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Maintain your bike
A well-maintained bike is much safer and more fun to ride. If nothing else, lube your chain to keep it running smoothly.
Even if you can do basic fixes yourself, it’s wise to get your bike serviced once a year by a bike shop mechanic.
Bike safety check (4 steps)
- Squeeze the tyres. They should feel firm.
- Keep tyres pumped to the recommended pressure printed on the side of the tyre. This protects your rims, helps you control the bike and makes punctures less likely.
- Replace tyres with worn tread.
- Test the front and rear brakes separately to make sure they can stop each wheel.
- Check the whole brake pad is sitting neatly on the wheel rim (for rim brakes).
- Check brake pads aren’t too worn - they should be more than 3mm thick.
- Check the brake levers are properly adjusted. They shouldn’t pull all the way into the handle grip.
- Check the quick release levers or wheel nuts are securely fastened.
- Tighten wheel nuts with a spanner. Tighten quick release levers by hand and fold them all the way over - they should be firm but still easy to undo.
- Lift the bike and spin each wheel separately. If a wheel wobbles, get it checked at a bike shop.
Reflectors and lights
- Check your bike has a red rear reflector. It’s a must if you’re riding on the road.
- Biking before dawn or after dusk? You need a white front light and red rear light.
- Headlights should be attached to handlebars and point down so they don’t dazzle other road users.
Riding safely on paths and roads
Shared paths are for everyone, whether you’re biking, scooting, pushing a pram or just out for a stroll. Look out for others, slow down, use a bell and pass with care.
Riding on the footpath is not legal unless you’re delivering mail or on a bike with wheels less than 355mm wide. If biking on a footpath, look out for cars pulling out and be considerate of pedestrians.
Cycleways are dedicated paths for people using bikes. They’re separated from traffic and pedestrians. Cycleways may be one-way or two-way. Stay left and follow any ground markings.
On-road cycle lane
On-road cycle lanes are often painted green. They're a dedicated space for people using bikes. Watch for vehicles crossing or parking in a bike lane. Scan the road ahead to see where the lane goes.
Riding on the road
Follow these simple on-road cycling tips to stay safe and make your ride more fun.
See and be seen
- Ride in a straight line in a visible position on the road — don’t stick to the kerb where parked cars can hide you from view.
- Wear bright clothes. After dusk or before dawn, add lights and reflective material.
Communicate with other road users
- Make eye contact with drivers if you can.
- Use hand signals to clearly indicate your intentions, and check over your shoulder before you turn.
- Give drivers a smile or a friendly wave to say thanks.
- When you're driving, look out for bikes and give them at least 1.5m when passing.
Use your eyes and your ears at all times — avoid riding with earbuds in if you can. Scan your surroundings for:
- Parked cars. Check if there’s a driver in the car and pass them with enough space to allow for an unexpected opening door.
- Potholes, uneven surface or debris on the road.
- People on the footpath who may step into the road without seeing or hearing you.
- Cars turning in or out of side streets. Use eye contact to make sure they have seen you.
Obey the road rules
Do the right thing — get to know the rules in the New Zealand Code for Cycling. This isn’t just about following the law. You’ll also be doing your bit to share the road safely. We all need to look out for each other.
Plan a safe route
Find a route you’re confident riding on. Often you can avoid a main road or a big hill by choosing quiet streets, shared paths or parks to bike through instead.
Bike bright at night
Lights and reflectors
- Put white (front), and red (rear) lights on your bike at night and in low light conditions.
- Headlights should be attached to handlebars and pointing down. This stops them dazzling, confusing or distracting other road users.
- Lights must be visible from at least 200m away.
- You also need a red rear reflector.
Wear bright gear
- Wear something bright or colourful.
- Reflective strips on your clothing or backpack boost your visibility.
See the NZ Code for Cyclists for more detailed advice.