Bid for safer footpaths

The Government is looking at ways to make footpaths more pedestrian friendly as new forms of transport such as e-scooters change the way people get around.

It’s looking at:

  • Clarifying that pedestrians and people in wheelchairs have right of way on the footpath
  • Putting in a speed limit of 15km/h (about running speed) and a width limit of 75cm for transport devices used on the footpath
  • Allowing e-scooters and other transport devices to use cycle lanes

“This package looks at how we can make our streets safer for those going from A to B, particularly young children when they are learning to ride bikes, and ensuring our road rules reflect real life,” Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter said.

“How we travel around our streets and footpaths is changing as more Kiwis choose to walk, cycle, and use new forms of mobility like e-scooters.

“New transport technologies like e-scooters are convenient, fun and help ease congestion, but we need to a balanced approach to ensure pedestrians retain priority on our footpaths.

“We expect mobility scooters, including those used by people with a disability, would continue to be used on the footpath as normal, as most models available are within the 75cm width limit.

“A lot of parents have called for kids to be able to cycle on the footpath so they can ride with confidence away from traffic. We want to know whether people support cycles being used on footpaths at low speeds, whether they think it should be limited only to kids under 16, or whether cycling should continue to be banned from footpaths. 

“To keep people safe on the road we’re also suggesting a  minimum overtaking gap of either 1 metre or 1.5 metres, depending on the speed limit, for motorists when passing people riding horses, riding devices like e-scooters, cycling, or walking on roads without footpaths – which we know is a gap most people already try to give.

“Everyone has a right to feel safe on the road and close passes at speed are not only scary, they can be fatal,” Julie Anne Genter said.

Other minor changes in the package to simplify and clarify road rules include:

  • Categorising vehicles to reflect changes in technology
  • Improving the safety of people walking, cycling and using micro-mobility devices by clarifying a number of give way rules
  • Giving  buses priority when exiting bus stops on roads with a speed limit of 60km/h or less
  • Clarifying the powers of road controlling authorities in relation to parking on berms.

The consultation will be open from 9 March to 22 April 2020.

Notes to editors

The ‘Accessible Streets’ rules package consultation document and further information on how to make a submission can be found on the Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency website:

www.nzta.govt.nz/accessible-streets-consultation