In February last year, the Swedish Government hosted the 3rd Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety, at the request of the UN General Assembly. The conference culminated in the Stockholm Declaration, which resolves to strengthen efforts to improve safety. This declaration provides critical guidance for New Zealand as we strive to transform our transport system from tragically taking the life of one person a day, on average, into a system without death or serious injury.

Image Credit: WHO

Some history to the Stockholm Declaration 2020

In 2010, traffic crashes claimed nearly 1.3 million lives internationally. The UN responded to this crisis in road safety with the Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011–2020. In 2015, the UN produced the plan Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which called for traffic fatalities to be halved by 2030. Yet while many countries’ practices improved, other countries failed to make much headway. The WHO’s Global status report on road safety 2018 reported traffic fatalities had risen to 1.35 million lives lost per year, and said:

Road traffic injury is now the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged 5–29 years…

We must return our streets to our children. They have a right to feel safe on them…

The UN appointed an Academic Expert Group, chaired by Prof. Claes Tingvall of the Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, to produce a set of recommendations for a 2nd Decade of Action for Global Road Safety:

The Academic Expert Group considers these additional recommendations to be essential strategic prerequisites for achieving the goal of reducing global road traffic fatalities by half by 2030. These recommendations are necessarily far-reaching both in scope and ambition. The Group believes that the best strategy for reaching the goal for the second decade is to maintain commitment to prior recommendations and immediately initiate action on each of these new recommendations with sufficient intensity to achieve substantial progress by the middle of the decade…

From these expert recommendations, a draft declaration was penned and Governments were asked for their feedback. This was assimilated into a final version, the Stockholm Declaration, which was read out at the Ministerial Conference in Sweden in February last year and endorsed by the UN in August.

In this post I would like to discuss the input given by New Zealand’s Ministry of Transport on the draft Stockholm Declaration, sent to the Secretariat for EU and International Affairs in January 2020. The feedback consistently sought to reduce the declaration’s strength.

No pedestrian crossing or cycling infrastructure at Mt Wellington Hwy – Sylvia Park Rd.

Targets

The draft Stockholm Declaration called upon member states to reduce road traffic fatalities by 50% by 2030. NZ’s Ministry of Transport didn’t suggest a change to this figure but did suggest the wording be softened: 

The call to soften the statement was successful, albeit with slightly different wording to the Ministry’s suggestion.

The reasoning the Ministry gave for their suggestion is:

We commend this aspirational global goal, but have concerns about the ability of some (particularly lower income) Member States to achieve a 50% reduction by 2030, given the scale and level of investment and lead-in time required on the key actions that the evidence tells us can make the biggest impact on road safety.

We note that New Zealand has recently introduced a 40% reduction target under its new road safety strategy. This was determined by the Government as being an ambitious but achievable target, based on modelling of a substantial programme of road safety interventions over the next 10 years, including considerably increasing our investment in safety infrastructure, targeted speed limit changes on the highest risk parts of the network, increasing levels of enforcement (including building a new camera network), and lifting the standards of our vehicle fleet.

Given the challenges New Zealand faces in achieving its 40% target, even whilst putting in place many of the key interventions that are being considered as part of the Stockholm Declaration, we imagine that lower income countries may find this even harder, and note also that countries further advanced are beginning to see rates of deaths and serious injuries stabilising.

New Zealand’s story can indeed help inform international advice. Yet our story is not that safety improvements have proven too expensive for a rapid reduction in crash and injury rates to be viewed as pragmatic. Rather, our story is a warning of what happens when the most economical ways to rapidly improve safety are resisted:

  • Our speed limits are systematically too high across the network. At least 87% of New Zealand does not have a safe and appropriate speed limit. The government has declined to use default speed limit changes, despite considerable support for this approach in feedback.
  • We are still building and widening roads, thus inducing traffic. This exacerbates our safety problems and wastes transport budget that could be used on safety.
  • We have not introduced significant urban road reallocation programmes to fast-track modeshift to public and active transport modes.
  • We have not introduced a comprehensive red light camera enforcement programme, despite evidence that it pays for itself quickly. The benefit cost ratio is positive, and Waka Kotahi note that costs per installation would likely be much lower if a mass-action programme were progressed, due to economies of scale.
  • Similarly, we have not introduced comprehensive speed limit camera enforcement, despite the evidence that speed cameras pay for themselves within a short period of time.
  • We have not made significant investment in regional rail and coach despite the enormous safety gains this would provide – in fact, we’re barely collecting the data to allow evidenced-based decision making.
  • Our vehicle safety standards are lagging behind those of other OECD countries.
  • We have not introduced annual targets for vehicle travel reduction to all our transport planning (eg 7% reduction per year) despite this approach relieving pressure on transport investment and improving safety outcomes.
  • We have allowed politics and backlash to interrupt and delay moves to introduce better road rules and transport practices to better serve vulnerable road users.

