Lower speed limits needed for children cycling: advocates

Photo: Jonathan Leask
Photo: Jonathan Leask
Cycling advocates are calling for safer conditions for children cycling to school, after the Minister of Transport told councils to stop work on imposing blanket speed reductions.

As classes return from next week, Patrick Morgan of Cycling Action Network said children did not have freedom to cycle because of fast traffic, even though they wanted to.

"As recently as the 1970s and 80s, it was very common for children to bike to school.

"That's quite uncommon now and most schools have fewer than one in 10 students getting to school by bike."

Morgan said the Cycling Action Network were shocked by the government's decision for work to stop on speed reductions.

Last December, Transport Minister Simeon Brown said work would begin on a new policy ensuring speed limits took into account travel times and the views of local communities as well as safety.

Variable speed limits would be allowed on roads approaching schools during pick-up and drop-off times, rather than permanent reductions, Brown said at the time:

"I am writing to Road Controlling Authorities throughout the country to notify them of the changes and to advise them that work has begun on the new [policy].

"This allows them to stop work on current speed management plans until the [policy] is put in place."

But Morgan said the government needed to prioritise children's safety by lowering speeds to 30 kilometres per hour around school cycling routes.

"Most children don't live next door to the school, so we're saying that residential streets where children go from home to school need to be safe enough so that most children can walk, bike or scoot. That means lower speed limits."