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Safer, greener & more active travel - why bother?

  • Reframing the conversation about active travel

    We all want to live in a great community – one in which we feel comfortable, connected and safe. A place where people know and look out for each other and where our children play, walk and cycle with neighbourhood friends as they grow into independent young adults. In such a community everyone looks out for each other and parents are confident that children can walk or ride to the local school, shops and recreation grounds.

    Children are healthier, have more adventures and grow in independence in a safe environment. Parents have more personal time.

    Research has shown that:

    • we believe that using our car is quicker and cheaper even though evidence clearly demonstrates in the majority of local situations this is not true
    • we see our car as an extension of ourselves rather than a mode of transport
    • when we feel connected within a community not only do we feel safer but we are safer. Crime rates and traffic speeds significantly decrease, people take time to talk to each other and children learn to take personal responsibility and grow in independence.

    Making people, rather than the car, the centre of a community alters how people see themselves and behave.


    ‘This is not about being anti-vehicle but rather about being pro-people’  Streets for People Compendium

    Putting people first and creating pedestrian and cycle friendly environments will make our communities more vibrant and healthy. With around 40 per cent of car trips being less than three kilometres, many of us have plenty of opportunities to walk or cycle instead of driving. This will help reduce not only our waistlines but also greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.

    ‘Speed is the single most important contributor to road fatalities. The human tolerance to injury is exceeded when the vehicle impact speed is more than 30 km/h. Reduce and calm vehicle traffic to facilitate safe pedestrian and cyclist movement along residential and collector streets.’ Healthy by Design SA

  • Learning about road safety – what works with children and young adults?

    Behavioural change in students is complex. It is related to their emotional, social, intellectual and physical development.  For example, road safety research indicates the child of less than 8 or 9 years old has difficulty processing the speed of cars in relationship to their decision about whether it is safe to cross the road (Ampofo ‐ Boateng & Thomson, 1991; Tabibi & Pfeffer, 2003). This is why traffic calming initiatives are used e.g. traffic wardens, speed restrictions near schools, school crossings.

    Family practices including adult driving behaviour have substantial influence over children’s travel and traffic behaviour.

    International longitudinal research has shown that building the social-emotional factors of school students actually reduces risk taking behaviour when they become young adults (Blum et al, 2002; McNeely et al, 2002; Patton et al, 2006).

    Road safety programs that focus on building resilience, increasing the connections for each student, linking the home school and community, fostering respectful and supportive relationships among and between students, teachers and parents, provide a better basis for reducing risk than most traditional road safety school programs that focus on information transfer and frequently, shock tactics (IUHPE,2009; Raftery & Wundersitz, 2011 ).