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Walk The Talk To Hit The Target

Walk The Talk To Hit The Target

MEDIA RELEASE 18th DECEMBER 2007

"Walk the talk!" urges Living Streets Aotearoa president, Celia Wade-Brown.

The government's stated aim to increase active modes to 30% of all urban journeys by 2040 can only be achieved by a turn-around in funding priorities. It's also too slow for Climate Change imperatives to be met.

Children can't walk to school because they have to cross four lane highways, pedestrian refuges are removed to increase traffic flow, and pedestrian phasing is set so unfairly that even when vehicular traffic is at a crawl people have to wait several minutes to cross a road on foot. Walking school buses are a neat idea for up to 9 year olds, but we should be encouraging older children and teenagers to be independent and enjoy their journeys to school, friends, sport and entertainment on foot, by cycle or by public transport.

Cr Celia Wade-Brown suggests some interim targets and separating the targets for walking and cycling. How about 20% walking and 10% cycling by 2016, the end of the next Long Term Council Community Plan? The two modes both benefit form cleaner air and slower vehicle speeds but other needs are often different. Without separate targets, the two healthiest modes could be competing not co-operating for Council and LTNZ funds.

Now, 18.1% of Wellington residents use active modes for commuting, with Dunedin and Christchurch following at 10.7% and 10% respectively. Auckland City at 8.2% and Waitakere at a very low 3.2% have a long way to go. (source - Census data). Creating compact cities with walkable streets and close destinations takes time but some initiatives can help straight away. Signage, walking maps, footpath maintenance and slower speeds can be implemented rapidly. In the medium term new footpaths, road crossings and beautification of downtown areas lead to vibrant shopping areas, healthier people and lower transport bills. Increased density coupled with good amenities mean good urban planning is paramount in achieving stainable transport.

The public transport goals of doubling the overall public transport mode share by 2040 must address access questions for people on foot. Cities and towns need better footpaths, better bus shelters and safer stations. For more people to catch the bus or train, they have to find the stations inviting, arterial roads crossable and footpaths well lit at night.

Money spent to encourage more people to choose to walk is well spent - and saves the health budget by decreasing obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and cancer,

ends

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