to ride), whose situation will only get worse under the proposed changes.
Well that is as close as you can get to advocating for a ban on cycling without saying it out loud.
Don’t you worry: if I was advocating for a ban on cycling I would certainly say it out loud!
I find it sad that many bike people appear to be happy with being fobbed off with a “solution” that does nothing to address the real cycling issue – a lack of proper, protected bike lanes.
“Allowing people to take the safest option (“for them” is the unstated qualifier) is an excellent idea – but when it makes someone else’s environment less safe we need to think very carefully about it.”
You are proposing that we take the safest option for you when deciding who can use footpaths making the environment for people who are cycling far less safe. I agree that you need to think very carefully about it.
It’s got nothing to do with the options for “me” – it’s about everybody needing to be aware that options that appears safest *for them* are by no means necessarily the safest *for others*, and may well have negative consequences for those who have no choice in the matter.
I advocate more for walking than I do for cycling, Mike. I assert that the footpath is already a scary place. So is crossing roads, particularly the slip lanes which should be removed, the missing pedestrian legs, the red light running culture. And the way footpaths suddenly disappear, and are covered in illegally parked cars.
The system is absolutely failing our elderly, our children, our disabled people and anyone who isn’t in a car. But the biggest dangers – as borne out by the statistics – are from motor vehicles. That’s what we need to focus on.
We need to immediately shift the budget into improving the walking environment (eg better surfaces, better crossings, appropriate kerb crossings) and reallocating road space. Plus the low hanging fruit of low speeds, enforcement of parking rules, speed limits and redlight running.
What’s stopping this work is leaders not approaching this as the change agents they need to be to fulfill their legal responsibilities, and drivers not wanting to give up car amenity and budget. Plus insufficient advocacy from the public because people agitate against change, when they should be agitating against the injust status quo.
So what are the interim solutions available until we manage to bring about the necessary paradigm shift and make the necessary changes?
We do need to consider everyone. And your metric of whether someone is unable to make the journey at all is one that is used by engineers working on inclusive access, when deciding, for example, on which device to use. Some devices might be better for people who are blind but worse for people in wheelchairs, for example. It’s a useful metric.
Where we differ is that you think that disabled people have no other choice, but people on bikes do. I’m trying to point out two things:
1/ This isn’t true, and
2/ In most locations, we’re so far from having a functioning system that this is not the metric that’s the most important one to consider.
Taking these in turn:
1/ Many people aren’t allowed to drive. Others can’t afford to drive. Some can’t afford to take the bus. Many need to be able to conserve what money they have for better uses than transport. Walking takes too long for many trips. Being dependent on others to drive them is often not an option; the power dynamics often mean it’s not a healthy option even if it’s technically an option.
Meanwhile we have a climate emergency and a public health crisis. Anyone putting a car on the road in order to not cycle on a footpath to leave it free for disabled users is using faulty logic. They’re making it worse for the disabled person – with their traffic danger, their parking needs, their fumes, and of course, climate change itself affects disabled people disproportionately.
So no, I don’t accept that people who are cycling necessarily have other options – and where they do, they are usually worse for the disabled people than cycling on the footpath is!
If you’re happy to say these people can simply be reliant on others to drive them, the same could be said of disabled people, too. It’s injustice in just the same way.
2/ In many parts of the city, the number of disabled persons out is extremely low. This is a measure of system safety, and the low numbers indicate we’ve got a crisis. For the same reasons, active travel is incredibly low too. People nipping about on bikes on the footpaths will often never pass anybody at all. The metric you’ve used (do they have an alternative?) is irrelevant. People on bikes are not endangering any disabled person because they might not ever pass one.
Keeping this illegal is ideological, targeting a co-victim, and coming from a position of unfamiliarity of what it’s like for people trying to cycle in the sprawl that is Auckland.
The former walking and cycling team had an answer. They would go to hearings and insist that developers build collector roads that had no driveways and enough space to get a wide footpath, separate cycle lane and traffic lanes wide enough for buses. Some other idiot would always want rain gardens and swales. So they would want a collector road wider than many arterials and expect it for free. Regardless of the fact they would never have done that on any of their own existing roads because the costs outweighed the benefits. Oh and because there was no property access the developer would need to build another local road to serve the properties. Maybe the complaints about them is why their team no longer exists.
Reminds me of Stonefields, where some of the streets are there purely for the show.
That makes perfect sense to someone who isn’t car biased. An arterial is just a traffic road, a collector needs to accommodate traffic, cyclists, pedestrians and facilities for local residents including trees and planting. It’s pretty logical that the street that does more might need to be bigger.
