Footpaths are for Feet - the discussion

Its time to write letters to the Editors and MPs.  See the attached guide at the bottom of this page.  Points to consider for inclusion in letters to editors and MPs concerning footpaths being used by people riding bikes or other wheeled devices.

Now the discusion.

Footpaths for pedestrians - the case to retain dedicated walking space

The issue:

Current New Zealand law does not permit cycling on footpaths or berms, unless delivering newspapers or mail. Mobility devices and wheeled-recreational devices (defined here) and pedestrians are required to use footpaths at all times, where practicable. The rules on footpath use by pedestrians, riders of mobility devices and wheeled-recreational devices are also set out in th the Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004.

The current law is being challenged on two fronts: 

The Make it Okay campaign is advocating for children under 14 years old, and any accompanying adult, to be permitted to ride full-size cycles on the footpath due to concerns for their safety. 

New Zealand Post wants to user Paxter vehicles on footpaths and will need exemptions from Road Controlling Authorities (Local Authorities or NZTA). These vehicles are capable of reaching a speed of 45km/h.

Living Streets Aotearoa believes use of the footpath by cyclists and more powered vehicles would have adverse impacts on pedestrians, particularly the elderly and vision impaired. 

On this page we present the limited research on this issue from a pedestrian perspective. In the second section the focus is on the related issue of pedestrian/cyclist conflict on shared paths.

This material is provided to inform debate on this issse. 

Footpath use - pedestrian perspective


Victoria Walks. Footpaths are for feet. Position statement.

Boulter, R. (2016). Footpath biking: should it be allowedRoundabout: Magazine of the IPENZ Transportation Group, Issue 148: 16.

See also Roger Boulter's website 1 December for more


NZTA report published 20 Feb 2017  Footpath Cycling Rule Options Research

Chong, S., Poulos, R., Olivier, J. Watson, W.L., & Grzebieta, R. (2010).
Relative injury severity among vulnerable non-motorised road users: Comparative analysis of injury arising from bicycle–motor vehicle and bicycle–pedestrian collisions. Accident
Analysis & Prevention, 42(1): 290-296. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2009.08.006
From the abstract: “The significant burden of injury arising from collisions of cyclists and MVs needs to be addressed. However in the absence of appropriate controls, increasing the opportunity for conflict between cyclists and pedestrians (through an increase in shared spaces for these users) may shift the burden of injury from cyclists to pedestrians, in particular, older pedestrians.”

Grzebieta, R., McIntosh, A.M., & Chong, S. (2011).
Pedestrian-cyclist collisions: Issues and risk. Paper presented at the Australasian College of Road Safety Conference, ‘A safer system: making it happen’, Melbourne, 1-2 September 2011.

De Rome, L., Boufous, S,, Georgeson, T., Senserrick, T.,Richardson, D., & Ivers, R. (2014).
Bicycle crashes in different riding environments in the Australian Capital Territory. Traffic Injury Prevention. 15(1): 81-88. doi: 10.1080/15389588.2013.781591
From the abstract:
Conclusions: Fewer cyclists were injured in on-road cycle lanes than in other cycling environments, and a high proportion of injuries were incurred on shared paths. This study highlights an urgent need to determine appropriate criteria and management strategies for paths classified as suitable for shared or segregated usage.


Kiyota, M., Vandebona, U., Katafuchi, N., & Inoue, S. (2000).
Bicycle and pedestrian traffic conflicts on shared pavements

Introduction: “An opportunity to study shared usage street space became available with a revision of traffic regulations in 1978 that allowed the introduction of shared usage of footpaths among cyclists and pedestrians (Oka 1981). The amended regulation allowed Japanese planners and traffic authorities to operate without physical segregation of cyclists and pedestrians. This is a significant aid to authorities that had to deal with a large number of narrow streets where there was no scope for segregation. This paper is an attempt to look at shared operations from user point of view and focuses on aspects of safety perceptions. In particular, the paper investigates danger perception triggers with the aid of field observations to provide a better understanding about factors that threaten the sense of safety of pedestrians.”


