You know the old saying “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone?” This struck me hard last week while observing a parent out biking with their three young kids. The look of sadness mixed with fear and disbelief on their faces two large trucks and several other vehicles raced past reminded me of what we lost in Level 3, in the excitement of being able to head out for fast food and coffee. It was pleasing to see that the family felt confident enough to ride on the road, but you couldn’t help but wonder how long they would continue doing so with the return of fast-moving traffic through the local streets.
During the weeks of Level 4, some neighbourhood kids had been riding their mini jeeps around the street I live on while I worked from my home office. The warm sunny weather meant that they would often be out there for hours at a time. Sure enough, Level 3 hit and the vehicles inevitably returned to the street making it almost impossible for them to catch a break longer than about ten minutes at a time to play.
By encouraging slower speeds, pedestrian priority and discouraging through traffic, we can make some of the scenes described here a more permanent feature of our streets. No one is suggesting that we want to reduce mobility to what we had under Level 4 permanently, but I do hope that we can work towards changing our local neighbourhood streets to re-capture one of the few freedoms we discovered during lockdown, that being spaces for people.
The good news is the Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Speed Management Framework points us in the right direction for understanding and implementing safe and appropriate speeds, and ultimately getting back some of what we’ve lost.
This is the sixth blog in our series of 'Bubble Blogs'. During the Covid-19 lockdown, our 'People and Places' team have been reflecting on insights and experiences related to the work that we do. See also:
Keep an eye out for Bubble Blog #7!
Blog written by Carl O'Neil, Senior Transportation Engineer