Many of the changes above are cost neutral; some would save us money, and if we stop wasting multiple billions of dollars on new road building we would have plenty of money available for safety improvements. A whole of government approach would recognise that failing to take these steps is placing an enormous economic burden on our country, including via health and environment costs.

In short, the Ministry’s suggestions contributed to a softening of the wording, which could reduce efforts to achieve the 50% target in a number of countries. Yet the suggestions did not accurately reflect our national experience of the true costs of investment in safety.

New Zealand’s unsafe transport system causes many unnecessary deaths and injuries. Image from Stuff.

Speeds

The Academic Expert Group recommended:

that cities mandate a maximum road travel speed limit of 30 kph unless strong evidence exists that higher speeds are safe.

This was changed from “cities” to “areas where vulnerable road users and vehicles mix” for the draft declaration before it was circulated to governments. This wording change increases the scope to include towns and regional pathways where there’s a lot of mixing of modes. It also, correctly, excludes those parts of cities where vulnerable road users are excluded, such as motorways. I mention it because it is good to understand the Academic Expert Group believe the 30 km/hr speed limit should be applied, in general, to cities. This adds extra clarity to the Vision Zero statements.

The Ministry’s suggestion was that these speeds should only be ‘encouraged”. 

Here is the reasoning behind their suggestion:

We strongly support the intent of this Article, and note that New Zealand has recently introduced a new approach to speed management, which includes the requirement for road controlling authorities to reduce speed limits around urban schools to 30 km/hr (or 40 km/h where appropriate) and around rural schools to a maximum of 60 km/h. We have also encouraged local Government to consider lower speeds in areas where there is significant interaction between vehicles and other vulnerable users, as well as introducing a new approach to speed cameras and speed enforcement.

However, there may sometimes be valid reasons for the speed limit on certain roads to be 40 km/hr or higher, or for variable speed limits, to be set on certain roads. While the rationale for this may involve strong evidence that the higher speeds are safe, there may also be other appropriate factors that mean mandating a blanket and fixed travel speed limit may not be practicable or necessarily lead to improved road safety outcomes overall.

For example, some local authorities in New Zealand have already changed speeds to 40 km/h outside schools. We believe focussing effort and investment on reducing the speeds around schools that still have speeds higher than 40 km/hr will have a bigger impact on safety outcomes overall in New Zealand, rather than mandating reducing schools from 40 km to 30 km in the short to medium term.

This is an outright rejection of Vision Zero, so it is good the Ministry were not successful in their bid to dilute the goal. The Ministry should not be claiming there are “valid reasons” for higher speed limits where vulnerable road users and vehicles mix and where there is no strong evidence that higher speeds are safe.

Nor should they have so specifically rejected the idea of achieving 30 km/hr outside all schools, urban and rural. These are places where vulnerable road users and vehicles do mix.

This resistance to following the international advice on safer speeds continues; in Waka Kotahi’s current consultion on speed limits, they have ignored the Stockholm Declaration outright by choosing not to introduce 30 km/hr speed limits throughout cities and outside all schools, urban and rural, as the declaration requires.

Image Credit: WHO

Children

The Ministry’s reasoning above isn’t focused on protecting our children. It can be contrasted with the focus given by the Academic Expert Group to children, recommending governments study the routes children travel:

In order to protect the lives, security and well-being of children and ensure the education and sustainability of future generations, we recommend that cities, road authorities and citizens examine the routes frequently traveled by children to attend school and for other purposes, identify needs, including changes that encourage active modes such as walking and cycling, and incorporate Safe System principles to eliminate risks along these routes.

It can also be contrasted with New Zealanders’ level of concern. One of the themes of feedback for NZ’s Road to Zero policy was:

a call for more attention to be paid to the mobility needs of disabled people and the specific vulnerabilities of particular groups, including children, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, and economically disadvantaged communities

Image credit: Cowan

Vehicles

The Academic Expert Group recommended:

In order to achieve higher and more equitable levels of road safety across the globe, we recommend that vehicle manufacturers, governments and fleet purchasers ensure that all vehicles produced for every market be equipped with recommended levels of safety performance, that incentives for use of vehicles with enhanced safety performance be provided where possible, and that the highest possible levels of vehicle safety performance be required for vehicles used in private and public vehicle fleets. 

