Give Streets Back to Children
Following the coroners report about the death of 6 year old Carla Neems, the road safety group NZ School Speeds wants school aged children to be allowed to walk or cycle to school. Instead we need safer roading infrastructure for our most vulnerable road users.
“Many parents are unable to take their children to school. Preventing children of certain ages from travelling independently to school is targeting the poor, as both parents may have to work. Instead of blaming parents for letting their children travel independently to school we need a change of driving culture and simplify rules with consistency. The coroners call for audio proximity alarms to trucks is timely as there are far too many vulnerable road users being hit by trucks,” says Ms Rees.
“When we were young, we walked or cycled to school and afterwards we would explore. Phones didn’t distract us and our fast food was occasional sweets. We knew our local environment and learnt lessons from mistakes. Nowadays few children walk or cycle to school and fewer explore their local environment leading to mental health problems and obesity.”
Currently the Government are consulting on road safety with “Road to Zero” https://www.transport.govt.nz/multi-modal/keystrategiesandplans/road-safety-strategy/ and this is a chance for all to submit their ideas. Submissions close 5:00pm on Wednesday 14 August 2019.
NZ School Speed are making a submission, asking for consistent speed limits outside all schools of no more than 30km/h at peak times, as recommended by World Health Organisation and 60km/h at other times of the day. So that children can safely walk or cycle to school, roads - even in rural areas - should have a maximum of 60km/h speed limits extended to 3 kilometres from schools, so children can safely walk or cycle if they don’t have access to a school bus. And we need a mandatory cyclist passing gap of 1.5 metres if travelling over 60 km/h and 1 metre for cars travelling up to that speed.
No child should die on their way to or from school, as getting an education is a human right. Let’s push to give the streets back to children by demanding safer streets and stop blaming parents who are raising confident and independent young individuals like Carla.