An article in the New Zealand Herald notes how diminished the pedestrian is for road space in that country. Lynley Hood is a researcher in Dunedin who is losing her sight and has started a petition asking the government to reduce the number of pedestrians killed on New Zealand roads. In New Zealand pedestrians do not have priority over motor vehicles when crossing side roads and intersections.
Between 2006 and 2015 384 pedestrians were killed on New Zealand roads. Ninety cyclists were killed during the same time. Dr. Hood notes that the government “has more than $350 million invested in a Cycling Safety Action Plan. There is no pedestrian safety plan.” Thirty per cent of the pedestrians killed on the roads were 65 years and older. Ms. Hood notes that the 104 seniors in that 30 per cent of pedestrians were more than the total of cyclists killed, but that no special funding was available to ameliorate the cause of this carnage.
Ms. Hood had little interest in her work except from New Zealand’s chief coroner. Since the senior population in New Zealand will double in the next two decades that means the pedestrian death rate could also double.
“Older people need to walk for exercise, Dr Hood said, and they have to cross roads. They are more unstable, move more slowly and are likely to have sight and hearing problems.When crossing a road they have no protection, and they are generally poorer judges of speed and distance. What’s needed is some commitment by Government to pedestrian safety. There are a lot of young traffic designers who would leap at the chance of tackling the challenge if Government put some money into it. We’re not all petrolheads.”
In New Zealand anything that is not a motorized vehicle uses the sidewalk including scooters, skateboards, mobility scooters and Segways as well as walkers. There is no set standard for width, design, surface or grade. In a country with a population size similar to British Columbia’s it is time for motordom to accept the right of all users, and to give pedestrians the priority for safe access across roads.