As a way of getting around, the bike is hard to beat. It's often the quickest form of transport for journeys less than 5km. Cycling is affordable, fun, non-polluting and great for staying fit and healthy.

Be seen. Check your bike lights.

You don’t need an expensive state-of-the-art bike, but your bike will need to be safe, comfortable and the right size for you.

Carefully consider how you want to use your bike. Is it primarily for commuting or will you want to use it for mountain biking or road biking?

It’s best to try before you buy to get the feel for as many different types of bike as possible and see what suits you. 

You can borrow one from a friend, hire a bike(external link) or go into your local bike shop(external link) for a chat, test ride their bikes and see what accessories are available.

If you have a bike you haven’t used for a while, consider taking it to your local bike shop(external link) to check that it’s safe and roadworthy.  

You’ll also want to consider some other gear, from the essentials down to some practical optional items:

  • Helmet (a legal requirement in NZ)
  • White front and red rear lights, visible from 200 metres away
  • Lock - choose security(external link)
  • Rainproof jacket
  • Hi-vis or brightly coloured clothing
  • Puncture repair kit / spare inner tube, tyre levers, multi-tool and compact pump
  • A basket or panniers
  • Mudguards for biking in any weather

Check out our Bike easy helmet and bike check [PDF, 8.2 MB].

 

Cycling requires a certain amount of skill.

If you’re new to riding a bike, or haven't biked in years, it's a good idea to learn the basic cycling skills(external link) needed for riding safely in the community. You can practice in your driveway or a local park with no cars around.

If you’re not experienced at riding in traffic, take some time to practice your skills and build your confidence on quieter roads or one of Christchurch's cycleways.

The best route to ride is often different from the route you'd drive.  Plan your route to make use of cycleways, shortcuts through parks, and neighbourhood streets with less traffic and lower speeds. 

Check out our Christchurch cycle map, or you can use the directions function on Google Map(external link)s - just click on the bike icon. 

If you’re unsure about your best route, test-ride it when you have plenty of time.  If possible, find an experienced cycling friend or colleague to ride with. 

Be familiar with the official New Zealand code(external link) for cyclists and check out the NZTA cycling website(external link) for more great information on cycling in NZ.

With more people choosing to cycle to get around, awareness, respect and courtesy are key to help everyone get where they’re going safely. 

Here are a few general tips to help things go smoothly.

Be aware, communicate clearly, ride predictably and be in control

  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Check behind as well as ahead of you. Watch for car doors opening and others moving around you.
  • Make extra checks around intersections where people driving may turn across your path.
  • When riding through queues of stationary or slow-moving vehicles, scan ahead for gaps where people turning may unexpectedly cut across your path.  Slow down and be ready to stop quickly.
  • Control your speed so you can react quickly if needed.
  • Be predictable and confident - make eye contact with others, use clear hand signals to indicate when turning, and avoid weaving when riding alongside parked cars, staying at least a metre away to be clear of the door zone.
  • Ring your bell when approaching people you plan to pass on bikes, scooters or those on foot.
  • Thank people you're sharing space with.  Positive interactions go a long way to building a considerate culture to make getting around more pleasant for everyone.
  • Plan your route – choosing which way to cycle is often quite different from the route people normally drive. Check out our cycle map to plan your route according to your cycling confidence levels.
  • Check your bike is in good working order – brakes effective, tyres fully pumped and plenty of tread to help avoid punctures, chain oiled for an easier ride, lights and reflectors well placed.
  • Wear an approved helmet that fits well and make sure you’re clued up to follow the road rules(external link).

Be seen

  • During the change of seasons, be prepared with working lights on your bicycle so you can be seen.
  • Bike lights in flashing mode are more noticeable and use less battery power.
  • Reflectors, reflective strips, reflective bag covers and reflective ankle bands can help you be more visible.
  • Consider wearing brightly coloured clothing or high visibility accessories.

Our friends in Wellington have put together these light-hearted Friendly Cyclist videos(external link) with great tips for comfortable and confident riding in the city.

Cycleways are a proven way to improve the health of a city, reduce congestion and reduce the cost of infrastructure. So whether you are biking, driving or walking, please take care around the new cycleways.

