Footpath cycling passes first hurdle

Cycling enthusiast Jo Clendon, with her children Kiri 6, and Max, 9.  She has petitioned Parliament for a law change ...
SIMON EDWARDS/FAIRFAX

Cycling enthusiast Jo Clendon, with her children Kiri 6, and Max, 9. She has petitioned Parliament for a law change that would allow children under 14, and their supervising parents, to cycle on footpaths.

This story was originally published in Newsroom.co.nz and is republished with permission.

A Select Committee has recommended children and older citizens be allowed to cycle on footpaths, while bells will essentially become mandatory for many cyclists. But will these measures improve safety for everyone?

Lower Hutt mum Jo Clendon was 10 when she first began wondering why she couldn't ride her bike on the footpath.

Clendon's petition has the support of many including the New Zealand Transport Agency.
ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX

Clendon's petition has the support of many including the New Zealand Transport Agency.

But it wasn't until her daughter's teacher was knocked off his bike last year that she decided to get serious about cycle safety.

READ MORE:
Allowing kids cycle on footpaths
Cycling mum wants better facilities for cyclists
Feedback wanted on cycle/walking trail between Wellington and Lower Hutt

 
Jo Clendon is known as the “Cycling Mum”.
FAIRFAX

Jo Clendon is known as the “Cycling Mum”.

Thinking of her young children, she approached her local MP and eventually submitted her own petition to Parliament last year asking for those under 14 to be given the right to cycle on footpaths.

It would, she argued, allow them to learn how to ride in a safer environment and encourage regular uptake in an activity that has dropped off drastically amongst young people.

After pondering submissions, the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee unanimously agreed with Clendon, recommending children under 12 (or up to year 8) and their accompanying adults be allowed on footpaths.

Most regular cyclists will at some point come across a shared pathway, especially in larger cities.
FAIRFAX

Most regular cyclists will at some point come across a shared pathway, especially in larger cities.

In their report, they also extended the privilege to people over 65 and vulnerable users such as those with mental or physical disabilities.

Ad Feedback

To mitigate the risks to pedestrians, bells would be mandatory for those using footpaths and shared paths while local authorities could bar cyclists from certain areas if they had a good reason.

Clendon's petition had the support of many including the New Zealand Transport Agency, which commissioned a review into the idea.

It found cycling on the footpath was safer for children until about the age of 12, when their cognitive processing began to mature.

Australia has already adopted the policy. In all states, children under 12 are allowed on footpaths, and in some states the right is extended to adults.

In 2014, Active Healthy Kids Australia reported 10 to 13 percent of children aged between five and 12 cycled to school. In New Zealand, it's just four percent.

Concerns about the proposal largely relate to vulnerable pedestrians.

Some suggested the move would simply transfer the problem from one vulnerable group to another, with those with hearing and visual impairments more at risk of being hit by cyclists on the footpath.

Neil Jarvis, a general manager at the Blind Foundation, says it's a disappointing but unexpected decision.

He praised Clendon for raising a very real issue regarding children riding on roads, but said her solution meant things would get more dangerous for visually impaired people already struggling on cluttered footpaths.

"From our point of view you don't solve a problem by kicking it down the road, so to speak, and create problems for somebody else and that's what we think's going on here, because of the danger to people who can't get out of the way of cyclists who are moving quite fast."

What was needed was better planning and construction of shared spaces that catered for pedestrians, cyclists, and road users.

Similar concerns are likely held by the deaf community, but the National Foundation for the Deaf told Newsroom the issue was not part of their "strategic framework" and not something they would be commenting on.

So what do the cyclists think?

Lobby group Cycling Action Network's spokesman Patrick Morgan was supportive of the change, but doesn't think there will be a tangible increase in cyclists on footpaths.

Many children already rode on footpaths unknowingly, while a lot of parents would not make their young child ride on an unsafe road.

The real benefit would be for road safety, as cycling instructors like himself could now teach children in a safer environment about safe and courteous footpath use.

"It's perverse, I go to a school in Titahi Bay, we take the kids riding on the road and teach them all the road rules. At 3pm the bell goes and most of them jump on their bikes and pedal down the footpath.

"I have to teach the law which is sorry it's illegal to ride your bike on the footpath…and I'm sending a different message from their parents at that point, never a good idea."

Now that the Select Committee has reported back, it will up to new Minister Tim Macindoe, freshly in charge of the Associate Transport portfolio, to make a decision.

The pathway is a legislative change through a land transport rule, but Macindoe says he has a lot to consider before going ahead.

"The risks associated with riding on the footpath are complex and vary according to a number of factors, including the age, experience and speed of the rider, the number of driveways and intersections on the footpath, and the number of pedestrians using the footpath.

"I can appreciate the concerns that have been raised by more vulnerable pedestrians, and I think that any changes in this space will need to be carefully considered and the right balance struck."

Mandatory bells, but what about helmets?

