Cycle-only paths are available for the exclusive use of cyclists and are therefore different to shared paths, which include other users such as pedestrians. Note however that the legal definition for cycle path is ‘part of the road that is physically separated from the roadway that is intended for the use of cyclists, but which may be used also by pedestrians.’ (Land Transport Rule: Traffic Control Devices 2004 definition(external link))
In this guide, cycle-only paths are assumed to not be located within the road corridor; they can be situated adjacent to a road or through reserves and non-road corridors. The latter provides a route not available using the road network and therefore offer cyclists some advantage over motorists as it may result in a shorter route than what is available using the road network. These non-road corridor cycle-only paths are rare in New Zealand as most paths are shared with other users (shared paths).
There is a grey-area in the distinction between 'separated cycleways' and 'cycle-only paths'; and from a practical point of view, distinguishing between the two is not critical. Since examples of true cycle-only paths, as per the above definition, are rare in NZ, the photos below, which would be more correctly considered separated cycleways have been used to illustrate the most important aspects of a cycle-only path, i.e. that they are for the exclusive use of cyclists and physically separated from the roadway.
Check whether cycle paths are a suitable facility for your target users and for the type of road.
Road controlling authorities may mark cycle symbols at intervals along the cycle path. This is not a requirement but, as exclusive cycle paths are rare, it can be useful to do so to emphasise to people who are not cycling (motorcyclists, pedestrians or horse riders etc) that they are not entitled to use this path.
When using access control devices such as bollards or other end of path treatments on shared paths, for example to restrict access by other vehicles, the placement of the device is very important in terms of path user safety. The devices need to be conspicuous and may require supporting pavement marking.