A NSW Government website

Cycling policy

We provide opportunities for recreational cycling in many national parks and reserves.


Cycling, including mountain biking, is a popular and healthy recreational activity that can raise awareness, appreciation and understanding of the natural environment.

Cycling can impact on park values and other park users and must be managed consistently with relevant legislation and the objectives for which a park is reserved.

Information on the different types of National Parks and Wildlife Service parks and reserves and their management objectives can be found on the website.

This policy does not provide for the use of vehicles with combustion engines (refer instead to the Vehicle Access Policy).

Key terms in this policy are explained in the Definitions section.


1–7. Where can I ride?
  1. A range of cycling experiences, including mountain biking, may be provided in some national parks and reserves managed by National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), where cycling can be undertaken sustainably and consistent with the conservation of natural and cultural values.
  2. National parks and reserves can contain roads, management trails and tracks. Access to these roads, trails and tracks for cycling varies according to the reserve type and any specific provisions of the park's plan of management. The following general provisions apply:

    • park roads – cycling on park roads is permitted in all reserve categories. Some roads that pass through national parks and reserves may be public roads that are not part of the park. Rules for the use of public roads are determined by the appropriate roads authority and are not the subject of this policy
    • management trails – cycling is generally permitted on management trails in all reserve categories, except for nature reserves and wilderness areas where it must be specifically permitted in the plan of management and signposted (see para. 12)
    • tracks – cycling on tracks is not permitted in nature reserves or wilderness areas. In all other reserve categories, cycling is only permitted on tracks where it is specifically approved in a plan of management and signposted as such (see para. 11)
    • off-track – cycling off-track is not permitted in all reserve categories (see para. 4 for exceptions).

    For parks without a plan of management, decisions about cycling will be made in accordance with the Managing Parks Prior to a Plan of Management Policy (see para. 20 – Cycling and Plans of Management).

    Additional access restrictions may apply in declared Special Areas that protect drinking water catchments.

