Sunday, May 22, 2011

Walk Safely to School

The 20th of May was National Walk Safely to school Day. This day is organised by the Pedestrian Council of Australia to promote road safety for school children and physical activity. The rates of walking and cycling to school have dropped dramatically in the country since the 70's and 80's partly due to a number of factors one being the perceived issues around road safety.

The pedestrian council states that until a child reaches the age of 10 years ,then they must cross a road holding the hand (supervised) of an adult. Now given our relatively high traffic speed limits in residential areas (50km/h) then many would agree that is is a good idea. I note that another organisation, Kidsafe have suggested that 12 years is and ideal age because they can't judge speed and distance of Cars traveling on road. In this article where a child was pushing a pram onto a slip lane pedestrian crossing, was hit by a light truck that didn't give way. Clearly the driver was at fault and also the  poor design of intersections like these with slip lanes. What was Kidsafe's response ,that the children, in not so many words were at fault :

Children being in charge of other children is not an ideal situation. It’s very dangerous.’’

What price is mobility that would be safe for children. The child would have been told that at a Pedestrian crossing that motor vehicles have to give way. Yet to be sure you have to make sure that the driver comes to a complete stop before crossing, as many don't. But at a slip lane crossing, motor vehicle drivers are supposed to look left and right virtually at the same time which makes it dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists let alone children.

These national day's like 'National ride 2 School day' which I recently wrote about  do little to increase active transport to schools, but only to remind us in someway of a time when the majority of children used to walk and cycle to school. The mere term of walk 'SAFELY to school implies that walking can be dangerous so while many parents walk their children one or two days a year maybe or walk in 'walking school buses' really has no affect at all but to reiterate how unsafe our streets have become, particularly around schools.

What would increase active transport for children, certainly better infrastructure, reducing residential speeds to 30km/hr ( school zones less) restricting car use around schools and enforcing road rules like Rule 73 of the Australian Road Rules. Which is ignored routinely

But if you were on you bike then that would be different as a bike is classed as a vehicle under the Road Rules. WTF.


David Hembrow said...

Lock 'em up, don't let them out... That seems pretty much the policy eschewed even by "Kidsafe".

I take it you're aware that the average age at which Dutch children travel independently to school is eight and a half, and the local equivalent of "Kidsafe" says this is too old.

Edward said...

You really wonder why they bother. It is nothing more than a token feel-good day. The next day, most children will once more be strapped into the backseat of their parents' car.

What David describes about the experience of Dutch children makes it sound like a parallel universe. We have so far to go.