Biking Etiquette

Published 2021-02-08

Riding the New Zealand Cycle Trail requires you to share the track, cycleway or road with others – fellow cyclists and walkers, but also friendly dogs, horses, sheep and other animals. Here are some tips to ensure enjoyment and positive interactions between everyone.

Mountain Bikers’ Code

The following Mountain Bikers’ Code has been developed by the Mountain Bike Association of New Zealand (MTBNZ) in liaison with key stakeholders including the Department of Conservation.

Respect others

  • Stay in control, so you can safely avoid others and keep yourself intact.
  • Give way to walkers.
  • Use a bell or greeting when approaching others. Most negative feedback from walkers on shared-use tracks concerns being surprised by bikers approaching without warning.
  • Ride shared-use tracks in small groups. A ‘bike-train’ with a dozen riders displaces other users. A better number is 6–8, or less.
  • Be patient behind slower riders and pull over where practical to let faster riders pass.

Respect the rules

  • Ride only where permitted – keep off closed tracks, including those that are seasonally closed to protect the surface or minimise conflict with other users.
  • Be prepared (take food, water, tools, first aid and warm clothes) and plan for the unexpected (a change in the weather, an accident or getting lost).
  • Leave gates as you find them – either open or closed to keep stock where they are intended to be.

Respect the track

  • Don’t skid, cut corners or make new lines. Skidding creates water channels that cause erosion (use both brakes to slow down as you approach corners). Cutting corners is cheating and damages fragile ecosystems.
  • Avoid riding in the mud and rain, where possible. Both bikes and walkers damage soft, wet tracks.
  • Take your rubbish home – leave only tyre prints.
  • Clean your bike to prevent spreading weeds like gorse and didymo.

Respect public access easements

Some mountain bike rides travel along public access easements through private land. All easements and tracks are well marked. 

  • Stay on the public easement track.
  • Leave gates as you find them.
  • Do not disturb stock – cycle slowly through livestock areas.

Sharing the Road

  • Follow the road rules – stop for red lights and at pedestrian crossings.
  • Ride predictably, in a straight line and signal your intentions clearly in advance.
  • Ride no more than two abreast and only where safe and appropriate.
  • Try not to slow the flow of traffic – where practical pull over to let vehicles pass.
  • Courtesy works – a wave and a smile to other road users will help foster a more positive attitude to cyclists and vice versa.

You may also wish to read Riding Safely.