Yes it makes even more sense when you are trying to spend someone else’s money as if it has no value whatsoever. They all do something else these days.
It also comes down to expectations.
Opposition against this rule starts from a very dim view on people. A view where cyclists would just ride on at speed, without any consideration for anyone else on the footpath.
In Auckland the responsibility of avoiding cars hitting pedestrians falls 100% onto pedestrians. I had two dozen drivers almost drive over the toes of my child in Ponsonby. Pedestrians waiting on centre lines. Roundabouts. And so on. This is highly unusual in the rest of the world. This is why so many ideas which work overseas will fail in Auckland.
It is quite natural to expect the same will happen when cyclists go on footpaths.
Whatever happened to the good old unwritten rule “don’t be a dick”.
“Opposition against this rule starts from a very dim view on people. A view where cyclists would just ride on at speed, without any consideration for anyone else on the footpath” – entirely wrong, at least from the point of view of the many people that I’ve discussed this with.
“In Auckland the responsibility of avoiding cars hitting pedestrians falls 100% onto pedestrians” – in practice yes, but wrong both legally and morally.
“Whatever happened to the good old unwritten rule “don’t be a dick”” – entirely right!
“entirely wrong, at least from the point of view of the many people that I’ve discussed this with” → so why the opposition? What do they expect to happen then?
The most likely thing on wheels you’ll encounter on the footpath in the near future is already there, it is the Paxsters from NZ Post.
“The most likely thing on wheels you’ll encounter on the footpath in the near future is already there, it is the Paxsters from NZ Post.”
Disagree, it’s a car parked entirely blocking the footpath.
It’s nice to debate how a footpath should be used, but what about urban and suburban streets that don’t actually have one?
There’s some streets in my neck of the woods that don’t have one on either side of the street, despite having been fully suburbanised streets for as much as a century or more. Worse, the council has no plans to build them, because the “active mode” resurgance hasn’t registered with any councillors.
I would like to see central government introduce a rule for all councils that every urban and suburban street must provide at least one footpath on one side the street.
Then the elderly folk who live in the resthome in Ward Street in Taumarunui won’t have to drive their mobility scooters along the road amongst cars when heading to town and back. You would think it’s a no-brainer?
Depends on which streets. In the arterial type streets, yes, but for these smaller streets it is enough to just have a simple low speed roadway with a 30km speed limit. Painting that centre line is a pretty basic error.
Note also how far you have to walk to the nearest intersection. Another really important thing for pedestrians is to not create those 700m long blocks in the first place.
I agree, Geoff. And the only exception should be where there’s no intention of vehicles moving faster than walking pace. So essentially, if there’s no footpath, vehicles should be guests and required to travel at walking pace, giving way to every other user.
With new build, yes to footpaths on both sides of every street, but I’m with Roeland that traffic calming (preferably to less than 30km/h, and with appropriate physical measures) is fine for existing narrow residential streets with little through traffic. And I’m with him on block sizes, too.
Declaration of interest: my narrow residential street has no footpaths, and a 50km/h limit
I think that all suburban streets in NZ should have a footpath. Not having a footpath in suburbs is something that belongs in the American bible belt.
There’s plenty of European countries still building streets without footpaths in cities. A “woonerf” in the Netherlands, that sort of thing. You would avoid having enough car traffic on those streets to make a separated roadway necessary.
This looks pretty good to me…..
I’m completely with you, down to the last couple of paragraphs below point 1.
It is always true that people on bikes have other options. They may not be desirable, and of course one of the worst options is not making the trip at all. Some one using a bike may will almost certainly be able to walk, so that option will still be available to them. Someone who is deterred from walking (and there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that biking on footpaths results in that) has no other options left.
I’d be interested to find out how you know that the number of disabled people out in parts of the city is extremely low. It’s estimated that up to a quarter of people have a disability, and many disabilities are invisible. For instance, being hearing impaired can’t be seen, but it makes a bike coming up behind you at 3/4 times your walking speed all the more scary when you can’t hear it first – and that can be hard for people with good hearing, too.
And sorry, it’s not pedestrians that are targetting co-victims; and this is an NZ, not Auckland, law that we’re talking about, affecting far more people than just cyclists. As for opposition being ideological, how on earth can you possibly know that? Such sweeping generalised opinions are impossible to confirm one way or the other, and generally don’t help with debating the issues.
This refers to your comment at 1221: for some reason it’s not where it should be.
