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Kid aged 11 + Bike + Road = Good idea??

By Annette 4 years ago2 Comments

Is the traffic around your place busy? Does the idea of letting your sometimes bad decision maker out onto the road in control of a bike scare you? Are all the roads leading to your kids school jam packed with traffic every morning and afternoon? So why would you want your child to bike on the road by themselves?  What are the road rules for children cyclists?

Bike sign placed on the road warning cars to expect cyclists

Bike sign placed on the road warning cars to expect cyclists

Well if you’re anything like me you just get sick of being in the car. The traffic situation is entirely different to when we were kids and the infrastructure around cycle lanes and pathways is far from ideal but giving your kids the opportunity to be independant of you is a great gift.


The Law:

The suggested age for kids to ride on the road by themselves is 11 put this is entirely at your descretion. It is dependant on the type of child you have and the skill levels they possess.

The Official NZ Code for Cylists can be found here online and paper copies should be available from your local council. Please read this yourself and read through it with your child.

11+bike+kid. NZ code for cyclists. goRide

Read the NZ road code!


Example of tricky traffic situation for a cyclist.

What are the rules for the under 11’s? On the footpath with wheels 14 inches and under (355 millimetres/35.5 cm/14 inches NZ Cyclist Road Code wheel diameter limit) generally tricycles and small toddler bikes, on the road supervised when their bike is bigger than this (16 inches and above).

Bike Skills your child will need to ride on the road by themselves:

Ask yourself if they are good at making a decision, have they interacted with traffic enough to understand what cars are likely to do on a road? This can involve all sorts of things from crossing a road, to realising how fast a car moves, to having knowledge of intersections/roundabouts.


Traffic at a roundabout

Traffic at a roundabout

Traffic approaching a intersection

Traffic approaching a two lane intersection


Can your child take one hand off the handlebars safely so that they can use hand signals – do they know what the hand signals would be?

Stop hand signal

Stop hand signal

Could they look over their shoulder for traffic without weaving all over the road?

Tips for beginning:

  • design a route that is the “safest”, taking advantage of cycle pathways and minimising interaction with traffic. Get help from the Active Transport toolkit app.
  • practice in quiet times before launching them out into peak hour traffic
  • increase their confidence and skills on a bike by making it an important part of your family lifestyle from an early age/from now!
  • make sure their equipment works! The goRide Essential pre-ride bike safety check looks over the minimum in 30 seconds and should be done before every ride (think brakes, levers and helmet)
Check your brakes before every ride.

Check your brakes before every ride.

  • make sure they are visible – think lights, reflectors, bright jackets, bright school bags
  • encourage your school to have cycle skills training sessions with qualified instructors
  • read the NZ road code for cyclists together and get into conversations about the road and traffic. They need to understand NZ road rules and you want them to be an environmentally aware cyclist who is engaged in and scanning the environment (that is concentrating on the task at hand) for the entire commute.







The goRide way:

Planning and preparation, yes our P & P’s yet again. We talk a lot about this but your child needs to get safe, get ready and get better if you are hoping that at intermediate age they will bike by themselves to school. Check out our related stories and resources for information that will help you. Good luck and remember this is a great gift you are giving them.


Thanks for reading. Used together our stories and resources support you to achieve and develop as a rider.

Related goRide Resources

goRide Essential pre-ride bike safety check

Am I Safe to goRide?

goRide is a shared journey, so we would like you to assist in guiding it along the way. Contact goRide.  Your thoughts, comments or feedback is welcome. Thank you for being a part of the goRide way.


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  • Lennyboy says:

    Great website! I have provided some links to it from my own site “Cycling in Chch” (http://cyclingchristchurch.co.nz.)

    One minor point though: there is no legal minimum age at which kids are allowed to ride on their own in NZ. About 10-11 years is often suggested, as this is usually about the time that kids are taught cycle skills training and develop better road awareness. But it’s really up to the parents and their own assessment of their children’s skills and abilities.

    • Jo says:

      Thanks for your feedback and comment. We will look to re-word that statement to avoid any confusion. Thanks for the link and your support. Annette.

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