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City puts the focus on 'footpaths for people'

August 11, 2004

City puts the focus on 'footpaths for people'

North Shore City is stepping up to the challenge of improving facilities for pedestrians and other footpath users with a new footpath policy. It was approved by the council's works and environment committee this week and now goes out to the city's six community boards for comment.

Chairperson of the city's works and environment committee, Joel Cayford, says the council is keen to make it safer and easier for people to use the city's pavements, and reaffirm that pedestrians have the primary right of way on footpaths.

"This has been a grey area up until now. This policy looks at footpath design from the pedestrian's point of view. Many private driveways have been built so cars can swing in and out of driveways at speed, putting vulnerable footpath users at risk. The emphasis now is on firmly defining who and what footpaths are for.

"They are in fact important public spaces outside your front gate. They must be a place where kids can play on their bikes, walk to school and go to the shops safely. Car owners must understand they have no right of way across a footpath. The policy states that footpaths are primarily for people - not cars," he says.

The draft policy includes design and maintenance standards for footpaths and aims to provide a citywide pedestrian network, especially around town centres. An education and publicity campaign will be launched with the adoption of the new policy in December. This will be designed to encourage careful driving when crossing a footpath. A complementary North Shore City walking strategy and action plan will be developed by the end of the year.

Joel Cayford says that ensuring high standards of design and maintenance of the city's footpaths is just as important as keeping roads safe and in good order. "We have over 950km of footpaths in our city with a replacement value of around $63million. It's a key part of our transport and community infrastructure. We need to ensure we pay attention to it."

He says the council is spending $1.6m over the next three years on walking and cycling facilities. "Our city is showing a strong commitment to investing in improving facilities like footpaths," says Joel Cayford. The education policy will concentrate on ensuring the public understands the purpose of the policy.

"Drivers have to walk the talk too. We are all pedestrians when we get out of our cars. It is inappropriate to park across or on footpaths and we'll be stepping up enforcement on this. It is also much safer to drive forwards out of a driveway - reversing out puts pedestrians at greater risk. We will also be building on our recent driveways safety campaign to educate drivers, pedestrians and cyclists," he says.

The council's draft footpath policy also covers provision for other footpath users including shared cycle/pedestrian facilities and mobility scooters. "We recognise there are many users besides pedestrians of our footpaths including kids on scooters, skateboards and bikes. We have to manage those different users and put provision in place. We are also looking at maintaining the special character of areas such as heritage zones and beachfronts with specific footpath design standards. We're trying to avoid situations in heritage areas where asphalt gradually gives way to white concrete accessway crossings."

Joel Cayford says the council's many consultation processes over the years on transport and city issues have shown that the public want safe and well maintained footpaths. "We intend to give them that. And then we will encourage them to use them."

ENDS

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