Transport issues

BY KEVIN GARDENER - Transport Sub-Committee Chair Grey Power NZ Federation INC.

There has to be some action taken to protect pedestrians, not just our members and aged people, but walkers in general, What I am referring to specifically is cyclists who use FOOTpaths intended for pedestrians.

With the advent of battery-assisted bicycles and scooters there is growing disquiet and apprehension of pedestrians’ with regards to their safety using FOOTpaths.

Now with the creation of SHARED pathways, which pedestrians know accommodate cyclists as well, cyclists do not now distinguish between these and a FOOTpath (which is for the use of pedestrians only).

Just as cyclists are demanding more care from motorists on roadways, which has always been for both forms of transport to use, there needs to be renewed education of cyclists and electric scooter riders over the use of FOOTpaths as there have been some horrendous injuries inflicted on pedestrians caused by cycles and scooters. And not just by children, but equally by adult riders who should know better.

Three examples have been brought to my attention (and can be verified in the Nelson region): One ended up with a person sustaining a brain injury, and another saw an elderly woman end up in hospital with rib, jaw, wrist damage and left unable to care for herself. In the third case a pedestrian had the misfortune to be collided with on four separate occasions. Again, not all these incidents were caused just by children.

Having driven on an open road that had a parallel running SHARED-pathway out of curiosity I paced an electric scooter travelling in the same direction as myself, my speedometer registered 70kph for a fair distance. Luckily I had no traffic following me on the 100kph road.

On speaking to younger people about this episode I was informed that, with the right scooter, and attaching a dongle or dingle to the vehicle, up to 100kph can be achieved.

Battery powered cycles have become a problem too, with some councils reducing vehicle speeds to 30kph in areas to make it “safer” for pedestrians. One is constantly passed on the inside of the vehicle by cyclists exceeding the gazetted speed restriction.

Both these are a danger to pedestrian’s of all ages. It is a traffic management issue and a pedestrian issue as well.

Whether someone is elderly or infirm, or even able-bodied, gauging the speed an approaching scooter or battery cycle coming from behind or towards them (usually with no warning device) on a SHARED-pathway or at pedestrian crossings is difficult.

I am approaching ACC to request statistics for cycle or scooter V pedestrian accidents and I await their reply. I also note that some of those injured or crashed into do not register it as a cycle v pedestrian accident so statistics can be unreliable.

It is an issue I believe NZGPF should pick up on when next they meet with ACC, Police, and Waka Kotahi. Some councils are even encouraging cyclists to not dismount, but cycle over pedestrian crossings, which again is disconcerting for all ages of pedestrians… and motorists for that matter.

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