Vandebona, U., & Kiyota, M.(2001).
Safety perception issues related to pedestrians and cyclists.
Transport Engineering in Australia, Vol. 7, No. 1/2: 27-34.
Online at: :

Litman, T., & Blair, R. (2010).
Managing personal mobility devices (PMDs) on non-motorized facilities. Victoria Transport Policy Institute.


Tucker, P., Milczarski, W., & Maisel, R. (2014).
Pedestrian injuries due to collisions with bicycles in New York and California. Journal of Safety Research. 51: 7-13. doi:

"Although the rate of injuries to pedestrians from collisions with cyclists has been decreasing, improvements to the cycling infrastructure will need to continue. Bike lanes, particularly protected bike lanes, have been shown to be an effective way of reducing cycling–pedestrian accidents. The results of the current study are consistent with this research. Educational campaigns aimed at cyclists that emphasize the safety of all road users – including pedestrians – will also need to continue to assure that this downward trend in the number of accidents is not reversed."


Focus on needs of older pedestrians

Bernhoft I, Carstensen G. (2008).
Preferences and behaviour of pedestrians and cyclists by age and gender. Transportation Research Part F, 11: 83-95.

Tournie, I., Dommes, A., & Cavallo, V. (2016).
Review of safety and mobility issues among older pedestrians. Accident Analysis & Prevention. 91; 24-35.

Wennburg H, Ståhl A, Hydén C. (2009).
Older pedestrians’ perceptions of the outdoor environment in a year-round perspective. European Journal of Ageing, 6(4):277-90


WHO. (2007).
Global age-friendly cities: A guide. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.
Online at:
What older pedestrians need, p.18


Cycling perspective

Shared paths

Cycling Action Network. (2008). Cyclists on footpaths. First draft.
Online at: (Retrieved 18 June 2016).
Cycling on footpaths should be legal for riders younger than 12 years and their accompanying guardians.”


A Canadian perspective
“I believe that in many situations it is best to accept the diversity of modes and focus instead on managing behaviors to minimizing conflicts by setting maximum speed limits and identifying exactly who yields when facility users interact. For example, there are circumstances in which I believe cyclists should be allowed to ride on sidewalks and walking paths (e.g., slow riding cyclists on an uncrowded facilities, who are willing to yield to other users, particularly if parallel roadways are unsuited to that type of cyclists). In some cases it is best to limit a particular group, such as limiting when and where cyclists and skateboards may use a particular path.
 See my article, “Managing Diverse Modes and Activities on Non-motorized Facilities: Guidance for Practitioners,” ITE Journal, Vol. 76, No. 6 (, June 2006, pp. 20-27; at”
Todd Litman, personal communication by email, 30 May 2016.

Cycling research: sidewalks.


Bromell, RJ (2016) Children on Bicycles – How Safe Are They? Report to Child Injury Prevention Foundation. New Zealand research
Findings from this are found in Wayne Newman’s issues paper for RCA forum (unpublished).
Focus on the abilities and competencies of children 8-12 years old.


Cripton PA; Shen H; Brubacher JR; Chipman M; Friedman SM; Harris MA; Winters M; Reynolds CC; Cusimano MD; Babul S; Teschke K. (2015).
Severity of urban cycling injuries and the relationship with personal, trip, route and crash characteristics: analyses using four severity metrics. BMJ Open. 5(1):e006654, 2015.
Conclusions: In two of Canada's largest cities, about one-third of the bicycle crashes were collisions with motor vehicles and the resulting injuries were more severe than in other crash circumstances, underscoring the importance of separating cyclists from motor vehicle traffic. Our results also suggest that bicycling injury severity and injury risk would be reduced on facilities that minimise slopes, have lower vehicle speeds, and that are designed for bicycling rather than shared with pedestrians.


Haworth, N., Schramm, A. & Debnath, A.K. (2014).
An observational study of conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians in the city centre. Journal of the Australasian College of Road Safety, 25(4): 31-40.
Online at:
Conclusion: “In conclusion, the current study has demonstrated a large increase in cyclists in the centre of Brisbane, more than 20% of whom are riding on the footpath. While riding on the footpath increases the odds of a pedestrian-cyclist conflict, it remains low and factors associated with the danger from motor vehicles contribute to these odds. This suggests that the footpath is playing an important role as bicycle infrastructure in the centre of the city where motor vehicle density is high. Yet the current research and the published literature demonstrate challenges associated with male, risk-taking and young riders interacting with (especially) older pedestrians. Safer infrastructure and lower speed limits have an important role in encouraging cyclists to ride on the road and thus minimise risks and inconvenience to pedestrians and cyclists.”