  3. Tracks where cycling is permitted may be designated as multi-use, preferred-use or single-use. Tracks may also be designated as one-way to ensure safety or to optimise the experience for users. Conditions may be applied to the use of tracks, such as time or seasonal limits, areas where cyclists must dismount, etc.
  4. There may be unique circumstances related to particular landscape characteristics in a park where off-track cycling activities, such as beach or snow cycling, may be permitted by consent for one-off or short time periods. The following applies:
    • the proposed activity must be subject to environmental assessment and have appropriate conditions applied to protect park values
    • the park plan of management must include this activity if it is intended to be repeated, ongoing on a regular basis, or may occur for extended periods of time.
  5. To help visitors choose appropriate cycling experiences, cycling opportunities in parks and reserves may be classified for difficulty according to the Australian Mountain Bike Trail Guidelines.
  6. The impact of cycling on the park environment, park management resources and other park users will be monitored. Where cycling is having an unacceptable impact on park values or visitor safety, management responses may include:
    • temporary or permanent closure of tracks
    • revised cycling access arrangements
    • diverting or rerouting cycling access temporarily or permanently (see para. 21 – Changes to Cycling Access).
  7. NPWS will close unauthorised tracks and rehabilitate these on a priority basis, subject to available resources. NPWS will also undertake community engagement and compliance activities to address ongoing unauthorised track building and the risks associated with the use of such tracks (fines may apply under the National Parks and Wildlife Regulation 2019).
8–9. Can I ride my electric bicycle or use an adapted bicycle?
  1. Yes. Power-assisted pedal cycles that align with NSW Road Rules are considered to be bicycles for the purpose of this policy.
  2. This policy applies to adaptive cycles/mountain bikes that enable people with disabilities to access cycling opportunities.
10–14. Signs
  1. Signs informing visitors where cycling is, or is not, permitted must be consistent with the NPWS Signage Manual (internal NPWS document). Signs may identify the activities (e.g. walking or cycling) permitted on the track and communicate the rules for using the track (such as whether the track is one-way and if the track is multi-use, and so on).
  2. Tracks where cycling is permitted (see para. 2) will be signposted.
  3. Management trails in wilderness areas and nature reserves where cycling is permitted will be signposted. In all other parks and reserves cycling on management trails is generally permitted and does not require a sign (see para. 2).
  4. In line with the Wilderness Policy, where cycling is permitted on management trails in wilderness areas, signs should be located at trail heads outside wilderness areas where possible.
  5. Signs may be installed that require cyclists to dismount or take other measures, in certain locations, for safety reasons or to reduce environmental impacts.
15. Ancillary facilities
  1. Ancillary facilities, that support bicycle use, such as bicycle racks, toilets, car parks, charging stations etc., may be provided in parks as follows:
    • must be in accordance with the park plan of management and any design and constructions standards adopted by NPWS
    • may only be installed following appropriate environmental impact assessment
    • generally will not be provided in nature reserves
    • will not be provided in wilderness areas.
16–18. How are new cycling opportunities developed in parks?
  1. Subject to available resources and identified priorities, new cycling opportunities may be developed in parks and reserves from time to time. New cycling opportunities will align with this policy and the NPWS Cycling Strategy, be consistent with the park plan of the management and be subject to relevant environmental assessment and community consultation guidelines.
  2. The consideration of new cycling opportunities within a park or reserve may take into account the existing network, previously unauthorised or closed tracks, and potential new sections of track, together with the scope to connect to other off-park networks (see para. 26).
  3. All new tracks will meet design, construction and maintenance guidelines that are adopted by NPWS.
19–20. Cycling and plans of management
  1. Park plans of management will address cycling opportunities (see para. 2). For some parks, plans of management may be supported by more detailed provisions for cycling in a subsidiary plan such as a park-specific cycling/mountain bike plan or park precinct plan.
  2. Where a plan of management is not in place for a park, the Managing Parks Prior to a Plan of Management Policy will apply to the management of cycling activity within the park.
21–23. Changes to cycling access
  1. Periodic, occasional or permanent closure of park roads and management trails may be undertaken in accordance with the Vehicle Access Policy. The process outlined in the vehicle access policy will also apply to the closure of tracks to cycling. Closures will be communicated on the NPWS website and by signage.
  2. From time to time, the network of tracks and management trails available for cycling may need to be adjusted from that identified in a plan of management or subsidiary plan, to address specific overriding safety concerns, protect park values or maintain connectivity of approved routes. These issues may result from landscape changes such as rockfalls or landslip, aftermath of fire, flood or other natural or human induced causes.
  3. Minor adjustments to the network for the purposes set out above (para. 22) may be authorised using appropriate signage, including the temporary diversion or redirection of cycling onto other tracks or trails previously not authorised for cycling, or the construction of small-scale additions to the network (e.g. to provide a new link between tracks and reduce environmental risks associated with the use of an existing track). The following applies:
    • all relevant environmental assessment and consultation requirements must be met
    • more substantial changes to the network, including those requiring larger-scale construction, must be reflected in the plan of management. This includes changes that might have significant impacts on park values, visitors or neighbours, or are likely to be of concern to the broader community
    • changes to the network that are driven primarily by user demand must be reflected in the park plan of management.
24–25. Cycling events
  1. Cycling events may be considered for some parks and reserves and under certain conditions. Cycling events are guided by the Events, functions and venues policy. Events and any associated event infrastructure or facilities:
    • must be consistent with relevant management principles for the reserve category
    • must be consistent with the park or reserve plan of management
    • must meet environmental and risk assessment requirements.
  2. Cycling events are not permitted in wilderness areas.
26. How does NPWS partner with cycling stakeholders?
  1. NPWS may partner and engage with cycling groups, accessibility stakeholders, park users, adjacent land managers, local councils, tourism operators, government departments and others, in both the:
    • planning, design, construction and maintenance of cycling tracks, networks and facilities
    • coordination or connection of cycling opportunities with other track networks, facilities or transport hubs.
About the policy

Policy first adopted 1 April 2007
Policy last updated July 2022

Scope and application

This policy applies to all lands acquired or reserved under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NPW Act) except for lands reserved under Part 4A of the Act (unless the Board of Management for those lands has adopted the policy). However, NPWS staff can use the policy as guidance when working with Boards of Management and on Part 4A lands.

