New Zealand can be an e-cyclist’s dream trip with its unspoiled coastline, spectacular scenery and minimal traffic. New Zealand wants to ensure that all its visitors are safe while cycling on its roads. The New Zealand Transport Agency has compiled a code for cyclist.
There are equipment rules. The first and most strictly enforced since its inception in 1994 is the helmet law. Helmets must be worn and must meet standards and be securely fastened. Cycles must be equipped with brakes and reflectors and must make use of lights at dark or in dim conditions. Doubling up on a bike is not allowed unless the bike is equipped with specialised seat and footrests. Any additional rider would also need to be helmeted. A cycle trailer may be towed but cycles must not have a sidecar.
Behaviour rules also apply. Cyclist need to ride as near to the left side of the road as safely possible. Two cyclists may travel side by side but not when it hinders traffic from passing. Three or more cyclists may not ride side by side unless in an official race situation. When passing a vehicle a single line must be maintained. A cyclist must make use of hand signals 3 seconds before stopping or flowing into traffic, turning left or right, or changing lanes. Of course, just like the vehicles you share the road with, you are expected to obey all signs and signals, rules at pedestrian crossings, giving way to emergency vehicles and local bylaws. Footpaths are to be clear of cyclists unless for delivery of mail or newspapers. Additional information on New Zealand’s codes for cyclists can be found at New Zealand Transport Agency.
It is vital to be aware of New Zealand’s bike code before setting out on your adventure. There are also some general tips to use when planning your excursion.
- Carefully plan your trip. By taking the time to map out your route you can avoid busy urban roadways, rough roads or extreme challenges such as steep inclines. Cycling maps are available for different regions of New Zealand.
- Obey the rules of the road. As stated above, be respectful of laws governing cyclists.
- Be visible on the road. Where brightly coloured clothing and reflective material at night. Always ride in a visible position on the road and use lights at night or in dim situations.
- Always scan ahead for any situation that may interfere with your path. Be aware of parked cars and the possibility of an opening door. Pay attention to pedestrians that may cross your path. Watch out for potholes or debris. Use your listening skills. Earphones may limit your ability to hear any hazards.
- Communicate on the road. Make eye contact with drivers so you know they have seen you. Also make eye contact and use hand signals with other cyclists.
- Be courteous and smile. This can go along way in how you are treated by those you are sharing the road with.
Before hitting the road make sure your bike is roadworthy. Although as a traveler you may be renting a bike, always check to ensure safety. Try both the front and back brakes to ensure that they are working properly. Be sure that the wheel nuts are securely fastened and will not come out while traveling. Tires should always be correctly inflated and be sure to check for any cracked rubber. Reflectors should be clean and visible and lights must be functional. When riding an electric cycle be aware of the battery life. Depending on battery size you can expect between 25 and 70 miles of travel on a charge. If you are riding hard or on full power you may expect less mileage. If a battery loses its charge an e bike can still pedal but its benefits will be lost and subsequently its enjoyment. For longer rides, you may consider bringing along a spare battery.
Also keep in mind there is a correct and incorrect way to wear a bike helmet. Some important points to remember are:
- Make sure the helmet is neither tilted forward or to the side. This can obscure your vision or not provide adequate protection.
- Ensure that straps are secure so that it stays in place.
- Never wear another cap under your helmet. This may cause the helmet to come off in a crash situation.
- Do not place the helmet to the back of your head. This would allow your forehead to be exposed.
- Never wear a second hand helmet or one that has been in a crash. This may compromise the helmet’s safety features.
E cycling is a great way to see New Zealand. You will be among great company as over 1 million of the population cycles. Riding with courtesy and respect and obeying the cycling codes will ensure that your trip will be everything you dreamed it could be.