The Select Committee recommends bells be mandatory for everyone riding not only on footpaths, but on any shared pathways.

Most regular cyclists will at some point come across a shared pathway, especially in larger cities, so this would mean riders would need a bell to use them.

But Morgan believes this measure unnecessary, with bells having "as many haters as lovers".

Mandatory laws would likely lead to a rise in "compliance bells", cheap models that would break quickly.

"It's nice to have, it can be courteous to let other path users know you're there but I don't think there's a case for compulsion, most users can call out a friendly 'good morning'."

While not considered by the Select Committee, another common change campaigned for by cycling advocates is the removal of New Zealand's strict all-ages helmet law.

We are one of only a handful of countries to enforce a blanket mandatory rule, with some arguing that the policy discourages cycling uptake.

Many believe there have been no tangible reductions to the rate of head injuries since the law was introduced in 1994, but a recent piece of research suggests they provide great benefit.

While we may see children legally cycling on footpaths soon, don't expect any changes to the helmet law.

Macindoe says there are no plans to do so, as helmets play an important part of reducing the rate and severity of head and face injuries.

Footpath petitioner Clendon has mixed feelings about the helmet issue, complicated by the fact that her husband was once in a cycling accident that could have ended badly.

She says she has no doubt children should wear them - but she has also read the research that suggests mandatory helmets discourage cycling uptake among adults.

"But at the same time, I saw a helmet save my husband's life and it's likely he wouldn't be here without one."

This story was originally published in Newsroom.co.nz and is republished with permission.

 - Newsroom

Comments

Ad Feedback
special offers
Auckland

Poi dancing good for elderly

Poi, a traditional Maori dance, involves weights on the ends of cords being spun in circular patterns.

The Maori dance can help seniors improve their balance and memory, according to a new study.

Wakeboarder towed by seaplane

Brad Smeele, Brant Hales and Jesse Cassrels set new standards to raise awareness.

Wakeboarder Brad Smeele injured his spine three years ago. His friends are going to extremes to help raise awareness.

Auckland teacher shortage will get worse

More than two thirds of Auckland's new primary and intermediate teachers are thinking about leaving the city, a new ...

More than two thirds of Auckland's new primary and intermediate teachers considering moving due to cost of living, survey reveals.

Digger flips, driver trapped

Emergency crews are working to free the driver after his digger flipped over in Flat Bush on Monday afternoon.

Emergency crews are working to free the driver after an incident in Auckland's Flat Bush.

Wellington

Capital's cycle lanes a Kiwi-first

A proposed new contra-flow bike lane on Wellington's Cuba St will allow people to ride both ways along part of the ...

Proposed new lanes will allow Wellington's cyclists to ride against the flow of traffic.

Ticketed in free park

Shane Leach has been parking his motorhome in the free car park since November, but has been ticketed twice by Wilson ...

The tiny car park is a "hidden gem" in the capital. That didn't stop Wilson Parking.

Celebrations timed rugby team out

Masterton Red Star have received a valuable reminder about converting tries in a timely fashion.

With seconds to go, they scored a try. But their celebratory high-fives came too soon - and went on too long.

Do we have hazard fatigue?

Civil Defence says it's important to follow a trusted source for official warnings.

Study finds widespread scepticism of official disaster warnings.

Canterbury

Huts near lake still underwater video

Questions have been raised about Lake Ellesmere not being opened ahead of floods that inundated Lower Selwyn Huts over ...

Questions are being asked about why Canterbury's Lake Ellesmere was not opened to the sea ahead of the weekend's flooding.

Anger at flooding

Southshore's estuary frontage at the weekend.

Southshore residents are angry homes flooded due to lack of flood protection.

Man with a flood plan

24072017 Photo: John Kirk-Anderson/Stuff

. Flooding

When a flood looks likely, Hugo Young starts raising all his belongings off the floor.

With a whisker to spare video

Some of the cats at the planned cafe will be available for adoption.

Plans to open a Christchurch cat cafe are purring along nicely.

Waikato

Parents sell up to treat child video

Moana Forbes admits that Ka'iulani's illness has changed their lives, but they couldn't live with themselves if they ...

A Hamilton couple are selling their home to give their first born a fighting chance.

Death a 'homicide' video

Police tape guards the scene in North Street, Te Awamutu.

Body discovery scream startles couple as they nestle in for prime time telly. 

SH25A closed for days

The slip occurred near Kitahi Road, close to the summit.

Main road over Coromandel Peninsula won't be clear until at least Thursday, though one lane may open sooner.

NZ's worst footpath?

Te Ranga Memorial Drive has an unusual footpath design.

Ten steps forward, one step sideways. Tauranga City Council left defending flexible path twisting up users.

Taranaki

Faull family success

06042017 News Photo ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ.   Saturday big read,  Faull Farms at Tikorangi is one of Taranakis biggest ...