My wife has MS. She was diagnosed back in 2006. After a lot of research, I concluded that cycling is a good way to keep her legs strong, keep her balance skills active and to keep her eye – hand coordination as good as possible. She rides on whatever piece of network she feels safe on – sometimes it’s the road, sometimes it’s a shared path and sometimes it’s the footpath.
Today I submitted entirely in favour of the NZTA proposals. This is for my wife and son.
There is a trivial observation that walking 5 km takes about an hour, and cycling 5 km takes only 20 minutes. Often making cycling a viable option, and walking not a viable option.
I don’t get how you could possibly make that argument in good faith.
The most likely alternative to cycling is driving a car.
Can you please tell me what other options a child or a teenager has? One who isn’t in the privileged-and-polluting position of having Mum or Dad taxi driver at their beck and call?
As I’m sure you appreciate, Heidi, there’s no general one-size-fits-all answer to that. Every individual circumstance is unique to a greater or lesser extent, which is why transport policy has to look primarily at the big picture – looking at individual cases runs the risk of making policy on the worst case, something that policy professionals tend to avoid. But good footpaths, good cycle facilities and good public transport are all part of the solution – if not as widespread as we would like!
That said, a child riding a bike on the footpath is fine with me.
I disagree Heidi. Privilege is having a bus or a train that arrives every 10 or 15 minutes so that they can get home safely.
Being dependent on a parent, because the alternative is waiting in a poorly lit bus stop for half an hour or more, is not privilege. I know this from my own experience as a parent. Enforced auto-dependency affects whole families, especially the young.
Yes. If you missed this one, David, you might be interested: https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2019/05/09/children-limited-by-arrogance/
I was responding to Mike’s statement: “It is always true that people on bikes have other options.” My point is that those who do not even have their parents available to drive them can certainly not be considered to “have other options” as Mike has asserted.
“Some one using a bike may will almost certainly be able to walk”
This is quite incorrect, Mike.
Please enlighten me, Heidi!
I have friends with sore backs who cannot walk but who can cycle. I know a teenager with chronic fatigue whose only option to join in on the usual things his peers can do is to cycle there. If he attempts to walk he gets too exhausted and can’t join in.
I know people who can’t drive, and can walk – except when they have to carry the shopping. Then they can’t walk, and the bus cuts about half of the distance from the supermarket, so is still not an option. But on a bike with panniers, they’re fine.
“there’s no general one-size-fits-all answer” for all these people, but you’re trying to exclude the one that works for them.
“looking at individual cases runs the risk of making policy on the worst case” Here, looking at individual cases highlights the injustice that banning footpath cycling introduces.
Transport poverty? We got it.
Thanks for those examples, Heidi. I don’t deny that that circumstance will exist for some people, which is why I phrased that comment as I did.
But “highlights the injustice that banning footpath cycling introduces”? Even allowing for the hyperbole, footpath cycling (with some exceptions) is currently banned, so no such injustice can possibly be being introduced. If there is any “injustice” being introduced, it’s denying the many people on foot the comfort and safety of a pedestrian-only space, where powered vehicles travelling at over three times the median pedestrian speed are proposed to be introduced legally.
The piece is rightly entitled “Fighting for scraps on accessible streets”, and it is very sad that this ill-thought-out proposal, with likely unintended consequences and a low level of appreciation of its effects on some of the most vulnerable members of society, is such a distraction from the key aim of making streets accessible for people rather than cars.
And “Scraps”is absolutely correct. Fighting hard for the pretty trivial scrap of access to the footpath as if it were the answer to cycle safety (perhaps a bit) and pedestrian safety (certainly not) is sadly a case of misplaced effort. The real enemy is not each other, it’s the vehicle-centric environment that pushes into such unpleasant and destructive corners. We need to be looking at the big picture, working together to further active transport, not fighting over scraps form the motor-vehicle table.
So please can we stick to reasoned discussion, avoiding the hyperbole and the antagonistic remarks – OK?
All major thoroughfares should have either a completely segregated cycleway or, if possible, a cycleway on a parallel street.
A belief that a footpath cycling ban will make any difference in the real world – apart from finger wagging and abuse of children and their parents – is naive at best.
I’ve argued this way :
We share a concern for vulnerable people on footpaths and streets. We agree footpaths are primarily for people on foot and mobility devices.
We think risk reduction is the way to go, not prohibition.
Will a ban work ? No – who will enforce this? (we’d get narking and abuse, no enforcement, and no safety benefits)
So what will help?
30 kmh streets, physical traffic calming, more bike / scooter lanes. Training and education.
Changing the law to align with commonly accepted behaviour – i.e children biking on footpaths.
