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Call for safety focus

No one should be hurt using our roads

Published: 23 April 2018

With serious injuries and fatalities increasing, Auckland needs a greater focus on road safety.

Waitematā Local Board Chair Pippa Coom attended the Local Government Road Safety Summit in Wellington earlier this month. Delegates discussed measures that would have the greatest effect on road safety, and how to influence road safety planning.

Pressing road safety issues

Coom’s monthly board report outlined a 78 per cent increase in fatalities since 2014, and a 73 per cent jump in the rate of serious injuries, as reported in an Auckland Transport commissioned report, but she told the summit she had hope because the local and central government agreed reform was needed.

"We can be brave and reject business as usual thanks to what is happening at the grassroots, the advocates who are the wind in our sails of change.

"Of 29 world cities, Auckland has the second-highest pedestrian fatality rate, the sixth highest for cyclists, and the worst for motorcyclists for distance travelled,” she said. "That indicates we are experiencing a systems failure with pressing road safety issues."

Coom said more road-users, high speeds and inadequate infrastructure contributed to the problem. Roads were designed for high speed but more people were using them with fewer resources to deal with things like speeding or failing to stop for red lights, and infrastructure and design were sometimes inadequate.

"We need to prioritise road safety, accept slower speeds, and change the way we design streets."

She said the government’s draft land transport policy statement prioritised safety, and Auckland was close to adopting Vision Zero – which is in use across major world cities like New York and based on the idea of eliminating road deaths.

Zero deaths on our roads

"Waitematā Local Board has identified an accessible, connected and safe transport network with well-designed streets as one of its key initiatives and continues to advocate for street designs that deliver slower traffic speeds, better intersections, and footpaths and cycle lanes designed and built to worldwide best practice.

"We say a comprehensive approach to safety should include a target of zero serious injuries or deaths on our roads. We want to do what is necessary to ensure the people of Tāmaki Makaurau are able to enjoy a transport system that is free of serious injury and death."

Coom said good public transport, and safe walkways and cycleways were necessary and meant less congestion, but separation was essential because more people would cycle on a safe network.