Bikes vs Cars – Road Rules

There has been much debate in the media and on forums everywhere regarding the whole bikes vs cars thing. Whilst most cyclists are well behaved, and most cars are well behaved, i think there are a select few making things bad for everyone by behaving like a child.

So I would just like to clarify things for you all and quote the road code here, just in case anyone was in doubt.

80-90% of Cyclists are also drivers, they pay road taxes, etc and drive on the road just as you do. Stop using this as an argument to justify your bad driving.

It IS legal to ride 2 abreast cycling, this however does take up an entire lane and so single file should be used when overtaking parked cars, or if cars want to get through.

If you are a car, then sometimes they may not notice you behind them, it pays to give a couple of short beeps to let them know you are there. At this point people in bunches will start the call ‘Car Back’ which is passed from rider to rider and they should move into single file.

At the lights,  especially when there are people turning, cyclists will sit in the middle of the lane. This is so that nobody turns in front of them at all, and because they can usually do a fairly fast take off.

Probably the worst situation is the most common, and that’s when a car overtakes a cyclist nicely and without thinking with plenty of gap, then forgets they were there and turns left into a street or driveway effectively cutting them off.  Whilst the crash may be minor for the car involve if the cyclist can brake, a resulting road rash or broken bones etc can sting for some time.

Riding on the footpath is illegal for anyone over 12 who is not a postie, its not an option that works for cyclists. The ‘cycling paths’ that are painted onto footpaths  are great for teenagers and kids, and even those slower riders or beach cruisers, however they are not in any way suitable for anyone riding faster than 15km/ph. The reason is because often people have children and dogs on the same footpaths which are unpredictable and will often jump out in front of you, not to mention people getting in and out of cars which have to cross the cycle path to get to the walking part, and in general people just not honouring the actual ‘cycle path’ part being only for cyclists.

The average roadie speed on the flat is easily near 30km/ph. A lot of people underestimate the speed they are going and think ‘oh they wont get here before i turn’ or similar’. On a downhill, personally, I’ve seen a lot of cyclists doing up to, and over 80km/ph, can you please be aware of this when you are turning and see a cyclist?

Above all, both Cyclists and Drivers, try to be more tolerant and less angry. You dont NEED to get angry if you get cut off, or if somebody over takes you, its ok to just let it go. Life is too short to waste time on pointless anger or in a jail cell/hospital because of it.

Safety rules for cyclists

  • Cyclists must wear an approved safety helmet. Always fasten it securely, by following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • It’s a good idea to wear brightly coloured or reflective clothing when cycling. That way you’ll be easier to see.
  • Don’t ride your bicycle on a footpath unless you are delivering newspapers, mail or leaflets, or there is a sign indicating it is a shared pedestrian and cycle path.
  • At intersections, you must:
    • follow the rules for motor vehicles, or
    • get off your cycle and walk across.
  • You can only ride alongside another cyclist or moped. You must not ride alongside a car, truck or other motor vehicle.
  • Always ride in single file if passing another vehicle.
  • Your cycle must not be towed by another vehicle.
  • Your cycle can only tow a trailer (one designed to be towed by a cycle) and must not be fitted with a sidecar. Or you can have tow it for you.
  • You must not carry a pillion passenger on your cycle unless you have a pillion seat and footrest. If you are carrying a child, the pillion seat must protect the child’s legs from the wheels.
  • You must not leave a cycle blocking a footpath.
  • Where there is an adequate cycle path or cycle lane, cyclists should use it.
  • You must ride with lights on when it is dark (from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise).
  • You must keep your cycle in good working condition.

Safe driving around cyclists

  • Hazards like parked cars, potholes, glass, litter and opening car doors may cause cyclists to veer off-line and move into your path. Because of this, give cyclists plenty of room when passing them. Ideally, allow at least 1.5 metres between you and the cyclist.
  • Wait for a clear space before passing a cyclist on a narrow road.
  • At intersections, apply the same rules to cyclists that you would to any other vehicle on the road. Take care to indicate turns.
  • Only drive across cycle lanes when entering or leaving side roads, driveways or parking spaces.
  • If you are crossing a cycle lane, give way to cyclists before you cross.
  • Take extra care around young cyclists.
  • You must not drive in a cycle lane.

4 Replies to “Bikes vs Cars – Road Rules”

  1. “I’ve seen a lot of cyclists doing up to, and over 80km/ph”

    Does the speed limit somehow not apply to cyclists?

    I wish more cyclists were aware of these rules: there seems to be a culture of angry entitlement among cyclists purely because they will always come off worse in a car vs cyclist accident. The really odd part is that this doesn't seem transitive: as someone who walks a lot to and from work in central Christchurch, it is a rare day that I don't have to go out of my way to avoid a cyclist riding full-tilt down the footpath simply because the one-way system is inconvenient, or plowing through pedestrian traffic at the busy two-way pedestrian crossing on the corner of Hereford and Colombo Streets. It goes double for skateboarders, actually, but since they can't skate on the road, what are they going to do?

    I don't know what cyclists are like in other parts of the country, but in Christchurch, they routinely run red lights, ride two-abreast through the city (which IS illegal, since they are travelling outside the line of parked cars), and just make general dicks of themselves. I'm not at all defending New Zealand drivers, but there is a lot of moral posturing (especially events like Critical Mass) which I would find a lot easier to swallow if more cyclists behaved considerately to other road (and FOOTpath) users. At the moment, it's largely hypocrisy.

  2. The speed limit does indeed apply to cyclists, and i don't know many that tend to break it, 50km zone is just far too dangerous to cycle over that.
    Most semi serious cyclists do a minimum of 40km on a weekend ride, since riding in the city is fairly dangerous, they go out to the country to ride. The Pickled Pedallers whom i rode with in Auckland usually do a 70km ride on the weekends with a 100km option, and most of them at this time of year are doing at least 120km rides on the weekend in prep for Lake Taupo 160km race at the end of the month .

  3. Great post, well said, the other day I was out with a friend riding a quiet country road, I heard a vehicle coming so got into single file, while the car was still over 100 metres away, they started blasting the horn, then slowed to scream abuse at us. What's up with that, we didn't do anything to impede them, just angry folks I guess.

  4. I find it interesting to hear that cyclists are supposedly very angry aggressive riders, however i find car drivers generally more aggressive. and when it comes down to it, it doesn't matter who is aggressive, just that those on bikes are vulnerable no matter what you do.
    If you want to abuse somebody, stop, have a rant or even loud talk, but for gods sake, don't use your mode of transport as a weapon. We should be acting like the grown ups we are!

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