This is a cross-post from our friends at Bike Auckland, with an intro by Fiain d’Leafy, their Chief Biking Officer. Feedback on AT’s current tranche of proposed safe speeds is open until Monday 28 August. This post explains why it’s important to take a moment to add your voice, and how to speak up for safer speeds around schools.
I was lucky to have the joy of cycling to kura (school) with my friends. I have such happy memories from those journeys, and I stayed active and healthy because of it! My bike gave me freedom – want to go to a friend’s house? No worries, I’ll hop on my bike. And, it set me up for a life-long habit – it’s why I’m cycling for my transport now.
To me, it is a great injustice that most children no longer have this freedom; our streets have become so unsafe that many parents and schools ban children from cycling for their journeys. We have an opportunity now with this consultation to make streets around schools safe for kids to walk and cycle for their journeys; and to experience the joy, freedom, and exhilaration that many of us got to have.
The Katoa Ka Ora Speed Management Plan proposes to create safer speed areas around many kura (schools) across Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland – and misses others out entirely! Auckland Transport, your local board, and local schools need to hear from you – Fiain d’Leafy
Katoa, Ka Ora Speed Management Plan
A key action of the Road to Zero strategy is safe speeds around all schools across Aotearoa New Zealand by the end of 2027, with 40% of these changes to be completed by 30 June 2024. Auckland Transport’s Katoa, Ka Ora is giving effect to those requirements. The plan proposes:
- school zones so children feel safer walking to school
- safe neighbourhood zones so everyone is safe on roads around their home
- safe rural areas so people are safe on rural roads.
Key info for making your voice heard
- Here’s AT’s project page with the full plan, summaries in various languages, and maps by local board area
- Check out AT’s interactive map of proposed changes.
- For some very useful context, check out the Healthy Auckland Together scorecards to help with your feedback. Healthy Auckland Together has given ratings to each Local Board area based on whether the speed changes proposed for around the schools are enough. HAT ranks local areas (from Waiheke with an A, to Kaipātiki with an F), with a map for each and a list of schools that will miss out unless people request otherwise. (Note: the HAT maps also show the existing 30kmh zones, which aren’t shown on AT’s interactive map.)
- More background on the safer speeds plan is available from AT here.
- Equip yourself with key stats on why safer speeds matter.
Add your voice by 28 August…
…and read on to find out more about why safe speeds are important, how to speak up for safety around schools, and how to get the word to your Local Board as well as to AT!
“Imagine an Aotearoa where everyone can get to where they’re going safely. Where it’s safe to drive to work and home again or visit whānau and friends. Where it’s safe to ride bikes and let tamariki walk to school. Where transport improves our health and wellbeing, creating live-able places for our communities.” – Waka Kotahi, Speed and Infrastructure Toolkit
How to help make streets safe for kids to walk, cycle and scoot to school
- Add your voice to this consultation by Monday 28 August, letting Auckland Transport know that you support permanent speed changes to 30km/hr around all schools – and make sure to point out any schools in your area that AT have missed. Healthy Auckland Together’s scorecards will really help with this!
- It’s important to request permanent safer speeds around schools, i.e. they apply 24/7, rather than variable limits that apply for brief time slots on weekdays only.
- At the same time, write directly to your Local Board letting them know you support permanent speed limits of 30km/hr around your local schools. Healthy Auckland Together has created an awesome community information pack (PDF) to help with this, including an awesome template. See also Bike Auckland’s tips for writing to your local board here.
- Connect directly with your local schools, to encourage them to submit on AT’s consultation and write to their local boards. Schools can help keep their students safe by telling Auckland Transport and their local board that they support permanent 30 km/hr speed limits on surrounding streets. (They can also, at any time, write or present in person to their Local Board on this and other topics.)
You could also…
- Share your story with Healthy Auckland Together, so they can learn how dangerous speeds are impacting your community.
- If you’re a school principal or community leader, contact Healthy Auckland Together to explore other ways you can get involved.
Why do safer speeds matter?
Safer speeds keep people safe – it’s in the name! Worldwide research has shown time and time again that 30km/hr is the sweet spot which can turn a deadly crash between a vehicle and someone walking or cycling into something we can get up and walk away from.
Here in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland the evidence is clear: reducing speeds saves lives and reduces harm.
“We know that where safe and appropriate speed limits have been implemented injuries and deaths have reduced. Data from the first phase of speed limit changes in June 2020, showed a 30 percent reduction in deaths and a 21 percent reduction in serious injuries. In comparison, across all Auckland roads for the time period (24 months), road deaths increased by 9 percent.”
Safe Speeds – the reasons, Auckland Transport
And harm is not only the direct injury; it’s the devastation that rocks a community after losing someone, and the stress whanau go through when someone they love has a long recovery from severe injury.
“In 2017 alone, 64 people died and an additional 749 were seriously injured on our roads. That amounts to more than a 70% increase since 2014 or over three times the rate of the rest of New Zealand. These are not just numbers but represent our people, our whanau and our communities, whose lives have forever changed and been devastated due to road trauma.
Safer speeds lower both the risk of having a crash, and the risk of dying or being seriously injured in one – literally lowering the stakes, for people inside cars, and those outside. On both rural roads and urban streets, safer speeds will save lives.”
What’s more, people can feel the difference. 30km/hr streets feel safer, more pleasant, and are quieter. So, people start to walk and cycle for their trips more. This is crucial for us to meet our emissions and mode-shift targets.
After Berlin introduced 30km streets, the city experienced a bike boom: It was the 30-km/h speed limit that got people riding bikes, and because people were riding the council provided infrastructure. Turning Berlin into a cycling city was an unintended by-product of comprehensively lowering the urban speed limit.
A network of 30km/hr streets connected by raised crossings and protected cycleways along arterials would go a long way towards enabling transport choice; and more joyful, resilient, and quieter streets. It’s one of our fastest, most affordable ways of creating safe places to ride from A to B.
What about variable speeds?
In Katoa Ka Ora, some schools are listed as having a variable speed limit. This means that they would have a 30km/hr speed limit at the school start and end times, but the speed limit would return to the current limit (likely 50km/hr) for the rest of the day.
This would not create the safe streets our children derserve: 85% deaths and serious injuries immediately outside of schools occur outside of pick up and drop off time. Children are still using the streets around schools throughout the whole day; for getting to and from before and after school care, for school trips, and for extra curricular activities like choir, theatre, and sports practice.
Variable speeds are also simply too easy to forget about. A permanent speed change is a much easier habit to follow; and ensures everyone using the street is safer.
“There needs to be a paradigm shift on how we think about streets and who they are used by. We must remove cars from the top of our transport hierarchy and put people back.
We should start by assuming that the speed limit on all streets within the city should be 30km/h. A case must then be made for the speed limit being higher. That higher limit can only be instigated once pedestrians and cyclists are safely separated from the motor traffic. Simple and yet so difficult. Aren’t cities about people?”