Parliamentary committee gives thumps up to safe kids cycling

The Herald reports:

Kiwi kids are a step closer to being able to cycle on footpaths legally after a Parliamentary committee recommended a change to the road rules.

A Petition in the name of Lower Hutt woman Joanne Clendon asked Parliament to allow under-14-year-olds, their guardians, over-65-year-olds and disabled people to be able to cycle on footpaths without falling foul of the law.

The Transport and Industrial Relations Committee has now agreed the petition should be considered, though it recommended a lower age limit of 12 years old to Government.

The committee also said bells should be mandatory for any bicycle used on footpaths or shared use paths, and that councils should be able to exclude some footpaths from being used for .

Those changes sound sensible.

Under the existing New Zealand Road Rules, it is illegal to ride on the footpath unless you are a delivering mail, or unless your wheels have a diameter of less than 355mm – a rule which effectively excludes nearly all bicycles.

This has contributed to a fall in the number of primary school students using bicycles in New Zealand, from about 12 per cent in the 1980s to 2 per cent in 2014.

Sad.

In Australia, all states allow children under 12 and an accompanying adult to cycle on the footpath. Research in that country had found that footpath cycling had not led to any serious injuries for pedestrians, and that collisions were minimal.

It is a great way to get kids building up their cycling skills and confidence.

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