accessible streets
Photo by Asher Wilson-Goldman

Accessible streets and accessible trails

The Associate Minister of Transport Julie Anne Genter wants to make footpaths more pedestrian-friendly as new forms of transport such as e-scooters change the way people get around. She is proposing a collection of rule changes known as the Accessible Streets Regulatory Package – and now she is seeking people’s thoughts on those regulations.

Among the changes are recommendations:

  • Clarifying that pedestrians and people in wheelchairs have right of way on the footpath
  • Putting in a speed limit of 15km/h (about running speed) and a width limit of 75cm for transport devices used on the footpath
  • Allowing e-scooters and other transport devices to use cycle lanes

Explicitly allowing bicycles and other transport devices (such as e-scooters) on footpaths potentially raises challenges for walkers with mobility issues or other disabilities. It will be one of the issues that the public debates as this regulatory package progresses.

For the Walking Access Commission accessible streets go hand-in-hand (or foot-by-foot?) with good trail access. Many tracks and trails are an important part of not just our outdoor recreation infrastructure but also our transport network.

Trails that allow people to walk or bike to their local schools, workplaces, shops and community are safer, healthier and more pleasant that footpaths that run alongside roads. For school children in particular, they are a great way to get to school safely and independently.

They also allow people to spend more time in nature which we now know has important public physical and mental health benefits. Trail connections build stronger communities and help us connect with nature, thus strengthening our environment.

The Commission will be advocating for the regulatory package to recognise the role that trails can play in making our transport journeys safer and healthier for walkers and bike riders.

This should include:

  1. expanding our trail network to give active transport users more options to get to their destinations.
  2. Making sure that our street networks link well to our network of tracks and trails
  3. Making sure our tracks and trails are of a good standard that makes them accessible for as many people as possible.

Anyone can have their say on the ‘Accessible Streets’ rules package.

The consultation will be open from 9 March to 22 April 2020.

The consultation document and further information on how to make a submission can be found on the Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency website:

Accessible Streets Consultation 

Page last updated: Mar 20, 2020, 10:59 AM