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There are new ways of getting around Christchurch, both in the suburbs and the city centre, with new cycle paths, road markings and sensors, pedestrian crossings and bus movements. Please read on to find out about the different types of new infrastructure so that you know how to use it to get around easily and safely.

Cycle signals on Tuam Street by the Bus Interchange

There are separated cycle lanes outside the Bus Interchange on Tuam Street. Buses turn across the cycle lane to enter the Interchange. When the bus signals show a green bus-only light, the cycle signals will show a red stop light. People cycling are warned by orange flashing lights on the ground that the cycle light is about to turn red. These flashing lights mean get ready to STOP on the red light outside the Bus Interchange.

Read the flyer for more safety information (external link)

Bus on the road in Christchurch

Shared pathway etiquette

Considerate behaviour is key to the success of shared pathways. Below are some signs you may see around to encourage their appropriate use.

As usual, common sense will ensure happy users. When sounding your bell to warn when approaching, do so from a reasonable distance behind the person that you intend to pass, rather than when you’re almost upon them.

Slow down as you pass, giving them plenty of room – imagine how it feels when you’re cycling and are passed on the road by someone driving faster than you. Share The Road, Share The Path – a friendly “g’day” as you pass always helps too!

Share the path with care

What is a hook turn and how do I do it?

A hook turn is basically a right turn at an intersection, done in two steps. It enables you to stay on the left side of the road at all times, avoiding the need to move across traffic to turn right.

Step 1 : When the traffic signal is green, ride across the intersection keeping left. When you reach the hook turn box (usually marked with a cycle symbol and right-turn arrow), turn your bike around, and wait until the traffic signal now in front of you changes to green.

Step 2 : Ride across the intersection, keeping left.

N.B. When using the above technique, always remain vigilant of:

  • People crossing the road on foot
  • Traffic (including other people on bikes) behind you at Step 1 that is travelling straight ahead
  • Alternatively, it is perfectly acceptable to find a safe place to stop prior to entering the intersection, dismount and walk your bike across the intersection, using pedestrian crossings.
Doing a cycle hook turn

Image courtesy of Glen Koorey,

What is an advanced stop box and how do I use it?

Advanced stop boxes are road markings (a green square with a white cycle symbol), painted at traffic signals, in front of the line of waiting traffic. They are designed to provide a place for people on bikes to stop where they may be more visible, positioned ahead of other people in larger vehicles.

Some older hook turn and advanced stop boxes are painted rusty red rather than green. Others may not have any background colour but just the white cycle symbol.


When using hook turn or advanced stop boxes, always be extra vigilant that the people in larger vehicles waiting behind you have seen you as you may be in their blind spot. 

View safety information for cyclists and truck and bus drivers (external link)

Woman waiting at an advanced stop box

Detector lines and activating traffic sensors

You may find you arrive at an intersection where the traffic lights are red and there are no other vehicles waiting. To activate the traffic lights, position your bike over the lines where grooves have been cut into the tarmac and refilled. This will trigger the traffic lights as that's where the traffic light sensors are.

Woman waiting at traffic lights

Sensors at traffic lights with a dedicated cycle signals

At traffic lights with a dedicated cycle signals, try to locate your bicycle over the line of painted white diamonds, as these indicate the most sensitive location of the cycle detection sensors. At locations with a blue box, the red star lighting up indicates that you have been detected, which will activate the cycle phase for the signals. If the red star does not light up, try shifting your bike over the sensor again to trigger it.

Cycle signal sensors

What is a sharrow and how do I use it?

A sharrow (“share arrow”) is an indication that people on bikes and people in cars should share the vehicle lane, and that cyclists can be expected take the whole lane rather than keeping left to allow cars to pass.

Sharrows mean that as a cyclist you can validly ‘occupy’ the traffic lane when it is safe and appropriate to do so, keeping clear of hazards like car doors, and pinch points like kerb build-outs and storm water grates.

Sharrows are often used in traffic-calmed (30 km/h) streets where the carriageway is not wide enough for a bike lane alongside two lanes of traffic, and where traffic speeds and/or volumes are low. An example of a sharrow on Colombo St near Ballantynes is shown below.

Sharrows have been successfully trialled around New Zealand, including in city centres. Sharrows can be suitable for areas with a slower posted speed limit like 30 km/h even when traffic volumes are quite high, because cyclists can more easily travel at the same speed as vehicles. This in turn means that people on bikes may feel more confident to ‘own the lane.’ NZ trials also found that sharrows reduced mean traffic speeds by 1 to 6 km/h,

People in Christchurch can expect to see a lot more sharrow markings on neighbourhood greenway routes coming soon along the Uni-Cycle (external link) , Papanui Parallel (external link) and Rapanui-Shag Rock (external link) Major Cycleways, as well as other appropriate streets in the central city.

Sharrows on Colombo St, outside Ballantynes

Image courtesy of Glen Koorey,

Bus lanes

People on bikes may use a bus lane, as long as there isn't a ‘buses only’ sign. Please should be considerate of buses - the size of a bus means bus drivers often can't see cyclists. This is another scenario where consideration on both sides goes a long way – make eye contact with the bus driver, and if you are really holding up the bus, consider pulling over to let it pass if it’s safe to do so.

Vehicles turning left may need to cross bus or cycle lanes. Legally, they must give way to all vehicles using the lanes, but please be careful if a vehicle is turning left just ahead of you as the driver may not see you, or may wrongly guess your speed.

Bus lane in Christchurch