Mind your manners!
At some point you’ll be riding with walkers, dogs and other cyclists, and possibly farmers and livestock. Use it as an opportunity to show your kids the life skills of manners, courtesy, and sharing.
- Talk about treating others with respect.
- Show them how you return and give friendly greetings.
- Thank others for giving way or making room.
- Enjoy them engaging in conversations with others.
- Help them learn about dog-safety.
- In rural areas, demonstrate the importance of leaving gates as you find them (open/closed), and respecting fences and boundaries.
- Use rubbish bins or take your rubbish with you.
A shared path is one which can be legally used by both cyclists and walkers (and sometimes horse riders). Make it enjoyable for all by courtesy and consideration to other users and practice good path etiquette:
- Use a bike bell or call out to warn pedestrians when approaching from behind
- Ride slowly, courteously and safely
- Be prepared to stop and give way when needed
- Ride on the left of the path (unless on a path where there is a separate cycle and pedestrian lane).
Take great care around intersections with driveways and roads. Children can take longer to assess safety factors, so when a path crosses a road I teach them to stop and check both ways before proceeding. Be hyper aware of driveways, entrances and exits, especially when visibility is impaired by fences, shrubbery and buildings. Teach your children to use their ears and eyes, listening and looking for vehicles at all times.
When using a path, we stop and dismount before crossing a road, as this allows more time and headspace for the kids to determine whether it is safe to cross, and helps their brain learn to distinguish between the vigilance required when cycling versus crossing.
Riding on the Footpath
Unless a path is especially designated as a shared use path, the following rules apply:
You are only allowed to cycle on the footpath if you are:
delivering newspapers or mail, or
you are riding a small wheeled recreational device that has a wheel diameter of less than 355 millimetres (typically tricycles or small children’s bicycles).
I understand that the police seldom enforce this rule, but would do so if there was a safety concern. Providing you are courtesy and careful, and always give way to pedestrians, you are unlikely to get into trouble. However you may be concerned about liability if there is an accident. I am campaigning to change this law – please see Footpath Use and Make it okay.
Cars moving in and out of driveways are the main risk when cycling on the footpath. Drivers are meant to give way to footpath users, but if they do check, they are mostly scanning for walkers, who are slower. More often they just look at the road, checking for cars. Be hypervigilant and treat driveways with caution.
Apply the courtesy and consideration you apply with shared paths, plus a bit extra!
Normally you should get off and walk across. Some special crossings are designed for both pedestrians and cyclists; with additional crossing lights displaying bicycle symbols. You are allowed to cycle across when the bicycle symbol is green, which may or may not be when pedestrians cross.