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City Council Wants More People To Walk

Walking, as a transport mode and being good for health and recreation, is often underestimated and poorly understood.

So the Christchurch City Council has produced a 34-page pedestrian strategy called A Step in the Right Direction. It is published after public consultation was held on a draft document in 1999 and seeks to improve the pedestrian environment and to encourage people to walk more often, and for health and recreation.

The strategy, the first to be drawn up in New Zealand, says that as the city grows and there “are more cars, cycles and pedestrians on the streets it is becoming increasingly difficult to meet all the needs of these different forms of travel.”

It is intended that the strategy will lead towards a better overall priority for pedestrian needs in the city.

While walking is one of the most common and basic forms of transportation it should be considered the primary form, as it is sustainable and environmentally friendly. Walking is taken for granted and the strategy aims to get a better overall priority for pedestrians.

“In Christchurch, walking needs to grow as a key transport option in the future,” the document says. This is because of increasing population, an increase in the older population for whom walking is beneficial, concerns about the sustainability of the urban transport system and increasing traffic congestion.

Walking facts

One fifth of all journeys are on foot. Each year it is estimated that New Zealanders undertake 1080 million pedestrian trips, spend 192 million hours as pedestrians, and cross 2045 millions roads on foot.

Nationally 30 per cent of people under 20 walk as their main transport mode and 28 per cent of older adults.

In Christchurch a decline has been seen in the number of people walking as their main method of travelling to work from 5.4 per cent in 1986 to 4.9 per cent in 1996.

On the other side of the coin, pedestrians nationally account for 28 per cent of the urban road accidents and nearly 1000 are admitted to hospital.

In Christchurch pedestrians make up about 25 per cent of road deaths.

More than half of the pedestrians killed in Christchurch in the last six years was over the age of 60.

Christchurch has about 60 organised walking groups, 10 run by the City Council.

Strategic policy

The City Council, with its new strategy, will support pedestrians and encourage walking as a method of travel and social recreation.

An implementation and monitoring plan is being developed and data will be collected each year for a three-yearly update of the strategy.

Further information: The strategy is available on http://www.ccc.govt.nz/Publications/Pedestrianstrategy/ or phone: Mike Thomson, Pedestrian Advocate: 371 1950 or email: Michael.Thomson@ccc.govt.nz.

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