Press release, immediate
This week, Parliament’s Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee will hear submissions on Jo Clendons petition asking for children up to 14 and accompanying adults to be allowed to cycle on footpaths.
Living Streets Aotearoa (LSA), New Zealand’s pedestrian advocacy association, will be asking about the safety of people who currently walk on those footpaths and asking the committee to recommend the law not be changed.
Currently footpaths are intended for pedestrians and mobility device users but exceptions are also made for posties and children riding small-wheeled bikes and others using small-wheeled recreational devices.
Footpaths are a sanctuary for the people who walk, children skipping, the elderly, pram pushers, wheelchairs, the physically disabled, the blind and those with hearing loss. It is a safe place to walk, stop, sojourn, run and skip. For some people it is the only way they can get around and participate in society.
It is really important that Parliament doesn’t compromise the safety of one group for the safety of another especially when calming traffic will cater for the needs of cyclists - young and old.
The problem, as so many submitters supporting Jo’s petition have said, is that the roads are too dangerous because there is too much traffic travelling too fast. So let us address the cause of the problem rather than creating new problems by mixing cyclists and pedestrians.
We agree with the multitude of transport planners who say we need to slow traffic in urban areas and build separated cycleways on busy arterials. This is what has happened in places like Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands where cycling rates are so much higher than in NZ.
Japan is trying to get cyclists off its footpaths because of the problems it is causing as their people get older. NZ is facing the same aging of our population.
At a glance, footpaths may appear like no one uses them but they are filled with constantly changing people during the day, all with different purposes. Starting with early runners, walking commuters, school children, shoppers and the elderly, lunchtime strollers, afternoon walking groups, school children returning home, commuters again, then the after dinner walkers or runners. This piece of the road (footpath) is being used all day and walking is now the number one recreation in NZ.
Reading the submissions (480 in total) we find others wanting no change to the law. Blind and sight-reduced citizens, Grey Power, Disabled associations, Councils, Road controlling Authorities, lots of Nelson people (who are experiencing narrow shared paths) and bike groups like Spokes in Christchurch
Ellen Blake from LSA will appear 10.45am – 11.05am Thursday 3 November 2016
Select Committee Room 1 Bowen House Parliament Buildings Wellington.
Please contact Andy Smith on 021 474740 for more details