This is a guest post from Miriam Moore at Women In Urbanism
Road and street networks are so often analysed and assessed regarding their automobile connectivity, that we forget about their function in supporting the street life that surrounds them. Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland is intensifying. In particular our city centre is no longer solely recognised as a business district, but also a central community where families live. Both the increased connectivity to the city by public transport, and its new role as a neighbourhood means that the dominance of its roads as a private car network is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Unfortunately, those who suffer from these networks maintaining their predominance, are society’s most vulnerable.
Every week, one person dies and 14 more are injured on Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland’s streets. Yet, the public has become so acclimatised to this, that mobility-based backlash only occurs when someone needs dental work after a Lime scooter incident. Teaching road safety to children now requires waiting 3 extra seconds for cars running red lights. Crossing during a green man signal is already far too short for little or fragile legs. This is why we at Women in Urbanism are campaigning for slower speeds for safer streets as Auckland Transport enters public engagement in February.
We stand for:
- Lowering of traffic speeds in the city centre to 30km/h across the city centre.
- A network of “car free” streets in the city centre.
- A lower speed limit of 20km/h around schools
- A speed limit of 30km/h in our town centres.
The inequity in the way Auckland builds its streets is blaringly obvious to those who choose not to drive. Car dependence is a choice, however for some reason, in 2018, Auckland’s road network still chooses to accept it as the default position. Our city’s intensification and social well-being demands that this stance is changed. One component of Auckland Transport’s consultation will be the subject of speed limits, and Women in Urbanism would like to fix their current approach and make sure that staying alive is a priority.
Statistics show that women walk more than men, take more regular short trips and that men are more likely to drive. Therefore, car prioritisation makes our road networks inequitable. Within these statistics, the more vulnerable users from minority groups suffer even greater. When cars command our streets, independent mobility is diminished, instead endorsing lifeless, unsafe and inactive transport options.
To ensure a greater diversity of voices are heard during Auckland Transport’s consultation period, we ask that you add your insights through our survey at this link. The louder that we can challenge commonplace ideas of who streets belong to, and whose safety and accessibility is prioritised, the sooner we can prompt action. Please join us in our fight as we begin our campaign in preparation for consolation. As our urbanista hero Jane Jacob’s once said, “cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because and when they are created by everybody”.