Thank you very much for your email to our new Mayor of Lower Hutt, Campbell Barry. This email has been passed on to me as the Healthy Families Hutt Valley Manager. Healthy Families Hutt Valley is part of a national initiative called Healthy Families NZ with the goal of all New Zealanders enjoying health promoting social and physical environments that enable healthy food and physical activity choices, being smokefree, drinking alcohol only in moderation and increasing mental health resilience and wellbeing. Healthy Families Hutt Valley is one of ten Healthy Families NZ locations funded by the Ministry of Health and led locally by Hutt City Council.
Alongside Hutt City Council’s Transport team we are dedicated to making walking and cycling more accessible for our communities. Some highlights from Hutt City Council’s commitment to walking and cycling include:
- Footpath quality – we score well on this in the residents satisfaction survey.
- Pedestrian safety campaigns - ‘Scan the scene for pedestrians’ ran from Feb-Mar 2019 and will run again in 2020.
- Wheelchair Friendly Footpaths budget ($100-$150k in 2019/20) – improve walk offs with smooth ones, targeted areas around retirement villages, CBD and suburban centres, respond to requests from mobility scooter users.
- Footpath renewal and replacement – ongoing maintenance, annual budget of $205k now attracts NZTA subsidy so we’ve doubled our budget.
- Urban Cycleways projects – our new cycleways are mostly shared paths, creating new safe routes for pedestrians as well. Same for Hutt River Trail works.
- Active travel in schools – our contractor Sherie Wright promotes walking to school, walking school buses and more. This year 22 schools took part in Movin’ March (https://www.movinmarch.com/) with Greater Wellington’s regional active travel promotion setting the scene for the rest of the year.
- Our Central City Transformation Plan and RiverLink will result in our CBD streets being more pedestrian-friendly (reduced CBD speed limit), and pedestrian spaces e.g. the Promenade
- NZTA Speed Management Guide – in future speed limits may be lowered on our urban and residential streets, significantly reducing crash risks and risks to pedestrians and cyclists.
- New NZ Road Safety Strategy ‘Road to Zero’ about to be released (https://www.transport.govt.nz/multi-modal/keystrategiesandplans/road-safety-strategy/). This is likely to have a stronger emphasis on walking (and cycling) safety, with flow-on effects for our Council.
Healthy Families Hutt Valley also has a dedicated role that is focused on active transport and healthy urban design. Mark Shanks who is our Healthy City Design Lead has met with Ellen Blake previously and we are working towards a number of the opportunities that you have highlighted below that local government has a key leadership role in. Our work is currently focused on:
- Working in partnership with NZTA, Sport NZ and Hutt City Council to transform some of our suburban street environments to encourage more walking, cycling and play (https://www.nzta.govt.nz/roads-and-rail/innovating-streets/case-studies/hutt-city-play-streets/).
- Advocate for increased investment and prioritisation of walking and cycling across the Hutt Valley through planning and decision making.
- Providing street activation events like ‘Wicked Wheels’ to showcase cycling and walking as a fun and healthy way to get around our city(http://healthyfamilieslowerhutt.org.nz/about-us/media-releases/town-streets-come-alive/).
- Engaging with our communities to understand the barriers and opportunities to walking and cycling to inform planning and decision making.
We are grateful for the support and advocacy of Living Streets Aotearoa and would welcome the continued support and opportunity to work together to ensure walking becomes a preferred choice of transport mode for our communities.
Healthy Families Lower Hutt Manager
Healthy Families Lower Hutt, Hutt City Council, Pelorus Trust Sports House, Hutt Park, Seaview, Private Bag 31912, Lower Hutt 5040, New Zealand