Children under 16 can ride on the footpath

Did you know the rules have changed and children up to the age of 16 in NSW can now legally ride a bike on the footpath? Previously it was up to the age of 12.

This change in law helps children keep safer until they have the skills, decision making and knowledge of the rules to ride safely on the road.

An adult rider who is supervising a bicycle rider under 16 may also ride with the young rider on the footpath unless there are signs specifically prohibiting cycling.

Older independent children may want to ride to and from school. It is important to consider whether the infrastructure around your school supports children riding safely to school. Also, it important to check with the school about their guidelines for students riding to and from school.

If the traffic environment is suitable there are benefits of older children (independently or supervised) safely riding to school. It:

  • can help to ease traffic congestion
  • reduce their carbon footprint
  • promote physical activity.

It is recommended that until children are 10 years old, they should ride off-road away from vehicles and driveways, such as on bike paths.

Children may learn skills such as balancing, pedalling and steering quite easily, but they are still learning skills that help them to judge speed, distance and the direction of sound.

Young children will often ride with their head down, concentrating on pedalling, not the environment around them and potential hazards. Children need ongoing adult supervision in safe, off-road locations to gradually develop all their skills. The safest places to ride bikes, scooters and skateboards are within fenced areas. This helps your child from riding or falling onto the footpath or the road.

Children between 10 and 12 should ride away from busy roads .

Key points to discuss with all children who are riding on the footpath:

  • cyclists must keep to the left and give way to pedestrians
  • always wear a correctly fitted helmet
  • on shared paths, riders are encouraged to leave a metre of space with other pedestrians, where possible
  • be alert near driveways where vehicles may be driving in or out
  • plan routes using quieter streets, bicycle paths or shared paths
  • at intersections, all riders must get off their bike and wheel it across the road, as a pedestrian.

Advice for families about safe bike riding, Safety Town

Road rules for bicycle riders, Centre for Road Safety

  • Teaching and learning
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