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Cycling is affordable, fun and a great way to stay fit and healthy - as well as a convenient means of getting around. And the more people who cycle, the fewer vehicles on our roads. The fewer vehicles, the less harmful gases get emitted as well as less traffic noise and pollution.

An important thing to remember is, that as a road user, you must follow the road rules and you must also wear an approved safety helmet.

Cycling smart

Cycling requires a certain amount of skill. If you’re not experienced at riding in traffic, take the time to build your confidence on quieter roads. Practice your skills and plan your route to make use of cycle lanes or streets with less traffic and speeds of under 50km/h. If possible, find an experienced cycling friend or colleague to ride with.

We have some resources that can help build your cycling confidence and skills:

Motorists may not always see you

Even though you can see motorists – often they may not see you on the road. Remember to look around as you ride. Before manoeuvring, make eye contact with the oncoming driver or the driver of the car following you. Eye contact ensures that they've seen you and will be more likely to react to your signalling and accommodate your movements on the road. You need to take even more precautions at night or in low light conditions – make sure you have your lights on and are wearing hi-visibility gear.

Rules to follow when cycling

  • Wear an approved safety helmet. Always fasten it securely, following the manufacturer's instructions.

  • Wear brightly coloured or reflective clothing when cycling – you'll be easier to see.

  • Use cycle paths or lanes, where provided. Where there is no cycle path, ride on the road and keep as far left as you safely can.

  • Only ride on the footpath if you’re delivering newspapers, mail or leaflets, or there is a sign indicating the footpath is a shared pedestrian and cycle path.

  • At intersections, follow the rules for motor vehicles, or get off your cycle and walk across.

  • If space allows, you can ride alongside another cyclist or moped. You must not ride alongside a car, truck or other motor vehicle.

  • Ride in single file if passing another vehicle.

  • Give a hand signal at least three seconds before stopping or turning.

  • Only carry a pillion passenger on your cycle if you have a pillion seat and footrest. If you’re carrying a child, make sure the pillion seat protects the child's legs from the wheels.

  • You must not leave a cycle blocking a footpath.

  • You can tow a trailer with your cycle, but you can’t tow any other sort of vehicle. Your cycle can’t be towed by another vehicle.

  • Ride with lights on when it’s dark (from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise) or at other times of poor visibility, eg when it’s foggy.

  • Keep your cycle in good working condition.

  • If you carry a load it must be secure, mustn’t touch the ground and mustn’t extend more than one metre in front of or behind the wheels, or half a metre (50cm) on either side (from the centre of the cycle).

Learn more about the rules you need to follow in The official New Zealand road code.

Safety helmets

Wearing an approved safety helmet dramatically reduces the risk of a skull fracture if your head hits an object or the road, which is why the law requires you to wear one. A helmet also reduces your chance of getting concussion and protects your head from cuts and scrapes.

Your cycle helmet must:

  • meet an approved standard

  • be securely fastened.

Check that your helmet is the right size. It should fit snugly on your head with a minimum use of pads. It’s not a good idea to buy a child a helmet that they will ‘grow into’. 

If your cycle helmet gets damaged, replace it with a new one.

Please note that if a police officer stops you and asks to inspect your helmet, you must give it to them.

The approved standards stickers are:

Complies with standard ASTM F1447-2006 

Complies with standards AS/NZS 2063:2008, NZS 5439 or AS 2063.2

Complies with standard Snell B90 or B95 

Complies with European standard EN 1078.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission's bicycle helmet safety standard is also approved.

Legal requirements for your bike

  •  Brakes on front and back wheels (just on the back if it was made before 1 January 1988).
  • A rear reflector visible from 100 metres when light shines on it.

  • If you want to ride your cycle on the road during the hours of darkness, it must  have:

    • one or two white or amber headlights that can be seen from a distance of 100 metres (one of these headlights may flash) 
    • one or more red rear facing lights that can be seen from a distance of 100 metres  (this may be steady or flashing), and
    • pedal retroreflectors on the forward and rearward facing surfaces of each pedal (or if the bike does not have these the cyclist must be wearing reflective material).

Using motorised cycles

If you have a motorised cycle, there are requirements for where and how you can use it. The requirements depend on the power rating of your cycle and the engine type. Find out more about low-powered vehicles and the requirements that apply.

Cycling to work

Cycling to work is a great way to fit exercise into a busy day as well as saving you money and being kinder on the environment. Most people can cycle a 5–8km trip in 30 minutes. Too far to cycle? You may be able to combine cycling as one part of your commute. 

Want to know more about cycling on our roads?

Find out more about:

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution New Zealand Licence

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