This is a serious issue for New Zealand, as:

New Zealand has a high proportion of unsafe vehicles. About 45% of the light vehicles in New Zealand’s fleet have a safety rating of 1- or 2 stars out of five – and you’re 90% more likely to die in a 1 star car than a 5 star car.

The Ministry recommended that governments promote, rather than ensure, safer vehicle fleets, and again they were not successful – although the feedback from other countries clearly softened it to only new vehicles, which is a significant change:

Here is the Ministry’s reasoning:

We agree that improving the level of safety performance in vehicles is critical to achieving reductions in deaths and serious injuries. We note that some member states (particularly in the EU) have strong levers to set regulations for vehicles entering their market. However, smaller states (such as New Zealand) have a considerable used car market and therefore rely on the import of vehicles produced in foreign countries outside of our regulatory control.

For example, the vast majority of New Zealand’s vehicles are sourced from Japan, which traditionally has not regulated specific safety standards at the same pace as the EU. This also means that without careful transition of our vehicle fleet, there may be significant impacts on social equity and access for New Zealanders.

Nevertheless, raising standards for vehicles entering New Zealand is a key road safety action for 2020-2022. A comprehensive policy investigation is underway to assess whether regulations should be introduced to mandate key safety technologies, while mitigating supply and equity issues for consumers.

There are many avenues the Government should be pursuing to improve the safety of our passenger vehicles, light trucks and heavy trucks. But timely improvement is unlikely if the Ministry insist their role is only to “promote” safer vehicles.

The argument about equity ignores two points:

  1. Our population are paying the price for sluggish policy on vehicle fleets with their lives and health. The most extreme form of inequity is to die in order to let others have cheaper cars.
  2. The Ministry should be adopting transport policy that simultaneously improves safety, environmental and equity outcomes. This is achievable via a radical reduction in the public’s reliance on vehicles, and is entirely consistent with improving the vehicle fleet at the same time.
Image Credit: WHO

In Summary

Each of the suggestions made by our Ministry on the Stockholm Declaration wording involved a weakening of the safety focus.

I believe the Minister should be asking why these suggestions were made, and initiate a review into the quality of Vision Zero training provided for Ministry staff.

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35 comments

  1. One area I think needs improvement is minor-street intersection design.

    When my kids walk to school they have to cross a number of residential streets which all have lots of cars parked on each side. To see what is coming they have to go two metres into the intersection which isn’t particularly safe, and quite confusing for everyone.

    All intersections should be designed so that footpaths extend past the level of parked cars. An example is the corner of Russell & Grey in Palmerston North which has a little peninsula for pedestrians on each side.

    Also, many of these minor-intersections have quite generous curves, allowing cars to travel at speed, which seems unnecessary given they are going into residential streets.

    1. Yes. I need to follow up on the review of the Pedestrian Planning and Design Guide – anyone know if that’s been completed? A couple of years ago I noticed it included this:

      https://imgur.com/X0zSnFT

      I advised WK about it, because It looks like it is designed to downplay the effects of wide roads on pedestrian crossing times. It assumes that a child can be expected to walk out to the edge of a parking zone space before the time to cross starts (whether there are parked cars there or not). That’s clearly inaccurate – the time should be calculated from the moment they step off the kerb. This will be leading to skewed decisions about whether crossing infrastructure should be added.

  2. Very frustrating. The many cheap safety fixes don’t happen, and then NZUP swallows the money.

    People accelerate and decelerate on my local streets in order to save a couple of seconds. I think having 50 km/hr as the speed limit means people think that’s an appropriate speed. And I see no clear message from local or central government that they shouldn’t be driving above 30 km/hr.

    I appreciate the post – it clarifies this isn’t just a matter of time; it’s a mindset problem at the Ministry about it.

  3. “The most extreme form of inequity is to die in order to let others have cheaper cars.” – You said it, girl. But all we get is yadda yadda too expensive. I reckon the Ministry’s had an agenda of trying to make sure every New Zealander can have a car. And no care about this would affect kids out walking.

    “We believe focussing effort and investment on reducing the speeds around schools that still have speeds higher than 40 km/hr will have a bigger impact on safety outcomes overall in New Zealand, rather than mandating reducing schools from 40 km to 30 km in the short to medium term.”