Haworth, N.L. & Schramm, A.J. (2011)
Adults cycling on the footpath : what do the data show? In Australasian Road Safety Research, Policing and Education Conference, 6-9 November 2011, Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre, Perth, WA.
Online at:


Haworth, N., & Schramm, A. (2014).
What happens when cyclists and walkers share the space? Presented at Walk21, Sydney, 21-23 October, 2014.
Online at:


Haworth, N. (2015).
Off-road cycling infrastructure. In J. Bonham & M. Johnson. Cycling futures (pp.283-302). University of Adelaide Press.
Online at:


Koorey, G. (2005).
The “On-again/Off-again” Debate about Cycle Facilities. Paper presented at 5
th NZ Cycling Conference.
Online at:
Useful data:
‘A recent Cycling Advocates’ Network members’ survey (CAN 2003) found similarly mixed sentiments when this topic was raised; for example:
• With regards to cycling on footpaths, 39% of respondents supported the status quo whereby it is only allowed on signed shared paths, 32% wanted it allowed for children (and possibly their guardians), and 29% wanted it allowed for all.” p.3).

Mobility devices

Jancey, J., Cooper, L., Howatab, P., Meuleners, L., Sleet, D., & Baldwin, G. (2013).
Pedestrian and Motorized Mobility Scooter Safety of Older People. Traffic Injury Prevention, 14(6): 647-653. Doi:


Miller, S;   Molino, JA;   Kennedy, JF;   Emo, AK;   Do, AH. (2008)
Segway rider behavior: speed and clearance distance in passing sidewalk objects. Transportation Research Record, NO: 2073: 125-32,


Behaviour change / enforcement

Okinaka, T. and Shimazaki, T. (2011),
The effects of prompting and reinforcement on safe behaviour of bicycle and motorcycle riders. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 44: 671–674.
doi: 10.1901/jaba.2011.44-671
Abstract: A reversal design was used to evaluate the effects of vocal and written prompts as well as reinforcement on safe behavior (dismounting and walking bicycles or motorcycles on a sidewalk) on a university campus. Results indicated that an intervention that consisted of vocal and written prompts and reinforcement delivered by security guards was effective at increasing safe behavior exhibited by bicycle and motorcycle riders. No differences were observed between vehicle type or gender with regard to engagement in safe behavior.

This highlights that sustained efforts are needed to enforce rules even on a campus.

Hatfield J, Prabhakharan P. (2013).
An investigation of behaviour and attitudes relevant to the user safety of pedestrian/cyclist shared paths. In: 2013 Australasian College of Road Safety Conference, Adelaide, 2013.

NSW Roads and Traffic Authority. Study of bicyclist and pedestrian safety on shared paths. Surry Hills: Taverner Research, 2009.

Fishman, E. (2010).
 minimisation between pedestrians and cyclists on shared paths  
Australian Institute of Traffic Planning and Management (AITPM) National Conference, 2010, Brisbane, Queensland 

Ker, I., Huband, A. (2006).
Getting in the way of (each other’s) progress: managing pedestrian-cyclist conflict on paths. ARRB Conference, 22nd, 2006, Canberra, ACT, Australia 

Hummer, JE; Rouphail, NM; Toole, JL; Patten, RS;   Schneider, RJ;   Green, JS;   Hughes, RG;   Fain, SJ. (2007).
Evaluation of safety, design, and operation of shared-use paths: final report 

Speed reduction benefits

Finally there is evidence that slower speeds streets, particularly in residential areas and town centres would benefit all road users, making it safer for cyclists to use the road, and more pleasant for pedestrians on footpaths adn safer when they need to cross.

Where the rubber meets the road: Reducing the impact of motor vehicle crashes on health and well-being in BC. 2016

Monash 2008

Speed limits: A review of evidence. RAC Foundation, 2012.


Unsafe at many speeds