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Off-road paths will make safer school journeys
The tragic death of Carla Neems on her way to school has sparked a lot of debate about children walking to school.
The Walking Access Commission advocates for more off-road pathways for people to get between their homes and key amenities like schools, places of work and shops. It is unlikely that such paths would have made a difference to Carla. She died in a driveway on a scooter.
But there is no doubt that providing more off-road options for children, and adults, to get from one place to another would make many of our transport journeys safer. And more pleasant. And thus more popular.
Many people do not want to cycle or walk to work, to school or to the shops because the roads are built for cars first, not for walkers or cyclists.
There are a multitude of proven reasons why we should make it easier for people to walk and cycle for short journeys. These include physical health, mental health, climate change, connected communities, sustainability, healthy environments. And off-road tracks and trails central to achieving this.
Retrofitting these off-road options is a complicated and slow task. That is why it is important that we do it early when we first build our subdivisions and suburbs.
Our recently released report on the Franklin North-Waikato region makes this point starkly. Thousands of new houses are going up in this region as Auckland expands southward.
We have expertise in identifying where those routes should go, and how they can be legally established and built. And we have a plan for creating a network of these trails, getting people to many of the places they need to go.
It won’t solve all our problems. It can’t prevent tragic unlucky deaths like that of Carla Neems. But it would make it safer and more fun for many other kids to get to and from school.