Double and triple parking outside schools, a tumble on an uneven footpath that left one person with a "massive" two-week shiner, speeding motorists and frightening cycle journeys — Aucklanders have spoken out on the hazards families face getting their children safely to and from school.
The concerns were raised in a geospatial survey run by the AA, with responses to be used in ongoing discussions with Auckland Transport.
More than 1600 people responded to the survey sent to 20,000 AA members and posted on social media, with half sharing concerns about walking, a third about driving and 10 per cent about cycling.
Respondents dropped pins across a map of central Auckland and surrounding suburbs from Pt Chevalier to Glendowie, and south to Mt Wellington, Ōnehunga and Blockhouse Bay.
One St Heliers respondent was surprised no one had died where Long Dr meets Melanesia and Auckland roads.
"Buses, cars from multiple, un-aligned directions, poor visibility, no crossing, parked cars at the shops coming and going."
Concerns about a lack of pedestrian crossings were a frequent feature of the survey.
"[The] council's idea about kids walking to school looks pretty much insane when you live on Caulton Street," wrote one Stonefields parent.
Others complained 40km/h speed limit school zone signs around schools were not working or took a swipe at the number of parents who drove their kids to school, adding to traffic congestion.
"A large number of children are taken to school in cars ... especially on wet days. Children don't melt," one wrote.
But AA spokeswoman Vanessa Wills said parents were worried.
"The summary we came to is that kids are being driven to school because there isn't always safe walking and cycling infrastructure – and the numbers reflect that."
The Ministry of Transport's 25 Years of Travel study in 2015 showed that 42 per cent of school journeys by primary school pupils were made on foot in the late 1980s. By 2014 that had fallen to 29 per cent. Cycling fell from 12 per cent of journeys to fewer than 5 per cent.
She hoped the Regional Land Transport Plan's $900 million, 10 year budget for road safety would help.
"It's a real game changer, and we want to see a decent chunk of that investment going into schools across Auckland that need it."
However, Auckland Council's transport arm had also "fallen down" on communication, Wills said, citing the Travelwise programme, in which schools work with Auckland Transport to create individualised safe school travel plans.
"Some [Travelwise] Auckland schools still feel disconnected from AT, that their safety problems aren't being heard or responded to, and they're struggling to get investment for simple infrastructure like variable speed signs and pedestrian crossings."
Auckland Transport chief transport operations' officer Andrew Allen said they were working with approximately 400 schools through the voluntary Travelwise and the Walking School Bus programmes, with each school having a co-ordinator in direct contact with a lead teacher.
Most of these relationships worked well, and Auckland Transport's community transport team worked closely with others in the organisation on issues or requests from outside schools.
Travelwise achievements since its inception in 2005 included 75 per cent of Auckland children attending a Travelwise school and a 58 per cent reduction in crashes around schools that involve pedestrians and children on bikes aged 5 to 13.
They had met with AA to discuss the geospatial survey and many of the issues raised were already in the system for investigation, resolution or follow up.
"We also logged any other issues that AA raised for investigation and follow up — most if not all were simple maintenance requests. We've also said to AA that they can provide the team's contact details to any school that might wish to find out more about Travelwise if they are not already involved. We have not heard anything further on this."
Increasing the number of children walking and biking to school would ease congestion and be good for health, Allen said.
"We agree that delivering safe infrastructure for children to walk and cycle to school is extremely important."
One project to improve walking is the Safer Communities programme where, over the next three years, localised improvements were planned in key Mt Roskill, Māngere Bridge and Papakura locations, such as those near schools or public transport links.
'Mad dash' to cross road
Three, two, one — quick, run, run, run.
That's how Herne Bay mum Susy Pryde describes the "mad dash" in getting her seven-year-old son Sebastian Drake and, sometimes, other kids, safely across the road to Marist School Herne Bay, at the corner of Kelmarna Ave and Hukanui Cres.
She wanted her son to walk or bike to school, it's good for the body and the mind. And in a year or two she'd like him to be able to do it on his own — that's good for his independence and development.
But she's not sure that will happen, because the busy Herne Bay street doesn't feel safe enough.
"It's a mad dash ... because we just don't know when it will be that the next car comes zooming along."
Marist School Herne Bay principal Louise Campbell said Pryde was far from the only parent with concerns. Around two-thirds lived within cycling distance, but many had shared their safety worries with both her and Auckland Transport.
She had talked to the organisation about solutions, such as a pedestrian crossing or electronic signs warning motorists they were in a school zone.
Auckland Transport responded by sending engineers to assess the school, but the only action that had been taken was to paint two white lines at the entrance to the school, Campbell said.
"It's a shame we could end up with some harm to our kids before anything is done."
The school was part of the Travelwise programme, but the Auckland Transport liaison had changed frequently and the school's own coordinator had left in December "having not had contact from the Travelwise coordinator for some time".
Auckland Transport chief transport operations officer Andrew Allen said Marist School had not participated in Travelwise activities since 2016.
"In 2014 we offered to work with the school to establish a walking school bus, but this was declined. In 2016 a new community transport co-ordinator was appointed to the school, and while a Back to School event was held, there has been no further interest from the school, despite us making contact on a number of occasions since."
For Travelwise to work, schools needed to commit a lead teacher and fully commit to the programme, Allen said.
"We are more than willing to meet with the school to see how we can support them to provide active transport and road safety education for their students and parents."
Auckland Transport had also recently investigated requests for a formal pedestrian crossing on Kelmarna Ave, but visibility issues with a bend and crest in the road made the installation difficult, he said.
"But we are investigating other options.This will include a survey of vehicle speeds on the road."