Give Road Users Protection Before Mindless Road Building
Give Vulnerable Road Users Protection Before Mindless Road Building
NZ School Speeds welcomes further Government funding of urban cycleways, but spokesperson Lucinda Rees has reservations for vulnerable road user safety, unless there is an enforced change of culture with laws that protect them.
Rees suggests: "Before spending heaps on road building, the Government needs to introduce laws that protect vulnerable road users. More cycleways will encourage more children to make journeys to school by bike, freeing up roads near schools, but at students peril."
There is no mandatory passing distance for cyclists on New Zealand roads. School children especially will have to travel on roads to get to cycleways. The recommended cyclist passing distance is 1 metre for drivers travelling at up to 60km/h and 1.5 metres for speeds over 60km/h and is widely in force in other countries. Currently there is only suggested cycling passing distance in New Zealand, leading to a driving culture that often ignores a safe passing distance, putting many cyclists at risk.
NZ School Speeds rallies for consistent reduced speeds outside schools, but more measures need to be put in place to change the culture of New Zealand drivers. "Introducing recommended consistent 30km/h speed limits outside schools at peak times will be the catalyst to changing how drivers view vulnerable road users", says Rees. "Currently the speed limit outside some rural schools can be up to 100km/h, giving drivers the impression that there is no need to slow for school children. Consistent slow speed limits will change this perception of our most vulnerable road user, as will cyclist passing distance, but the Minister of Transport Simon Bridges needs to act before there is any change in driving culture."
The Netherlands is well known as an active cycling nation, with many safe cycleways. But before the cycleways came easy to follow rules that protected cyclists and other vulnerable road users, respecting their vulnerability near cars. Ms Rees wants similar action here in New Zealand: "The Government is trying to run before it can walk and hasn't given vulnerable road users any thought. Make vulnerable road users a priority, before running off to spend tax payer money."
"Getting school children and others on bikes will free up roads, that are congested with school time traffic. Slowing drivers outside schools will keep traffic moving and enforce a change of culture from New Zealand drivers, while giving school children a safety net when they are at their most distracted. Minister Bridges needs to act now and protect vulnerable road users and then he can throw money into road building."