Things to be aware of when using a cycleway

Hook turns

Hook turns are a safer way for people on bikes to turn right at an intersection.

  1. Stay in the cycle lane as you enter the intersection and stop in the green hook turn box.
  2. Wait until the traffic signals on the other side of the road turn green and then cycle across the intersection keeping left.

Hook turns can be done at almost any intersection, including ones with or without the marked stopping area.

 

Greenway with shared lane

Shared lane markings, called sharrows (share arrows), indicate the most sensible place to bike on the road. They are often used on roads without dedicated cycle lanes, to help people cycling and driving share space.

Sharrows direct people cycling to ride towards the middle of the road to avoid opening doors from parked cars, pinch points and stormwater grates. For people driving, sharrows are a prompt for where you can expect to see people cycling.


Sharrows are a common feature along cycle routes, especially through neighbourhood greenways which are the sections that follow quieter 30kph streets.  In these areas, everyone can move around more comfortably in a slower environment. 
 

Cycle priority crossings

Green-painted cycle priority crossings, and paired cycle priority and pedestrian crossings mean that drivers must give way to people on bikes and on foot (including on scooters and skateboards).

People crossing need to check before entering the priority crossing that any drivers coming have seen them and are able to stop.

 

Driveways

Drivers must give way to people on bikes and on foot (including on scooters and skateboards) when entering or leaving a driveway. If possible, people should drive forwards out of their driveway.

 

If a two-way cycleway runs in front of a property, cyclists can be coming from both directions.

Remember to not park on the cycleway.

Two-way path or cycleway

Stay left if you are walking or riding on a two-way shared path or two-way cycleway.

In-lane bus stops

In-lane bus stops require that people on bikes stop to give way to passengers getting on and off the bus.

 

Bus passengers should stand on the footpath rather than the cycleway while waiting for the bus and check for people on bikes before boarding or exiting.

Traffic signals

Take care to follow the designated cycle traffic signals.

 

Target the diamonds to trigger the lights. When a bicycle rides over the white diamonds, this triggers the cycle traffic lights at the crossing.

Railway crossings

Only cross at designated crossing points.

At a controlled crossing, cross only when red signals have stopped flashing, the barrier arms have lifted and the bells have stopped ringing.

If the railway crossing is not controlled, look as far as you can up and down the railway line to check for trains.

If you ride regularly, at some point you may get a puncture. The most important thing is to have a plan for what you will do when that happens.

You might be able to hop on a bus to complete your journey, or you might choose to learn how to fix a puncture so you can carry on riding.

Spare inner tubes are small, light, easy to carry and relatively quick to change. Puncture repair kits are also easy to carry, but fixing a puncture can be trickier than changing the tube.

Some people carry a spare tube while they’re riding and keep a puncture repair kit at home so that they can fix tubes in warmth and comfort.

All buses in Christchurch have bike racks, and they’re free and easy to use.

The racks give lots of options, like accessing recreational rides that are further away, taking your bike through the Lyttelton tunnel, and getting home if it starts raining hard.

Check out Metro’s handy how-to video below that shows you how easy it is.  If you’ve never used the bus bike racks, have a practice on the test rack at the Bus Interchange.

For more details and frequently asked questions got to the Metro website(external link).

  • The Suburban Guide to Cycling in Christchurch (external link)has lots of suggested parks and quiet streets to start cycling in Christchurch.
  • The Cycling Christchurch website(external link) encourages and supports cycling in our city, with lots of news, information and events.
  • Go Cycle Christchurch (external link)is a voluntary organisation which organises fun, friendly cycle skills sessions for adults in car-free environments. They also lead slow group rides for adults, specifically aimed at helping build confidence and knowledge of how to use cycle infrastructure around the city. It's a great way to connect with others who ride and get some tips to build your experience and confidence.
  • Frocks on Bikes (external link)is a social group encouraging biking freedom, convenience, and fun – in your own style. Frocks not required, men welcome! They organise leisurely group rides, often around great themes like Street Art Rides and rides to Christchurch's wonderful weekend markets. 

The NZTA cycling website (external link)has comprehensive information on all things cycling.