Gavin Faull is one of two Taranaki entries on the latest NBR Rich List.

A virtual remedy

Digital health deputy Janine Maruera photographs Makaiah Nui's tummy as she is held by cousin Tesha Whakatutu,  during ...

A combination of local gumption and modern technology is bringing health care to a town with no doctor.

'Moonshine' madness 

Drunk on home brew whisky or "moonshine" a South Taranaki man assaulted his partner and drove dangerously. (File Photo)

 A South Taranaki farmer was so drunk on moonshine he had little memory of assaulting his partner.

Something beginning with C

240717 News Photo. SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF
Central School in New Plymouth has had the 'C' stolen from its front entrance. ...

Be on the lookout for a missing C. It belongs to Entral School, formerly known as Central School.

Manawatu

Last supper for church video

Bishop's Warden Steve Fowler outside the church building.

Earthquake prone Levin church has been part of the community since the 1890s.

Another gorge slip

A new slip has fallen on the already-closed Manawatu Gorge road.

The closed Manawatu Gorge road is blocked by a third slip that came down this weekend.

Win for developer

Palmerston North courthouse.

Property developer wins case after High Court incorrectly interprets the law.

Flood-damaged paths repaired

Fresh erosion on the Mangaone Stream has exposed more stormwater pipes.

Paths have been left sodden, silted and damaged by floods.

Nelson

Recyclable cups end up in landfill

Smart Environmental manager Yuri Schokking with recycled plastic at the Richmond Resource Recovery Centre.

Almost all our disposable coffee cups are going nowhere near the recycling plant.

Weekend crime spree

The door at the Milton Street Store in Nelson was replaced with a sheet of plywood after a ram-raid attack on the store ...

Another dairy raid caps a spate of crimes across Nelson on a busy weekend for police.

Cadets' voyage of discovery

The Nelson Sea Cadets with LTCOL Josh Wineera, New Zealand Defence Advisor to Fiji and LT Sam Wilson, Military Liaison ...

It was hardly smooth sailing, but Nelson's young sailors learned plenty about theimselves.

Pain relief battle

Yvonne Gill has been using opioid painkillers for 10 years to manage pain from a medical mishap.

 A Nelson woman is angry at doctors for stopping access to strong painkillers.

Marlborough

First look at Kaikoura village video

The North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery Accommodation Village.

Mark von Huben​ normally wears a tour guide's hat when he visits Kaikoura - now he's behind the wheel of a dump truck carting rubble away from slips blocking SH1.

$231m boost for SH1

A slip on State Highway 1 after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake.

New cycleway announced for 60km section of quake-hit highway north of Kaikoura.

Cats suffer anxiety too

Vet Centre Marlborough senior veterinarian Mark Wiseman says some cats have to take anxiety medication long term.

Some of our feline friends are so stressed they need anti-anxiety pills, just like humans.

End of the Manhattan

23072017 News Photo- RICKY WILSON/STUFF
The Manhattan Cafe has been sold after 28 years of ownership by 
Murray and Mary ...

Blenheim's longest-running cafe calls it a day.

South Canterbury

'Lake' consumes farm

Farmer Geoff Wallace on his Hook Swamp Rd property, which is still inundated with water.

Rapidly rising water in a flood-prone area meant a South Canterbury farmer ended up with a trailer load of dead calves.

$500k clean-up bill gallery video

Ashbury Mowers & Heating business in Washdyke had to get rid of chainsaws and line trimmers that had water damage. ...

Cleaning up the Timaru District aftermath storm will come with $500k price tag.

'Tough as teak' ex-AB dies

Tom Lister played eight tests as an All Black against, Australia, France, Wales, South Africa and the 1971 British and ...

South Canterbury's most-capped test All Black Tom Lister dies, aged 73.

Chainsawing through

Ricky Hunter had no way out of his Bouverie St property other than on foot, after a tree fell down onto the driveway ...

In a bid for freedom after the weekend's storm, Ricky Hunter picked up a chainsaw.

Southland

"The culinary world has just lost a gentleman"

Scott Richardson, pictured here in 2015, in his role as a catering and hospitality teacher at Southland Boys' High School.

Well-known Invercargill chef Scott Richardson died this morning in Dunedin Hospital.

'Business as usual'

Aparima College principal Kaye Day. The latest Governmental report on the College said "urgent" improvement in ...

A troubled Southland secondary school is to continue as usual, despite its leadership coming under fire.

Hotel facing potential delays

Invercargill Licensing Trust general manager Greg Mulvey in front of the proposed site of the ILT's new multi-million ...

The Invercargill Licensing Trust has unearthed some speed bumps in its plans to build a new inner city hotel.

Defending champions on fire

Wensley's Fire cyclists from left to right, Nick Barclay, Marty Jillings, Ben Coley and Tai-Anne Blair set off in the ...

The fire service team has confirmed its the fastest emergency service in Invercargill.

Ad Feedback