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'Let's get kids cycling on footpaths': mum

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 3/05/2016

Allowing child cyclists on footpaths would encourage them to pedal to school, she said. © Rex Images Allowing child cyclists on footpaths would encourage them to pedal to school, she said. A move is underway to make it legal for children to cycle on footpaths.

Lower Hutt's Jo Clendon says she returned from Australia in 2008 with young children and was amazed to discover it was illegal for them to cycle on the footpaths.

It is legal in some Australian states for children under 12 to cycle on footpaths.

She wants a law change to allow those under 14 here to do the same, along with accompanying adults. The change should also extend to over 65s and make cycle bells mandatory.

Hutt South MP Trevor Mallard has presented a petition to parliament this week, calling for the change with the aim of it going to a select committee.

The footpath was the safest place but parents and cycling safety groups couldn't encourage children to break the law, Ms Clendon told NZ Newswire.

"Parents are in a real bind."

Allowing child cyclists on footpaths would encourage them to pedal to school, she said.

Since 1980 the number of primary school students cycling to school had dropped from 12 per cent to 2 per cent.

There was little data on footpath accidents as most studies focused on road crashes. However, the overall risk would be lower as children would be separated from faster traffic.

Ms Clendon cited Queensland research which showed there wasn't a spate of cyclists hitting pedestrians, and generally the cyclist came off worse.

Pedestrians using footpaths currently had the right of way over cars coming out of driveways.

A law change would allow more education of drivers about leaving driveways safely, Ms Clendon said.

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