Safe cycling advice
Advice to parents of young cyclists
Cycling is a fun and healthy activity, and a first chance of independence. But many a parent has their heart in their mouth as they watch their child head off onto the road on a bicycle.
It's not an unreasonable feeling- the road is a busy and potentially dangerous place. But as long as children are well trained and have a sound knowledge of road rules, cycling can be safe for them as well as fun. For fun advice and activities for safe cycling, click here to visit the Skid Lid Kids Club website.
Parents are responsible for their child's skills
Because cyclists aren't required to hold a licence to use the road, however, it's up to parents to make sure their child has developed sufficient cycling skills and knowledge of the road rules before he or she first ventures onto the road.
Suggestions for safe cycling
Road Safety Co-ordinator Margaret Parfitt has some suggestions for parents to help them achieve fun and safe cycling for their children:
- First get them a copy of the Safe Cycling booklet — available in school libraries, book shops or from Council. Make sure the child reads it — if possible before they start learning to ride (it's easier to learn the right skills from scratch than it is to undo bad habits)
- Revise with the child all the important guidelines given
- Test your child's cycling skills and knowledge of road rules before he or she rides on the road
- Draw a map for your child showing the safest cycling routes in your neighbourhood
- Ride with the first few times they ride on the road if older.
Set a good example
Your support, encouragement and guidance is the key to helping your children become safe road users, so please give them the time they need. And don't forget to set a good example when you're driving or cycling on the road - children learn by imitation!
Your child should be at least ten years old
Finally the Land Transport safety Authority and Police recommend that children should be at least 10 years old before they ride on the road without adult supervision. Children younger than this simply don't have the mental or physical maturity to be safe road users by themselves.
Share the path!
Nelson is lucky have around 20kms of off-road walking and cycling paths to enable people to enjoy walking or cycling well away from the dangers of traffic.
However, many of the paths are shared between walkers and cyclists so courtesy and consideration is important to ensure both walkers and cyclists can feel safe and enjoy the experience. Here are the guidelines for sharing the paths.
- Watch for signs – in some areas the shared paths are separated into lanes for walkers and cyclists. When you see this signposted please follow the directions given.
- Leave room for others. If you are walking or cycling in pairs or more, try not to take up all the track, leave room for others to either overtake or pass the other way.
- Give a warning – cyclists if you are overtaking walkers give them room and give them a warning. Ring your bell if you have one or call out a friendly greeting.
- If you stop for a chat with someone you meet, move off the path to leave room for others.
- Keep left when you meet oncoming traffic. To prevent confusion when you meet each other, walkers and cyclists should always keep left, just as you would on the road.
- Be aware and be courteous. Whatever situation you find yourself in as a walker or cyclist on a shared pathway, simply being aware of what is happening around you and being courteous to your fellow users is a great way to be safe and enjoy your exercise.
What cyclists would like motorists to know
Motorists and cyclists both have a right to use our roads - a right to safe and enjoyable travel. Both share a responsibility to understand each other's needs and respond positively. Cyclists are more vulnerable than motorists, so drivers have the major responsibility to take care.
- Rain, wind and poor visibility make conditions worse for cyclists.
- Cyclists need extra room at intersections and roundabouts.
- Cyclists ride out from the kerb to avoid drains, potholes and debris.
- Cyclists turning right are exposed and need extra consideration.
- Cyclists have to ride in the main traffic flow if parked cars block the left road side.
- Cyclists can be dazzled by full beam headlights, like everyone else.
- Cyclists can be fast movers - 20km/h or more.
What motorists would like cyclists to know
- Motorists get upset if cyclists ride without lights, ignore red lights or hop on and off the footpath.
- Motorists travel faster than cyclists and may have less time to take account of hazards.
- Motorists may not always see cyclists especially at night or in wet weather.
- Motorists get uneasy when cyclists seem hesitant, move out suddenly or swerve around potholes.
- Motorists can feel delayed by cyclists.
Watch for cars pulling out
Make eye contact with drivers.
Scan the road behind
Look back over your shoulder without losing your balance or serving from side to side.
Be ready to brake
Always use front and rear brakes together for safe controlled braking.
Avoid road hazards
Ride carefully over sewer grates, man hole covers, oil on surfaces, gravel and railway tracks. Report hazards to the local council. Be patient when approaching livestock on the road.
Keep bike in good repair
Adjust your bike to fit you, and keep it regularly maintained. Check brakes and tyres often.
Use a pack or a rack to carry things
Saddlebags, racks, baskets, backpacks are all good ways to carry things, freeing your hands for safe cycling. Don’t ride with a heavy rucksack on your back or sling bags over your handlebars.
Watch for opening car doors
Keep an eye out when going around parked cars on the side of a road.
Lock bike when you're gone
Lock up to a post or bike rack. Thread the chain or cable through the frame and wheels.
Always keep a photo and serial number of your bike.Bike registration is not required.
Tools to carry on your bike
Lock, allen/hex keys, pump, lights, spare inner tube, puncture repair kits, tyre levers.