A third of New Zealanders believe cars are travelling too fast on their streets as the police, councils and others take steps to slow traffic down.
Communities across the country are being encouraged to make streets safer as part of Road Safety Week.
A recent survey by the road safety charity Brake found a third of New Zealanders feel at risk from vehicles driving fast on their streets and a quarter thought it was not safe to cycle.
The findings come as research from the Helen Clark Foundation and professional services firm WSP calls for substantially reducing traffic volumes in cities.
A research report, The Shared Path, said communities can help roll out low traffic neighbourhoods.
"During the Level 4 lockdown, many New Zealanders enjoyed how safe and
friendly our streets and neighbourhoods felt with fewer cars during lockdown.
We can all enjoy safe, friendly streets and neighbourhoods in future by taking the
right actions now," the report said.
National Policing Manager Gini Welch's message to motorists was If you're using the road – whether that be driving, riding, cycling, or as a pedestrian – you have a responsibility to do so with care, and to look out for your fellow road users.
"Your speed is something you can easily control and it is also the one thing that makes the biggest difference to the outcome if someone does make a mistake on the road.
"Your speed determines your survival," Welch said.
In 2019, 352 people were killed on New Zealand roads, including 13 cyclists and 31 pedestrians.
Thousands more people are injured each year, and the social cost of crashes is now $4.9 billion a year.
Holly Walker, Deputy Director of the Helen Clark Foundation, and author of the report, said there is a commitment to zero deaths on the road.
"Yet the more we drive, the more we crash – we simply won't achieve our goal without reducing the number of trips taken by car," she said.
Walker said New Zealand has committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050, but this won't happen without a substantial reduction in private vehicle use.
WSP Director Client Experience and Strategic Advisory David Kidd said the country needs to take strong action to tackle transport emissions, turning the tide from a
45-degree growth in emissions to achieve a 45-degree decline.
"We have a decade, possibly less, to achieve carbon neutrality in transport. Our
current thinking needs a dramatic overhaul to achieve this and requires policy
change across a number of sectors," he said.
Five key actions of the Shared Path report:
• Rapidly roll-out low-traffic neighbourhoods in cities by engaging and listening to communities.
•Starting local conversations and building support for low-traffic interventions.
• Councils developing city-wide transport emissions reduction plans that include low-traffic areas.
• Central Government creating a specific tool to make it easier to create low-traffic neighbourhoods.
• Urgently develop a national strategy to reduce transport emissions.