Introduce Laws For School Child Climate Action

Published: Wed 13 Apr 2022 09:27 AM
We have been given dire forecasts that climate change will impact us all - especially children - unless there is urgent action towards lowering our carbon footprint. NZ School Speeds has for years been asking for consistent 30 km/h speed limits outside schools to make walking and cycling safe, as recommended by the World Health Organisation. Today, NZ School Speeds is urging the Government to put a law in place for this to happen a lot sooner than the proposed target of 2030.
Making walking and cycling to school safer will go a long way towards lowering our carbon footprint, by encouraging families to choose these options over a private car. In addition, walking and cycling provide numerous benefits to children, who can exercise and learn everyday skills while making independent journeys to school. There are many ways that safe walking or cycling can be implemented, for example schools organising walking or biking buses if parents are worried about their children making their way to school independently.
Rules have been put in place to make it possible for road controlling authorities to reduce speed limits outside schools to 30 km/h, under the NZ Government action plan ‘Road to Zero’. However, authorities have been given until 2030 to put this in place. Lucinda Rees from NZ School Speeds is calling for consistent 30 km/h speed limits outside every school to be mandatory from the next parliamentary term, as safe walking and cycling is vital climate action.
Currently there is a two-tiered structure to the new rules, expecting urban areas to lower the speed limit to 30 km/h, while rural areas only need to have speed limits lowered to 60 km/h. Rees says “Rural children are just as at risk from road dangers as urban children. Why not make school zones safe for all, with consistent speed limits of 30km/h outside all schools, giving rural children the same protections as those in cities? Making the law set one speed limit for all schools protects all students equally. Prioritise children - not cars.”
“There will also need to be speed limits of no more than 60 km/h on roads leading to schools, so that all children can walk or cycle safely. Furthermore, a law needs to be put in place that makes it mandatory for all drivers to give vulnerable road users a safe passing gap of 1.5 metres for those driving at or over 60 km/h and 1 metre for those driving under 60 km/h. Cyclists have been promised this law for years, but nothing has happened. In many countries, drivers are taught that they need to move into the outside lane to pass a vulnerable road user, which makes any cyclist’s journey safer and more enjoyable.”
“If we do not begin making positive changes towards a brighter future for our children, then it will never happen. These laws could be the start of changing New Zealand’s culture surrounding car usage and how we treat our most vulnerable road users, but it will take a gutsy Government to implement the changes required. We need this climate action now.”

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