Listen to Auckland’s children and keep safe speed limits

Listen to Auckland’s children and keep safe speed limits

Sue Cardwell

Schoolchildren cluster around a map to which they are adding post-its.

“I hope we have more bike lanes and skate parks in our neighbourhood. And less speed around school so we can bike, scooter and skate to school.”

Sanavi, 10, Kelston Primary School

“They cannot drive, they cannot vote and they have the most to lose if we cannot come up with greener transport solutions.”

“The bicycle as ‘constructive hope’: Children, climate and active transport” by the University of Auckland’s Dr Kirsty Wild and Professor Alistair Woodward’

Here’s our challenge – the choices we make for Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland are not for us. They’re for future generations – the Aucklanders who are children today. And some of our choices are locking them into a lifestyle they don’t enjoy.

An example is the Government’s proposed removal of safe speeds, including permanent 30 km/h zones around schools. (30 km/h is the speed at which a crash is, usually, survivable. At 50 km/h chances of death are much, much higher.) 30 km/h speed limits mean that kids can safely cycle on the road with cars – and when they need to cross the road they are safe to do so.

Source: Auckland Transport

Each of us has an opportunity to have our say on this proposal. When we do so, we should put ourselves in the shoes of our children. After all, they have the most to lose.

Children know they need sustainable transport solutions

Children today are acutely aware of the climate danger they are in. They are the generation we expect to live a zero-carbon lifestyle, and it is clear that – while many adults don’t hold that vision for the future – they expect us to provide it for them. Not in a decade or two. Now.

A 2023 Crank study of 181 Auckland 6- to 11-year-olds found that children overwhelmingly prefer active transport especially cycling and walking. 86% selected one or more active modes as their preference, while just 17% chose cars. (That’s the opposite of what happens in reality: 73% of New Zealand children’s travel time is spent in a car.)

Kids prefer cycling and walking because they want transport to be social, active, and good for the environment. The Crank study linked above is well worth a read.

Safety is the barrier, and safe infrastructure is the solution

Dr Wild and Professor Woodward’s paper goes on to explain:

“As driving has increased, our carbon emissions have ballooned, and children’s lives are diminished. … The chief reason, identified by both kids and parents, is vehicle traffic. In England, a study of child mobility over three generations found that the home range, the distance over which children are permitted to roam unattended, reduced by 90%. In the same period, traffic multiplied 10-fold.”

Since their introduction in 2020, safe speeds have saved around 80 lives from being cut short on Auckland’s roads. Let’s make sure the Government listens to our children and keeps roads safe to bike, walk and scoot.

How to have your say

It’s quick and simple to give your feedback on the Government’s proposal. Give feedback here.

Update: We have put together a quickfire guide:

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