Making cycling a safer and more attractive transport choice is a key priority for Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.

View research conducted to improve the safety of all road users and to encourage more people to get about by bike.

New research underway

  • Intersection safety

    The AA and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency are jointly funding research, beginning in February 2017, into ways to make intersections safer and more comfortable for cyclists and motorists. A pilot study will begin in February 2017.

    This innovative research will pilot a new methodology that will take video footage at peak hours from four urban intersections – two each in Wellington and Auckland. They will be intersections with high numbers of cyclists and vehicle movements so that the number of interactions is maximised.

    By analysing the interactions we can start to better understand how to educate motorists and cyclists, and design intersections to make them safer and more comfortable for all users.

    Close Back to top

Cycling research

  • Insight to better understand the causes of bikelash

    The NZ Transport Agency commissioned Empathy to help better understand the causes of bikelash.

    Empathy utilised a human-centred design process, engaging in in-depth conversations to gather insights from urban New Zealand communities . Through this process they identified opportunities to help shape engagement planning and the approach local councils take to cycleway projects.

    This report outlines Empathy’s findings and introduces high-level recommendations for the Transport Agency and local councils to explore.

    View the full report, conducted by Empathy [PDF, 9.1 MB]

    Close Back to top
  • Regulations and safety for electric bicycles and other low-powered vehicles

    The NZ Transport Agency commissioned ViaStrada to research standards and safety for low -powered vehicles (LPVs) worldwide.

    This research report presents a review of overseas legislation, technology trends, market and safety analyses for low-powered, low-speed vehicles.

    These vehicles include electric bicycles, mobility scooters, self-balancing devices and other personal mobility or wheeled recreational devices.

    Current New Zealand LPV legislation is based only on motor power and how certain LPVs may be used. In all other countries reviewed, top motor-assisted speed is regulated.

    The report assesses various regulatory and non-regulatory options for improving safety while supporting technological innovation and mode choice options in New Zealand.

    View the full report, conducted by ViaStrada(external link)

    Close Back to top
  • Towards a safe system for cycling

    The NZ Transport Agency engaged Mackie Research to investigate the development and application of a cycling safety system model preparing New Zealanders for utility cycling.

    Making urban cycling a safer and more attractive transport choice is now a NZ Transport Agency strategic priority. Currently, road trauma for cycling is lower than other modes; however, unless a safer system for cyclists is developed, including more effective cycling education, an increase in road trauma is likely with increased investment and promotion.

    The research first identified key cycle safety interventions through the development and application of a cycling safety system model. The development of this model, a first
    for New Zealand, was informed by contemporary models of crash causation, which examined distal and proximal crash causation factors. Key findings were the need for a strong mandate and strategic direction for cycling, and improved systems to provide for cyclists in road design.

    Second, the report provides guidance on how best to prepare New Zealanders for utility cycling, drawing on key literature and engagement with stakeholders and end users. The need for consistent and comprehensive approaches, involving a variety of initiatives and touch points over the course of people’s lives, were indicated.

    Together, these two distinctly different, yet complementary, pieces of work provide actionable
    recommendations that can improve safety for cyclists and facilitate increased cycling uptake.

    View the full report, conducted by Mackie Research(external link)

    Close Back to top
  • Shared path markings to replace signage

    To reduce the occurrence or extent of ‘sign forests’ on paths for walking and cycling, a trial of using pavement markings only (ie to replace the current signage requirements) on shared paths at transitions to exclusive cycle paths and / or footpaths has been undertaken.

    Two localities are participating in the trial – Auckland and Christchurch. Whilst following the general requirements for the markings to be used, as outlined in the Gazette notice, each locality has adopted slightly different variations, based on their specific site contexts and historical marking specifications. The standard pedestrian and cycle symbols, as specified by the Traffic Control Devices rule have been used, with Auckland opting to not use elongated bicycle symbols and placing the pedestrian and cycle symbols side by side, whereas Christchurch used elongated cycle symbols and the pedestrian symbol above the cycle symbol. 

    Auckland Transport and Christchurch City Council – Shared path signage trial report [PDF, 3.2 MB]

    Close Back to top

Cycling safety research

Three investigative research projects have been completed. They are 

The action plan outlines the work we are doing to deliver on the Cycling Safety Panel recommendations.

  • Investigating minimum overtaking gaps in New Zealand

    The NZ Transport Agency engaged Opus Research to investigate the feasibility and possible implications of introducing mandatory minimum overtaking gaps for cyclists, together with a behaviour change programme encouraging motorists to give a safe overtaking gap when passing people on bikes.

