Stories on the topic of road safety find their way into the community paper occasionally. These stories all run to a familiar theme,
1. A local person reflects on a personal, life threatening encounter with a speeding car and the impact speeding traffic has on their community.
2. The issue is referred to the local transport agency. (Sometimes a community board politician will intervene before referring it to the transport agency).
3. Everything continues as if nothing happened.
I kid you not. Check out how the local Transport Authority responded to one such ‘incident’,
In the last five years there have been two rear-end crashes recorded close to the crossing. Nobody has been injured in these crashes.
There have not been any cases of pedestrians being hit, reported to the Transport Authority.
So in effect, the Transport Authority is saying that the lack of a fatality is a sufficient indicator that a road is safe for all road users. Safety is as much about perception as it is about reality. It’s a feeling. Because “cars project an envelope of danger by their very presence”.
I think the local citizen who generated this latest tale of road unsafety to the local paper deserves a medal for speaking the truth for us all.
I’ve got lots of clients who don’t let their children walk to school because they have to cross here and it’s too dangerous.
In the meanwhile, our very own Auckland Transport offers us their Travelwise programme. The one that teaches children how to identify ‘sneaky driveways’ and how to put their helmets on correctly. Sheesh.
So, while it is encouraging to see people speak up about these safety issues, it still feels like there is a long way to go before we will see some systemic change. The people who are questioning the status-quo need to be reassured that their instincts are correct. Priority on our streets has been given over to moving mass volumes of vehicles at high speed. We live in communities that are dominated by cars, at the expense of people. And it’s the people at the extreme ends of the 8-80 age group that are the most vulnerable. Transport inequality.
Needless to say, it’s not only cyclists who will benefit when a city manages to deal with its car addiction. The next step is to build a united voice of advocacy; to question and challenge, to provoke change amongst the decision makers. That would be fun.
‘Cycling’ is sport and recreation. ‘Riding a bicycle’ is everyday activity. No sweat. As easy as walking, but faster.
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