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King: Launch of 40km zone for Hamilton schools

Annette King

5 February, 2008
Speech at the launch of 40km zone for Hamilton schools

It is difficult to think of a more positive assignment for my first official transport engagement of the year than to be here at Fairfield Intermediate officially launching slower speed zones for Hamilton’s schools.

Thank you very much for inviting me to join you. I have taken a very close and personal interest in Hamilton’s campaign for 40km zones around schools. In terms of relative transport priorities, “switching on” safety around schools must be right up there at the top of any list.

Before I acknowledge a number of people who are here today, I want to thank my parliamentary colleague and Hamilton West MP Martin Gallagher for all he has done to help make this day become a reality.

After I became Transport Minister nearly two years ago, Martin immediately lobbied me to come to Hamilton to listen to what your school and community were saying about safer school zones, and, as Martin knows, I have since be able to promote those ideas around different parts of the country.

I also want to pass on Education Minister Chris Carter’s best wishes for the success of your initiative. As Chris says, what is so rewarding about this event is that it is not about road safety at one school, or even two schools. It is about safety at 18 primary and intermediate schools in the Hamilton area, a fantastic example of co-operation across the whole community.

Many people have contributed, and I particularly want to acknowledge Hamilton City Council, Mayor Bob Simcock and chief executive Michael Redman, Land Transport New Zealand and the Ministry of Transport, the Police, H.M.I. Technologies and, of course, Fairfield Intermediate principal Bill Noble and representatives of the 17 other schools involved in the project.
This initiative is about the safety of the pupils attending your schools, the safety of their families, and the safety of your staff.

Unfortunately nowadays more than two-thirds of all trips to school are made by car. We all know what this means –- too many vehicles trying to get a parking place at the school gate in the morning and afternoon.

This makes it dangerous for pupils to get in and out while cars are whizzing past. And I hate to say it, but this sometimes leads to bad behaviour by parents trying to squeeze their cars into too few places, or double parking on the road. Sometimes it can look like a game of musical cars!

In the past five years, 31 young pedestrians and 28 young cyclists have been injured in traffic accidents in Hamilton City on week days before or after school. Eight of these young people have suffered serious injuries.

It’s good to know that from today, it will be safer for pupils from the 18 schools to get to and from school, whether they are walking, cycling or travelling by car.

I know of the positive results of slower speed zones at schools in other parts of the country. Cars really DO slow down. Parents feel more confident about their children walking to school, and the pupils themselves feel safer.

Equally, it makes everyone think more positively about the best ways of travelling to and from school – and this is something I’d also like to touch on.

I am told that all of the schools represented here this morning are hard at work on School Travel Plans. This is fantastic news, and I applaud your involvement.

School Travel Plans are a practical way of involving the whole community in school transport. They are all about improving road safety, cutting back on car trips and encouraging children to use more sustainable modes of transport.

After all, walking or cycling to school can be fun. It means catching up with friends before school, getting some good exercise, building up road safety skills and helping keep the environment cleaner by saving a car trip – all at the same time.

It’s little wonder that schools and local councils that have adopted travel plans say that they have contributed greatly to safety.

I congratulate all of you in taking this positive step in road safety. Thank you again for inviting me to join you. I am very happy to ‘flick the switch’, so to speak, on making it safer for your children to get to school and home again. Thank you.


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