Accessible Streets Package5 min read
Recently CCS Disability Action submitted on the Accessible Streets Package. Policy Analyst Pia Huston breaks down the key points and why explains the proposals are concerning for people with access and mobility needs.
The most surprising thing about this submission for me were some of the proposals put forward by the government. It was concerning to see proposals that put forward by the government that were both dangerous and unreasonable. For example, allowing everyone on the footpath. So, hopefully some of the Accessible Streets Package submissions can help the government rework some of their proposals to make them safer and logical.
Let me break down this package for you. The Government wants to:
- Change categories and definitions of transport devices which will clarify where they can go and how they can be used on footpaths, shared paths, cycle lanes.
- Allow pedestrians, mobility devices, transport devices, and cycles on the footpaths if they meet the behavioural requirements of being courteous and considerate, travel in a way that isn’t dangerous, and give right of way to pedestrians.
- Pedestrians, mobility devices, transport devices, and cycles are allowed to use shared paths and cycleways but a person using a shared path of cycleway must travel in a careful and considerate manner, in a speed that is not dangerous is not dangerous to other users, and in a way that does not interfere with other users.
- Allow transport devices, such as skateboards and e-scooters, to use cycle lanes and cycle paths.
- Enforce that all transport devices ridden at night should have lighting or reflectors on them
- Give priority to other road users not just cars – for example allow transport devices and cycles to travel straight in a left turning lane or allow transport devices and cycles to carefully pass slow-moving vehicles on the left.
- Have a minimum overtaking gap for cars overtaking other transport devices and people on the road
- Clarify what’s needed for road controlling authorities to restrict parking on berms and remove the need for signs.
- Require road users to give way to signalling buses pulling out of bus stops in urban areas
Some of our suggested changes:
- Pedestrians, powered wheelchairs, devices with gyroscopes that have been modified for disabled people, mobility devices, and unpowered devices should only be allowed to be used on footpaths. While powered transport devices, cyclists and e-bikes should only be allowed to be used on cycle lanes, shared paths, and the road. Having every possible mode of transport on the footpath is just not an effective or safe solution and does not follow international best practice.
- The speed limit on footpaths should be reduced to 10 km/h. The government proposed that the speed limit on footpaths should be 15km/h, however, this is three time faster than the average walking speed and many mobility devices or electric scooter can’t go any faster than 10km/h. So, it seemed better to reduce the speed as it would be safer and more logical to be closer to user speeds.
- Children aged 12 and under should be allowed to bike on the footpath accompanied by a parent. A study done by the University of Otago showed that children aged 12 or older could safely perform turning and stopping signals, and to look over the right shoulder and identify a potential hazard, while maintaining control of their bike and without straying outside the lines of a cycleway.
- That there should be more cycleways for cyclists to travel on which is much safer and more efficient for them. If cyclists are not allowed footpaths it seems only equitable that they should have more places not just the road to bike on that they also feel safe using.
- The maximum speed on all shared paths and cycle lanes should be the default speed of 30 km/h. Having the speed limit on shared paths and cycles lanes at 30km/h is a much safer and reasonable speed that the government proposed speed limit of 50km’h or higher. Especially when many transport devices can’t go above 30km/h.
Beside these change we thought that:
- The new categories (pedestrian, powered wheelchairs, mobility devices, unpowered transport devices, powered transport devices, cycles and e-bikes) proposed by the government should be implemented, and
- Proposal 6, 7, and 8 were good and should be implemented
CCS Disability Action was also lucky enough to get a meeting with NZTA. This was a great opportunity for us to really highlight our issues with the package but also answer some of their questions about our submission. This meeting was really successful and NZTA seemed genuinely interested in how they could rework some of their proposals to ensure disabled people were not forgotten. NZTA even confirmed they were going to do a post-consultation analysis report and the disability impact assessment by further consult with disabled people and people who advocate for them to ensure the new package includes everyone.
Overall, the Accessible Streets Package is a very important proposal. Currently, New Zealand footpaths are unsafe and ineffective which has resulted in them being underutilised. It is vital that this is addressed by government. Hopefully with the new Accessible Street Package some changes can be made that will make footpath users feel safer and more prioritised.
We also hope that when this package is put into action the government carefully considers the impacts it will have on disabled people and how it aligns with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, especially Article 9. Disabled people often do not get the same opportunities and access as non-disabled people. This affects the lives of disabled people and also impacts the wider community.