    What a load of bullshit. We can put the speed limits down to 30 km/hr outside every school in the time frame required. So glad the UN ignored these monkeys on that.

  4. Fascinated by this. So we are in a time of enormous change, in these moments society will always divide into idealists and realists (dreamers and cynics), or rather new external pressures force people into acting somewhere along this continuum. Usually out of sight ministry apparatchiks suddenly find themselves having to make a call, and guess what?

    When push comes to shove, what really matters? The status quo, no change, even preferring the actual death and maiming of children to ‘risking’ changing things as trivial as speed limits, they default to that side of the ledger. It’s just unrealistic you see. Wow.

    Surely there’s a post-office in the Pitcairns, or culvert on the Chatams, these ghouls can be sensibly requested to take their finely tuned realism to?

  5. We have what is euphemistically called a “smart motorway” in Wellington, which carries incoming 100km/h traffic right in as far as Vivian St, before reducing to 50km through the city. Frequently car drivers from the motorway are still in mental speed mode as they drive through the city and across Cuba St, the busy funky pedestrian route through the city. Drivers regularly exceed 50 coming down Vivian St – hence we quite enjoy the traffic congestion caused further on at the Basin which clogs the whole system up and slows the traffic down. Sadly we do not have 30km zone on the actual street level parts of the ‘motorway’ through the city.

    However: I wonder if the NZTA could use its giant smart signs to give out usefully smart messages to the car-driving population. Over the long weekend they were giving traffic time advice, detailing the driving time to Taupo instead of the usual advice on time to Johnsonville. Other useful messages from the smart signs could be “Slow down – pedestrians ahead” or “Slow down – drunkards perambulating” (there must be a shorter version of that somewhere) – and also a really needed: “Turn headlights ON !” There are far too many drivers coming into the city in the evening with no lights on – scary to think that they may have been driving on the motorway like that.

    Hopefully NZTA are reading this column – its an easy fix which will cost nothing and could save lives. Could you please just go ahead and do this? Please?

    1. SMART in Europe is variablespeed control backed up with speed cameras on motorways. That would dramatically improve driving behaviour on our motorways.

  6. So has NZ endorsed the Stockholm Declaration and does that mean we are committed to abiding by it??

    1. The Ministry of Transport has said:

      New Zealand was represented at the 3rd Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety. Minister Genter was invited but was unable to attend due to a prior engagement. Ministry of Transport and NZTA officials attended on her behalf… The Stockholm Declaration was announced at the conference, but conference delegates were not asked to endorse the document.

      This article may or may not be right in suggesting otherwise: “All the countries in attendance endorsed the declaration—except one: The U.S. delegation refused to sign it.”

      https://archive.curbed.com/2020/2/25/21150851/stockholm-declaration-road-safety-vision-zero#:~:text=Last%20week%2C%20transportation%20leaders%20from,delegation%20refused%20to%20sign%20it.

      But it demonstrates the position New Zealand needed to take if it wasn’t willing to abide by the commitments in it. The officials did not refuse to be part of the Declaration because that would’ve looked bad internationally. As to what level of obligation that puts New Zealand under; I don’t know.

      But I think proposing legislative changes that are in conflict with the declaration, so soon after it was endorsed by the UN General Congress, is something the lawyers should be looking into.

    2. No. Unless a declaration is incorporated into New Zealand law it is simply a statement. An activist judge might rely on one when inventing new caselaw but most of our judges are better than that. Some declarations come with a monitoring regime where a couple of overpaid people turn up and write a report on how well we are doing and some declarations don’t even have that.

  7. The costs of a sprawling city means,
    Councils spend large on building roads both to and in suburbs that are only used by 20 or 50 cars a day.
    Families spend too many hours a day, at high cost in both time and money commuting.
    Drivers are often are in a rush to get to work or school several km away.
    Families in far suburbs are stressed and don’t have much family time.
    Nurses want pay increases because they are overworked.
    In NZ we need to reduce time spent driving.
    The easiest solution is to build more apartments close to our CBDs and support intensity. That’s what is happening in Auckland and we need to keep going.

  8. I have to read this in bits but the first thing that comes up after reading a few lines is why NZ would be concerned about “some countries” not reaching 50% instead of accepting an ambitious target and setting its own challenge. The reason fir this will probably simply be that NZ knew they had no intention to try and achieve this target and therefore hid amongst those it kind of accused.
    And don’t forget even under the ambitious target of 50% we are still sacrificing the other half!!
    in which half would you want your loved ones to be??

