Footpath Cycling – A Children’s Issue

They’re listening to the kids! Public submissions sought – Footpath Cycling

Families get to have their say on whether their kids should be allowed to cycle on the footpath.

On the 18 September the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee announced that they are inviting New Zealanders to have their say about a request to change the road rules to allow some cyclists to use footpaths.  This follows their hearing of children’s viewpoints presented by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, and some students at Rata Street School.  They also heard from Safekids, concerned parents: Nicola, Greg and the petition author Jo Clendon.

To enable more kids and families have the opportunity to have their say, the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee have requested public submissions by 12 October 2016.  Submissions can be made online via the ‘Make a submission page’ at

What do kids have to say?

The opening of public submissions is a great opportunity for kids to engage in the democratic process and have a say on something that affects them.  Rata Street School and the Office of the Children’s commissioner have both made submissions and encourage more children and young people to have their say too.  

“children make up a quarter of our population.  We believe their voices show us their unique views; they are experts on their own lives, and they should be heard”  

Source: Kathleen Logan presenting to the transport and industrial relations select committee on behalf of the Office of the Children’s Commissioner

In their survey of school children, the Office of the Children’s commissioner found that 71% didn’t know that it was illegal to ride on a footpath.  Of all students surveyed: 70% support a law change to make it legal for them to ride on the footpath.  Their submission states:

 “The fact that so many children in our survey currently cycle on the footpath, without knowing that they are breaking the law, suggests that the current law is ineffective and out of touch with mainstream behaviour.”

These children also clearly articulated their understanding of the risks, care and responsibility associated with cycling on the footpath.

“Yes I agree that children under 14 years of age can ride their bikes on the footpath but they have to look out for people, cars and other things that could hurt someone”

child survey respondent, quoted in the report by the Office of the Children’s commissioner.  And

“I think it is a fine idea as long as they give way to pedestrians and pay attention to their surroundings and what they are doing”

Why is this important?

The Office of the Children’s Commissioner stated that:

 “Learning to ride a bike is arguably a very important skill for children to learn:

  • It’s a fundamental part of participating in society and being safe.  
  • Enables a child to develop independence,
  • To have social connections
  • It helps physical development for sport
  • Active transport by children sets them up for life.”

This was echoed by Safekids in their submission:

“There are significant benefits for children and their communities associated with cycling, including health benefits such as higher daily levels of physical activity, and improved cardiovascular fitness; improved liveability and community accessibility and cohesion”

Health and Safety

Source of diagram: Jo Clendon’s submission to the select committee

Make it legal to teach safe footpath cycling

“Currently, cycle skills trainers are limited in what they can teach children about riding on the footpath, due to its illegal nature. We support a law change to make this activity legal for children, if this would enable cycle skills instructors to actively educate and instruct child riders on how to be safe footpath riders, and also to better manage other risks on the footpaths, specifically the risk of vehicles entering and exiting driveways.”  

Source: Office of the Children’s Commissioner

This was echoed by cycle skills trainer Patrick Morgan:

“The current restriction on footpath cycling means cycle skills instructors (who teach to NZTA guidelines) cannot teach about footpath riding.  This is a nonsense.  If we permit footpath riding, instructors can teach students good decision-making and courtesy.“

In her submission, Kathleen Logan of the office of the children’s commissioner concluded with  a clear quote and the reason they presented their submission, quoting a girl survey participant who said: [We should]

“let the government know that we should let the kids ride their bikes on the footpaths”

Source: Office of the Children’s Commissioner

Further Information

Not every family have time to write a submission, so signing the petition at is an alternative way for them to show their support for changing the law.


Select Committee’s Request for submissions

Information on making a submission

How Big is That?

Petition to Parliament Wording

Current Law:

Current NZ law prohibits cycling on the footpath or adjacent berm with two exceptions:

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).

A standard mountain bike tyre is 660 mm (26”), with children’s bike tyres ranging 406 mm – 660 mm (16” – 26”).