Hamilton West plans a day without cars

A Hamilton West School-wide carless day event is planned to highlight safety concerns at children being driven to and from school.

A city council facilitator has been working with Hamilton West School staff and pupils to help overcome congestion and safety concerns outside the school, where around 80 per cent of kids arrive and leave each day by car.

Students plan to challenge adults' thinking by demonstrating that they have learned safety rules, can be responsible on the footpaths, roadways and buses, and take greater ownership for getting themselves to and from school.

Hamilton City Council, Waikato Regional Council and police traffic safety personnel all have an interest in getting children safely to and from school but without clogging the city's roads with cars.

In an effort to change the daily morning and afternoon traffic scenario, school students have planned car-free events on July 30 to promote their concerns and to learn about other ways of getting to and from school.

The school promotion includes transport options such as walking, biking, scooting, skating and busing and, for those staff and students who travel from further afield, encouragement to car pool.

The activities are tailored to give children the abilities and confidence to get to school using options matching their ages.

For the younger children an orientation/walking exercise has been organised to promote a safe journey.

Year 5-6 students will see 100 pupils and 20 adults involved in an "amazing bus race" which has been organised in conjunction with Waikato Regional Council. They'll be hopping on and off buses around the city.

Year 7-8 students' bike, skate and scooter competitions will run for two hours with the support of police.

A certificate ceremony for the student-led group will be conducted by Councillor Martin Gallagher. As a finale, Waikato Regional Council's road safety mascot Ruben the Bear will reinforce road safety messages for the younger students and the Funky Monkeys will perform for the older students.

July 30 was chosen to mark the anniversary of the 1979 introduction of the Muldoon Government's Carless Days scheme - one of several attempts to help the declining New Zealand economy after the oil shocks of the late 1970s.

Car owners had to nominate one day a week on which they would not use their cars and were given a sticker to attach to the windscreen.

It also marked the country's attempt to introduce widespread car-pooling.

- Hamilton News

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