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Survey reveals Waiheke road safety concerns

Published: 21 September 2018

A Waiheke Local Board road safety survey has found most parents want their kids to walk or cycle to school. But too few footpaths, cycleways and crossings, and aggressive drivers mean most parents opt to take their kids to school themselves.

Parents from Te Huruhi and Waiheke primary and high schools submitted 228 responses, confirming cars as the most popular travel choice at 70 per cent, with walking at 27 per cent and cycling at 14 per cent.

More than half of the responding parents worry for their children when they walk, and 71 per cent do when they cycle.

Board chair Cath Handley says it’s no surprise driver behaviour is a concern.

"There is no excuse for poor driving, and Auckland Transport’s recent speed campaign had our backing because the local board has zero tolerance for things that compromise road safety," she says.

Respondents mirrored her concerns. "There are zero cross-walks between our house and the school,” one said. Another commented that there were "too many erratic, speedy drivers", and a third that "people drive too fast and aggressively" on the island.

Despite concerns, 69 per cent of those driving to school said their kids will walk or cycle if safety improves.

"It’s heartening so many want to change, but it is understandable that they want to know it is safe first," Ms Handley says.

Te Huruhi parents are most concerned, with 67 per cent worried by dangerous roads, and 64 per cent by a lack of footpaths. But of those currently choosing to drive, 81 per cent want to walk, with 85 per cent asking for more pedestrian crossings.

Almost a quarter of respondents from the primary schools are interested in a walking school bus.

More than a third of respondents live within a 20-minute walk of school, but cars remain the most popular transport method, and 81 per cent of those who live further away choose to drive.

"Waiheke Island is not a safe place for kids to ride bikes overall, the roads are too dangerous," one parent said.

But there is strong support for improving things. “I get we don't have footpaths on 90 per cent of roads, but for the love of god can we please get them on school routes," one respondent said. "We definitely need proper footpaths, especially for schoolchildren," said another.

"The board is seeking every opportunity to work with Auckland Transport to get more footpaths and cycle-lanes to get our children to school safely," Ms Handley says.

"It’s our number-one walking and cycling priority and AT knows that and is working with us, as are the local police. It’s getting the funds that is the biggest challenge."

Visit the Auckland Council website for a PDF with the full survey results.