    The trialling of mandatory minimum overtaking distances for motor vehicles overtaking cyclists was a key recommendation of the New Zealand Cycle Safety Panel to develop practical and innovative recommendations for how central and local government can work together to make cycling a safer transport option for all road users.

    The Opus research will help to inform decisions on whether to proceed with a trial of mandatory minimum overtaking distances. This investigation will increase our understanding of what safe passing distances are, and how they could be trialled.

    Download the full report, conducted by Opus Research [PDF, 4 MB]

    Close Back to top
  • Investigating road user rules for people walking and cycling

    The NZ Transport Agency engaged MWH and ViaStrada to investigate options for amendments to several give-way related road user rules.

    Around half of all urban cycling injuries occur at intersections. Providing safe and convenient cycling infrastructure through intersections can be challenging. The Transport Agency commissioned research into several rules affecting cycling and pedestrian flow through intersections. This complements the Transport Agency’s development of network design guidance.

    The research, which will be used to inform policy advice regarding potential rule changes, investigated the likely impacts of:

    • giving pedestrians right-of-way over turning traffic when crossing side roads
    • giving cyclists right-of-way over turning traffic where separated cycling facilities cross side roads
    • allowing cyclists to use a left turning lane while riding straight ahead
    • allowing cyclists to undertake slow moving traffic
    • allowing cyclists to lane split when filtering to the front of a queue of traffic
    • allowing cyclists to turn left (and/or ride across the top of a T intersection) despite being faced with a red light.

    Download the full report, conducted by MWH and ViaStrada [PDF, 3 MB]

    Close Back to top

Cycling research reports

Research conducted by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency:

  • RR 180 – Cycle audit and cycle review: A scoping study

    This study was an investigation to see whether the process of cycle audit and cycle review developed by the Institution of Highways and Transportation in the United Kingdom should be introduced in New Zealand. The researchers interviewed traffic engineers and planners, road safety coordinators and cycle officers in nine local authorities, as well as cycle advocates, regional authority staff and Transit New Zealand staff.

    View the research report

    Close Back to top
  • RR 338 – Developing school based cycle trains in New Zealand

    A cycle train is similar in approach to the ‘walking school bus’ – adult volunteer ‘conductors’ cycle along a set route to school, collecting children from designated ‘train stops’ along the way. They are well established in Belgium and are beginning to appear in the United Kingdom. Previous research in New Zealand found a high level of interest in the cycle train concept, leading us to design and conduct a trial for implementing cycle train networks here.

    View the research report

    Close Back to top
  • RR 389 – Cycle safety: Reducing the crash risk

    Cycling is a sustainable mode of travel and an alternative to motor vehicle trips, particularly for shorter trips. However, the risk of crashing while cycling is typically higher than while travelling in a motor vehicle. To create a safer environment for cyclists, traffic engineers and transport planners can select a number of safety countermeasures. These include changes to the road layout, such as reducing traffic volumes and speeds; installing cycling lanes and paths; and conducting enforcement and education programmes focused on drivers and cyclists.

    View the research report

    Close Back to top
  • RR 669 – Transport impacts on wellbeing and liveability

    This research set out to show how the transport sector contributes to better living conditions for all New Zealand citizens through investment in related capital.

    Maximum wellbeing benefits will be achieved by ensuring that everyone has access to high quality, low-carbon, transport systems that promote health and social connection and generate high levels of travel satisfaction. The built environment, especially urban density, has a significant impact on the viability of active and public transport systems.

    View the research report

    Close Back to top
  • RR 674 – Mode shift to micromobility

    The performance of the transport network can be improved by anticipating the impacts of new micro-mobility technologies and how the introduction of new modes may be managed to optimise benefits.

    In this research transport modelling, based on several assumptions about micro-mobility, suggested higher usage of shared paths and separated cycle facilities than for forecasts of push-bikes alone. The growth in availability and ownership of micro-mobility may also lead to increase in public transport patronage as a result of first mile/last mile micro-mobility use.

    View the research report

    Close Back to top
  • RR 676 – Latent demand for walking and cycling

    This research was undertaken to help inform network planning for walking or cycling which is commonly undertaken with limited evidence or unreliable data.

    The research produced a stocktake and assessment of methodologies for estimating latent demand for walking and cycling and a ‘decision tree’ that can be used to identify the most appropriate modelling approach, or approaches.

    View the research report

    Close Back to top

Cycling research notes

Research notes are the output of research generally undertaken within short timeframes in response to a specific issue or development and the outputs are not independently peer reviewed.