Following on from the recent posts on De Pijp in Amsterdam and riding to school, this article recently appeared on the View from the Cycle Path blog which really leaped out after the recent posts and thinking about the supposed priority for children in NZ roading policies.
As a new father of a little girl, I really lament the fact that she will not grow up having the same freedom of movement as I did as a child in Christchurch in the 1980s. Ironically, the earthquake that destroyed my home city may be the saving grace for resurrecting Christchurch’s bicycle culture. The recent comparisons on Transport Blog between cycle spending in Auckland and Christchurch tell the story very clearly – Auckland’s “leaders” dont care about the independence or safety of our children.
This is not an accident and it is not the result of anything inherently special or different about Auckland. It is a conscious and calculated decision to prioritise the movement of large numbers of cars over the safety of our most vulnerable citizens. The New Zealand Medical Journal has recently published a paper stating:
Child passenger injury from road traffic crashes is a leading contributor to New Zealand’s paediatric trauma-related mortality and morbidity. New Zealand has significantly higher rates of child passenger injury than internationally comparable countries.
I am not going to just regurgitate the blog post for you as it is impossible to state the clear cut arguments any better than David Hembrow has. However, I just want to quickly state some statistics that illustrate the point:
NZ – Third worst child road death toll [Editor’s note: however please see this paper from NZTA which seems to suggest it is not quite that bad] and the highest rate of child and adolescent deaths from injuries in the OECD. According to SafeKids.org.nz, 38.8% of child deaths between 2001 and 2005 were the result of traffic related incidents.
In the Netherlands, statistics like this in the 1960s lead to a massive outcry and a complete rethink on transport policy. What does it say about New Zealand society that the same thing isn’t happening here?