Driving transport inequality.

check before you step

Damn straight – check before you step.

Stories on the topic of road safety seem to be finding their way into the community paper on a regular basis these days. The 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 Auckland Transport responded to a recent ‘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 Auckland Transport.

So in effect, Auckland Transport 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 citizen who generated this latest tale of road unsafety 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, 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 I am encouraged to see more 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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