A Bay cycle safety instructor is "scared" about a possible law change to allow children and elderly people to bike on footpaths.

In a new report, the Transport and Industrial Relations select committee has recommended that the Government look at changing the law to allow children under 12, the over-65s, and people with mental and physical disabilities, to bike on footpaths. The committee also recommended those users be required to have bells on their bikes.

The idea scared Iris Thomas, founder of Kids Can Ride, who said children were at high risk of being hit by cars reversing out of driveways.

"It scares me that they're on the footpath and totally unaware of a car that could be coming out of a driveway. If you check out the stats on cycle accidents with children, there's a huge number involving cars hitting children on footpaths.


"If there are high fences or trees there is no way a driver can see a child on a bike on a footpath - and a child cannot see the car.

"The first sight they see of each other is when they connect."

Ms Thomas said riding on the footpath gave cyclists a false sense of security and they tended to be less aware of traffic when doing so. Children who were not traffic savvy may bike straight across an intersection without stopping to check for oncoming cars.

On the other hand, Ms Thomas believed a law change requiring cyclists to have bells could be a good thing, and said it worked well in France.

Cyclist Bruce Galloway, who has more than 30 years' experience cycling in Tauranga, said he did not think children past primary school-age should be allowed to bike on footpaths, particularly as they tended to ride much faster than small children.

"Twelve is too high, I would bring it right down to 10. Eleven and 12-year-olds could ride too fast - imagine if you're an old person walking down a footpath and get a 12-year-old rushing towards you."

Mr Galloway said it was important to teach children to ride safely on the road.

He did not agree with compulsory bells.


"The guys I ride with, there's about 20 of us and two-thirds of us would have bells on our bikes."

Cycle Action Network project manager Patrick Morgan also had an issue with compulsory bells, saying they were helpful but there was no evidence they needed to be mandatory.

"It needs a high standard of proof that it works. There are also negative consequences - shops will just sell crappy little bells just for compliance, they'll break in five minutes."

Associate Transport Minister Tim Macindoe told NZME substantial concerns had been raised about the idea and these would be considered thoroughly before any decisions were made.

If approved, Mr Macindoe said there would need to be clear expectations on how to keep both cyclists and pedestrians safe.