This policy applies to roads that are reserved as part of a NPWS park or reserve. NPWS parks and reserves are often traversed by public roads (i.e. not part of the park); cycling access on these roads is outside the scope of this policy.


This policy guides the provision of cycling opportunities in national parks and reserves, consistent with the objects and management principles in the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.


Adaptive bicycle/mountain bike refers to a range of bicycles such as hand cycles, knee cycles, tandem cycles, tricycles, quadricycles or other modified bicycles to suit a person's physical, intellectual, neurological and sensory abilities.

Bicycle means any pedal powered vehicle with wheels, including road bicycles, tricycles, power-assisted pedal cycle/e-bikes/pedelecs, adaptive bicycles and mountain bikes.

Cycling means riding a bicycle (see above definition) in any style. Cycling does not include the riding of motorised bicycles other than those defined as power-assisted pedal cycles.

E-bike means power-assisted pedal cycle.

Management trails are vehicle trails on lands reserved or acquired under the NPW Act and which are maintained by NPWS for the purpose of park management activities. They are generally not open to public motor vehicle access (see Vehicle Access Policy).

Off-track means cycling through the landscape of a park or reserve away from formed roads, management trails or tracks.

Park means a reserve gazetted under the NPW Act, including a national park, nature reserve, historic site, Aboriginal area, state conservation area, karst conservation reserve, or regional park, or any land acquired by the Minister under Part 11 of the Act. It includes a park managed jointly with the Aboriginal community under Part 4A of the Act.

Park road means a road reserved as part of a park or reserve that is open to the public, although they can be closed for park management reasons. They are maintained by NPWS.

Plan of Management means an adopted plan of management for a park.

Power-assisted pedal cycle is a form of bicycle defined by the NSW Road Rules in accordance with Commonwealth law (Vehicle Standard [Australian Design Rule – Definitions and Vehicle Categories] 2005 and Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989). It is currently defined as:

  • designed to be propelled primarily by human power that has one or more auxiliary (electric) propulsion motors attached to assist the rider, but cannot be propelled exclusively by the motors
  • having a combined power output not exceeding 200 watts, or a maximum continued rated power of 250 watts of which the output cuts off when the cycles reach 25 kilometres per hour, or the cyclist stops pedalling
  • weighs less than 35 kilograms.

This type of bicycle may also be referred to as an electrically power-assisted cycle, pedelec or e-bike. This definition does not include any form of vehicle that has an internal combustion engine.

Pedelec means power-assisted pedal cycle.

Road is defined in the roads legislation and means an area that is open to or used by the public and is developed for, or has as one of its main uses, the driving or riding of motor vehicles (see Vehicle Access Policy).

Track means an access way that is not open to motorised vehicles (other than motorised wheelchairs and other mobility devices):

  • Single-use track means a track designated for use by only one form of activity. In this policy, the term is used to describe cycling-only tracks
  • Multi-use track means a track designated for shared use by multiple forms of activity. In some instances, multi-use tracks may be limited to just 2 uses, such as cycling and walking
  • Preferred-use tracks means a type of multi-use track that is designed primarily for cycling, but which other users are not excluded from using.
  • Unauthorised track means a track that has not been approved by the NPWS for construction and/or use as a cycling track in accordance with this policy, a plan of management, the NPW Act or NPW Regulation.


This section outlines NPWS staff with significant responsibilities for ensuring the implementation of the policy.

4. Approval of off-track cyclingArea Manager
22. Minor adjustments to cycling accessDirector or Area manager (depending on level of environmental assessment required)