The Associate Minister of Transport has proposed an ‘Accessible Streets’ rule package which seeks to improve the safety and efficiency of multiple types of transport. This rule package responds to the:
- Increase in use of micro-mobility devices like e-scooters.
- Desire to encourage the use of public and active transport options.
- Calls for clarification of local authority powers.
There are 9 key proposed rule changes under the ‘Accessible Streets’ package that the Government is seeking consultation on.
- Change and re-name the types of devices that are used on footpaths, shared paths, cycle paths and cycle lanes - powered wheelchairs will come under the definition of pedestrians to recognise they are of a similar risk level to unpowered wheelchairs and pedestrians. Hover boards, e-skateboards and powered unicycles are classed as motor vehicles and will not be allowed on the footpath under the new proposal.
- Establish a national framework for the use of footpaths - all footpath users other than walkers or runners will need to give right of way to pedestrians, travel no faster than 15 km/hr and ride a device that is less than 750 mm wide. This would include e-scooters. Local councils will have the ability, in consultation with their community, to reduce the maximum footpath speed limit and restrict which transport modes can use areas of footpaths. These restrictions could be specified for a period of time during the day or certain locations.
- Establish a national framework for the use of shared paths and cycle paths - all users must give way to pedestrians on shared paths. After pedestrians, the right of way priority is mobility devices, transport devices and then bicycles. The default speed limit of shared paths will be the same speed limit as the adjacent road. However, local councils can change the speed limit to between 10km/hr and 50km/hr if the default is inappropriate and unsafe for users.
- Enable transport devices to use cycle lanes and cycle paths - devices such as e-scooters and skateboards can be used in cycle lanes and paths to encourage faster transport devices, like e-scooters, to move off footpaths away from pedestrians.
- Introduce lighting and reflector requirements for powered transport devices and bicycles at night - these devices would need a light at the front and back of the device and a reflector attached to the device of the user to be used on the road or paths at night.
- Remove barriers to walking, transport device use and cycling - by making several give way rule changes giving those modes of transport right of way over others such as motor vehicles.
- Introduce a minimum overtaking gap for motor vehicles overtaking cyclists, transport devices, horses, pedestrians and people using mobility devices on the road - to 1 metre when the speed limit is 60km/hr or less or 1.5 metres when the speed limit is over 60km/hr.
- Clarify how road controlling authorities can restrict parking on berms. Currently, to restrict parking on berms, local councils can introduce a bylaw prohibiting parking in certain locations and signposting the prohibition in those locations - under the proposed rules, local councils would be able to restrict parking on a berm or an area of berms by passing a resolution and registering the restriction with the NZTA without the need of a sign. Development for the online registration is currently underway.
- Give buses priority when exiting bus stops - under the proposed rule, road users will need to give way to an urban public transport bus that is indicating to leave a bus stop on roads where the speed limit is 60km/hr or less.
Public consultation on the proposed rule changes is open and closes at 5pm on Wednesday 22 April 2020
Further details of the proposed rule changes can be viewed on the Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency website: https://www.nzta.govt.nz/about-us/consultations/accessible-streets
If you would like to discuss the proposed ‘Accessible Streets’ rule changes, or would like assistance with lodging a submission, please contact a member of our Resource Management and Environmental Law Team