  9. It is painful to see an international Declaration that NZ officials are scared to support, let alone stretch. It will always be difficult for a government to take its citizens further than they are willing to go, especially when lobby groups support status quo.
    Of course the issues of affordability and equity will make this difficult, but prevention of death and life-changing injury are worth serious effort and progress.
    Consistency of message is a key element in explaining the reasons for all relevant changes, so Vision Zero is a meaningful headline for this.
    Waka Kotahi needs to be able to free up investment so that RCAs such as Auckland can direct funding to supporting these objectives. Affordable interventions are possible, with positive Benefit evaluations, if the mechanism to enable them is put in place.
    I’m not anti-car, just anti-killing.

    1. Agree.

      The thing is, though, *are* they needing to take their citizens further than they’re willing to go, or is this a matter of listening too much to the vocal minority? And if so, how much demonstration and information would be required, really?

      The Setting of Speed Limits feedback showed: “A large number of submitters called for a general reduction in speed limits and with it, a reduction in the default speed limits of 50 km/h for urban roads and 100 km/h for rural roads.” AT’s recent polling showed seven times more people are supportive of investment in the safety programme than are unsupportive of it.

      I believe it’s the MoT officials who are lagging behind the public, not the other way around.

  10. Heidi are you putting in a submission on this to the NZTAs speed review https://www.nzta.govt.nz/about-us/consultations/land-transport-rule-setting-of-speed-limits-2021-consultation/
    This is crucial as I think there should be a big push for a 30kph speed limit on all urban roads that don’t have protected cycle paths. This of course really puts the acid on councils to get protected paths up and running quick smart. If it was a National Government edict that 30kph was the max without protected paths then you would have businesses and truckies furiously lobbying councils to build protected cycle paths so they can drive faster on the roads!

  11. The galling thing is that railways are held to a far higher standard of safety than roads, meaning that their infrastructure, vehicles and operation are extremely expensive. This discourages the construction of new rail routes and the provision of more services, meaning that the transport-task again and again defaults to road, which is far more dangerous. This bothered me as a teenager and it still bothers me now, 50 years later. Labour made all the right noises about fixing this when it came to office in 2017, but has failed to follow through with a concerted effort to scale back our over-dependence on road transport.

  12. approaching vision zero
    on the road to vision zero
    promote the uptake of vision zero
    encourage vision zero
    move towards vision zero
    based on vision zero principles
    40% reduction by 2030
    I ran the numbers in 2017
    – the goal then was 60% reduction in 10 years
    another 431 dead and 5025 DSI’d in the 10 years to 2027
    New cars are much safer, and will be more so by 2027. MoT et al will kill “only” 431
    431 dead kiwi thats our goal, and more to come.

    1. +1
      Unless our vision is Zero, we have to say that our current vision is to have at least some deaths on the road. Pick a number that you are comfortable with? Any target needs to be stated as how far can we hope to get, how quickly, with however much of our budget we can bend towards achieving Zero. And if that can reduce climate effects, tackle transport poverty and make lives better, then the spending should be worthwhile.

  13. I assume, that other than nerds here other electorate may be quite unhappy with proposed changes, particularly the word ‘and used’ regarding cars. If they have made 90% of cars on roads illegal to drive this would cause someone else more relaxed to be elected. Honestly speaking I would also be quite upset if my car which is from the past millennia would suddenly become illegal.

    1. Some people may be concerned that by 2030 the car they use would need to be equipped with “appropriate levels of safety features,” but it wouldn’t take much to inform them about the importance of safe vehicles, and the role vehicle owners need to take to prevent unnecessary deaths.

      1. Nevertheless I think it’s impractical to ban existing vehicles. They anyway don’t usually last that long to be a problem.

        1. It’d be nuts to ban older vehicles which may actually be (lower, slower and) better for vulnerable road users while continuing to allow high-fronted, powerful vehicles with bullbars to be used as passenger vehicles. Even those that are dubious on the emissions front are silly to scrap if they’re only used infrequently. So it’s complex.

          A good programme of fleet renewal would attempt to achieve a lot before any banning would be required. Encouragement to replace high emitting or unsafe vehicles with e-bikes and lighter, safer e-vehicles could come in a number of forms.

          Banning is definitely one of the tools in the toolbox but let’s hope a holistic approach is taken.

