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New NZ Standard for pedestrian etiquette

New NZ Standard for pedestrian etiquette

It is well established that traffic congestion has a major negative impact on economies; however, until recently little thought had been given to the economic and social impacts of pedestrian behaviour.

Recent research has somewhat predictably shown that pedestrian congestion and inconsiderate pedestrian behaviour has a similar if somewhat smaller impact on the nation’s economy. As a result, Standards New Zealand (SNZ) began development on a Standard for pedestrian behaviour on 1st April 2005. Provisionally entitled Pedestrian etiquette, the new Standard may be the first of its kind in the world.

Rob Steele SNZ CEO is enthusiastic about the subject “We have clear enforced rules for driving on the road and many of these rules should be applied to pedestrians as well. The Standard will cover such things as keeping left at all times unless overtaking, ensuring there is adequate room for any overtaking manoeuvre and will also give clear guidelines on where and when pedestrians can stop for a conversation.”

Commenting on the current situation Steele says “At lunchtime Wellington City centre is a nightmare; many people can’t seem to grasp the basics of good pedestrian etiquette. For example, couples walk at half speed hand in hand on the right hand side of the footpath. We believe that much of the ‘wrong side of footpath’ behaviour involves foreign tourists and so SNZ is looking at ways that the new Standard can be distributed to visitors when they clear customs.”

A selection of the more ‘radical ideas’ that interested parties are promoting include banning parents with prams during ‘rush-hour’ and the introduction of a compulsory speed for walking on escalators, with fines being imposed for any who refuse to maintain a reasonable pace. However, as with all Standards developed by SNZ the content will be agreed by committee consensus and so the final document may take a softer approach to these issues.

“Although Standards NZ has no power to enforce the Standard we believe the Ministry of Silly Walks is considering making the Standard mandatory”. It is anticipated that the Standard will be published on April 1, 2006.


Notes to editors Standards New Zealand is the trading arm of the Standards Council, a crown entity operating under the Standards Act 1998 The Standards Council is an appointed body with representatives from all sectors of the community and it oversees the development of Standards and Standards related products Standards New Zealand is a not for profit, self funded organisation, generating revenues from contracts with industry and government, as well as seminars and sales of products Standards are drafted by selected committees with input of relevant organisations and industries. The draft Standard is also submitted for public comment before publishing.

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