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School Road Safety Initiatives Promoted

Auckland City is placing a higher priority on programmes to increase the safety of children on our roads.

The Council’s newly-appointed school road safety co-ordinator, Mariken Flapper, says that as traffic congestion increases, such programmes are essential to the safety of children.

Auckland City identified the need for a role that concentrates specifically on school road safety; now one of its two road safety co-ordinators deals with community issues, while another – Mariken Flapper in her new position – will focus on reducing the risks for children as they travel between home and school.

The road safety initiatives include the Safe Routes to School programme, which has been successfully operating in Otahuhu and is now about to be launched in Mt Roskill. Safe Routes to School is based on an international model and aims to reduce injuries to child pedestrians and cyclists by creating safer road environments.

Another programme that Auckland City supports is the walking school bus, which involves a rostered group of parents taking turns walking children to and from school.

“This has numerous benefits, including reducing congestion at the school gate, educating children about road safety, children who are healthier, active and independent and more free time for parents,” says Mariken Flapper.

Another programme, Chaos at the School Gate, offers parents and schools advice on how they can reduce school gate congestion, while parking officers are used to enforce parking restrictions.

Mariken Flapper says that as traffic densities worsen, parents become more concerned about letting their children make their own way to school and are more likely to drive them.

“However, the Catch-22 to this situation is that the rise in the number of parents driving their children to school is increasing the risks for pupils who walk or cycle to the classroom.”

Parents are justified in their concerns as 30 per cent of pedestrian injuries within the Auckland region involve school-aged children. Mariken Flapper says children’s perceptual skills are not fully developed so it is important they are taught how to use roads safely before being allowed to walk to school.

Mariken Flapper says her background means she is familiar with school environments and has a concern for the health and safety of children. She comes to Auckland City with a teaching diploma, a degree in physical education and primary school teaching experience.

ENDS

For further information, please contact:
* Mariken Flapper, school road safety co-ordinator, Auckland City, tel: 307 7639.


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