        2. Bans are easily held up as nanny state.
          $5/l petrol – drive as far as you like
          My 3 pre 2000 vehicles need 6monthly WoF’s – feels like weekly
          (why pre2000 vehicles) because they are amazing, and i haven’t stimulated the economic activity to buy a car every year since.
          We’re all going to go out and but new EVs dug from mines in Africa, manufactured in China, Shipped to NZ in crude burning monster boats – once the climate commission reports action section is drafted into action.

  14. Hi Heidi, the 40% reduction includes a large scale roll out of automated speed and red light enforcement including point to point cameras. Waka Kotahi see that as the lowest of low hanging fruit, especially as there was very little public backlash to the last major expansion of speed cameras a few years ago. However, in practical terms, it will require a law change as speed enforcement needs to be under Waka Kotahi control to enforce that many cameras.

    1. So we’re halfway through 2021 now… https://i.imgur.com/fPviy3U.png We should now be well into the implementation of the first stage and starting the engagement… and the first stage is only 100 additional cameras of any kind! But has it been delayed by the need for a law change so that WK can do it? That begs the question of why it didn’t just remain in the hands of the Police, doesn’t it?

      The second stage (which would hopefully be many thousands) should be designed by now and getting ready for implementation too.

      1. I want to be clear that I am not defending the delays here, I am pointing out that Waka Kotahi are taking some of the actions you sugested.

        It has been delayed by the need for a law change to make Waka Kotahi the funders, owners, and enforcement agency for speed cameras. The law change has not happened as fast as planned. It may beg the question of why the Police weren’t left in charge, but the answer is that having too many different agencies in charge has led to no one being accountable. Waka Kotahi requesting the law change is essentially them standing up and asking to be held accountable.

        1. More important for making cameras work is to enact hypothecation – making the whole operation self-funding, by taking all fines into a Safety Camera Partnership, by-passing Treasury. This needs to include District Courts, so that fines fund the processing of an overstretched legal apparatus. That way, the Partnership should be able to afford as much enforcement as it takes to achieve compliance. It worked for the UK.

        2. Yes then once it is set up as a profit centre the next National government could sell it to foreigners.

          There is a good reason fines go to the consolidated fund. It protects us from corrupt practices and makes sure the enforcers of the law don’t profit from their actions.

        3. “Yes then once it is set up as a profit centre the next National government could sell it to foreigners.”

          Well done. Well done….

  15. New Zealander’s have travel habits that don’t suit public transport or active modes. In my town we don’t have public transport, as is the case in many towns across NZ. Even our provincial cities don’t have very good services, and there are no plans to change this. Our GDP isn’t high enough to pay for extensive PT networks in every town and city and to the beaches and other places we like to go.

    So, we don’t have much choice but to keep the car option running as smoothly as possible.

    1. This is certainly the story we’ve been told for a long time, but it’s worth examining it further. You’ll find it doesn’t actually stack up. Here’s a couple of the posts Paul Callister and I wrote about regional transport needs:

      https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2019/08/07/regional-access/
      https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2019/11/06/gathering-momentum-by-gathering-data/

      Provincial New Zealanders need public transport and active modes as much as people do anywhere. New Zealanders are not “different” – the commonalities between people are far greater than our differences.

      I’m not sure why people think our car-based transport system is cheaper than other systems would be – what we have is extremely expensive. Take a look at how much we spend on building and maintaining roads, buying and maintaining cars, fuel, crash damage, and then the burden that unnecessarily killing and maiming so many people causes? Implementing better public transport and active transport networks is cheaper than continuing with this.

      And while provincial cities often don’t have good services, it’s certainly not true to say “there are no plans to change this”. Queenstown has improved its bus network immensely recently, Dunedin is making good attempts, and plenty of other provincial cities have people in their Council transport departments learning from those endeavours and working hard to try to do the same.

      In transport planning it’s important to think beyond what our priorities have been to date – those priorities have not served us well, and have created a high emissions, high polluting, low access transport system.

      We should consider:
      – People who don’t drive shouldn’t have to be dependent on others. What do they need?
      – Walking, cycling and E-bikes are perfect for the size of provincial towns and often in NZ for getting to the next towns, too. Very very few people live in places where the distances are too great for active transport.
      – Less energy is involved in moving people in one vehicle than everyone having their own. While this may mean shared vehicles are good for very rural solutions, for provincial towns and cities, public transport can work well.
      – There are plenty of ways to stop subsidising driving – once it’s no longer subsidised, there’ll be plenty of modeshift to public transport to provide the ridership required to support the services.

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