This will permit NZTA-approved Bike Ready instructors to teach safe and courteous footpath cycling to children – not currently permitted as we can only teach the law.
Analysis of crash stats shows that bike vs pedestrian crashes are very rare. Rubbish footpaths cause way more injuries.
Besides, here’s a few things people encounter on footpaths:
runners, people on mobility scooters, prams, kids on scooters, kids on bikes, roller skaters, e-scooters, adults on trikes, cars on driveways, cars parked illegally, cars illegally driving on footpaths, rubbish bins, seats, NZ Post vehicles and motorbikes, deliveries, pets, signs, puddles, broken footpaths, litter, trees.
Focusing on small kids on bikes looks like punching down to me.
edit: removed by request
Patrick, I agree with much of what you say, though I haven’t met anyone who’s focussing on small kids (happy for them to be on the footpath) – it’s bigger, faster kids (of all ages) that are the worry.
But your last paragraph lets you down, attacking people rather than the genuine concerns that they raise. That’s the bit that’s really sad.
Bigger, faster kids like the one in the top photo?
You’d insert him between the parked car and the truck, as the arrow shows?
Yes? No? What is the age we’re supposed to throw our kids under the truck, Mike?
Mum-of-two: you appear to have missed the multiple times where I’ve said I support kids riding on the footpath.
“Kids (of all ages)” was a reference to adults, as that sort of phraseology general is.
Even as a confident cyclist I cycle on the road generally but there are some parts of my local area that I know well and I will cycle on the path carefully. Generally up steep hills where there are parked cars, fast drivers & I can’t maintain a reasonable speed. In this case I’m going so slow anyway I’m not a risk to pedestrians. The only exception normally was in Lockdown when the road was so quiet.
I’m pretty convinced now that some of our more narrow roads are made more dangerous by people parking up In the path to make more room for cars. In doing so people then travel faster than in the sections where they don’t do this. Also means harder to cycle on the path there with less room. I do sometimes but I hope I don’t scratch the cars by accident, would be easy to do it’s so narrow. Hint hint to people that park like this.
Our overwhelming response to this is that it appears to be a mitigation exercise that is only required because our streets and roads are not equitably designed for all users, and despite data, evidence and global exemplars, priority is still overwhelmingly in favour of private motor vehicle use.
I was impressed by the Abley/Mackie report on Footpath Cycling that NZTA commissioned. It concludes:
“On balance, a rule permitting footpath cycling for those aged 12 and under (and accompanying adults) has merit. It would reflect that many aspects of children’s cognitive processing do not mature until around 11-12 years of age. It would also allow safe footpath cycling to be proactively taught to younger cyclists, with clear expectations of pedestrian priority reinforced, and from a safety perspective it would likely benefit both child cyclists and pedestrians. It would also potentially encourage the design of safer footpath/driveway interfaces, which would also benefit joggers, mobility scooters, mobility trikes, and children on push scooters.
By not allowing adults to legally ride on the footpath, a continued focus on fit-for-purpose on-road cycling infrastructure is more likely. Although many adults will likely continue to use the footpath as needed from time to time, this small lack of alignment between the rule and actual practise may be inconsequential and adequately managed by pragmatic training, education, and enforcement.”
As you know, even when a cyclist dies due to lack of infrastructure, there’s still no “focus” on getting improvements. I’m not sure why you think continuing to allow the police to bring their pro-motorist bias in enforcement will in any way help bring a focus on better infrastructure. And after the recent ebike cop racial profiling and focus on easy-to-ticket over important-to-ticket infringements, we can certainly expect that if the cycling on the footpaths change doesn’t go through, that the police will use the opportunity to adjust policy to aggressively stamp down on footpath cycling.
Even if we get a change in direction from our road controlling authorities, and they start rolling out cycling infrastructure, it’ll take a long time to achieve a safe system on the roadway. Meanwhile, people have a right to try to preserve their own lives, courteously and safely, on the footpath.
“a right to try to preserve their own lives, courteously and safely, on the footpath” rather exaggerates the risks that any individual faces on the road, whatever mode they’re using. It’s more like to make a ride more convenient or feel safer (which is not the same as actually being safer), while ignoring the increased risk to themselves from driveways and intersections – both of them much riskier places to be when you’re on the footpath rather than on the road – and ignoring the increased risk that they present to those on the footpath (who, unlike them, have nowhere else to go).
As various people have pointed out, riding on the footpath does not address the parts of the road where cyclists are most at risk, makes proper cycling facilities less likely (that would be a real tragedy – we desperately need them), and puts others at risk. Disregarding these issues won’t make them go away!