NZ pedestrian safety below world standards, say activists

By Mathew Dearnaley

Kiwi drivers are required to stop for pedestrians only at crossings and traffic lights on 'walk now' phases. Photo / Thinkstock
Kiwi drivers are required to stop for pedestrians only at crossings and traffic lights on 'walk now' phases. Photo / Thinkstock

Pedestrians airing their shoes for Walk to Work Day tomorrow are demanding right of way over vehicles turning at intersections.

Their national umbrella group, Living Streets Aotearoa, will begin a campaign for a "pedestrian-focused" road code at free breakfasts in Auckland and other centres such as Rotorua and Whakatane.

Group president Andy Smith, of Walk Auckland, said yesterday that the aim was to bring New Zealand up to international best practice by giving pedestrians a fairer chance of survival and making streets safer for all.

He said the country was out of step with countries such as Australia, Britain and Canada by allowing pedestrians right of way only at designated crossings, and not at uncontrolled intersections.

Drivers in Australia and Britain must give way to pedestrians crossing roads into which they are turning.

In some other places, such as British Columbia in Canada and Illinois in the United States, vehicles must also "yield" to pedestrians crossing any roads in front of them at intersections - a standard which Mr Smith's organisation wants applied in New Zealand.

He did not think it too much to ask, saying it was treating pedestrians "like any other flow of traffic at the intersection".

He described as "outrageous" the lack of protection given to pedestrians by New Zealand's road code.

He said the Australian give-way rule was recommended by officials of the former Land Transport NZ in a report seven years ago, after six pedestrians were killed in 2003 by traffic turning at intersections.

FEET FIRST

Australia and Britain: Drivers must give way to pedestrians crossing roads into which vehicles are turning.

British Columbia (Canada) and Illinois (United States): Drivers must "yield" to pedestrians crossing any roads in front of them at intersections, whether marked or not.

New Zealand: Drivers are required to stop for pedestrians only at pedestrian crossings and at traffic lights on "walk now" phases.

- NZ Herald

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