Child’s right to walk to school safely

LETTER

Living Streets Aotearoa is shocked that a Coroner has said “the girl killed by a rubbish truck should not have been walking to school without an adult”.

It is a child’s right to walk to school safely and it’s the Government’s job to make sure it is safe to walk to school or to play.

Walking for a child is a part of growing up, a part of being independent and part of being out in your community. We need to encourage walking and walking to school as it a way to bring people physical and mental health. We humans are designed for walking.

Children are OK to walk on their own when their parents think they are. The parents are the ones who know best. It might be when they’re five, it might be when they’re 15. It depends on the individual child. It’s not the police, school or coroner who should be dictating that. There are hundreds of thousands of children walking to school every day.

Living Streets would like to see a strong response from the Government to this coroner’s ruling. We don’t know if coroners can be censured, but this one needs to be. It’s a clear case of victim blaming.

Footpaths are for feet and not vehicles. The rubbish truck in question should have been fitted with enough mirrors and sensors to see the child on the footpath. A person in a wheelchair is the same height as a child and we do not expect them to be run down by vehicles on the footpath.

Our streets need to be safe places to walk and play and the Government is now making that happen with slower speeds in residential roads and around school. The coroner’s decision is out of step with these policies.

Andy Smith, president, Living Streets Aotearoa

Living Streets Aotearoa is shocked that a Coroner has said “the girl killed by a rubbish truck should not have been walking to school without an adult”.

It is a child’s right to walk to school safely and it’s the Government’s job to make sure it is safe to walk to school or to play.

Walking for a child is a part of growing up, a part of being independent and part of being out in your community. We need to encourage walking and walking to school as it a way to bring people physical and mental health. We humans are designed for walking.

Children are OK to walk on their own when their parents think they are. The parents are the ones who know best. It might be when they’re five, it might be when they’re 15. It depends on the individual child. It’s not the police, school or coroner who should be dictating that. There are hundreds of thousands of children walking to school every day.

Living Streets would like to see a strong response from the Government to this coroner’s ruling. We don’t know if coroners can be censured, but this one needs to be. It’s a clear case of victim blaming.

Footpaths are for feet and not vehicles. The rubbish truck in question should have been fitted with enough mirrors and sensors to see the child on the footpath. A person in a wheelchair is the same height as a child and we do not expect them to be run down by vehicles on the footpath.

Our streets need to be safe places to walk and play and the Government is now making that happen with slower speeds in residential roads and around school. The coroner’s decision is out of step with these policies.

Andy Smith, president, Living Streets Aotearoa

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Peter Jones - 17 days ago
So what's the story? Do you think rubbish truck drivers lurk near foot paths looking for their next victim? I know this driver personally and I can assure you that he has been persecuted enough. Do your posturing somewhere else.

Phil Hunt, Picton - 16 days ago
I was school-bus driving in Gisborne at the time Carla Neems was hit by the rubbish truck. I have on several occasions done trips to/from the school and know the area well as a car driver as well. As a parent, I can see both sides of the argument, and had a close call with one of my sons over 40 years ago when both us parents thought the other was looking after him. I know what it is like to feel your blood run cold. This is a very difficult problem, so I hope her parents and family and the driver of the truck know that a lot of us will be thinking "there, but for the grace of god, go I".
At another school in Gisborne there was a serious problem with young children going home from school, and crossing two main roads, at the very time lots of parents were picking up their children by car, and the normal busy mid-afternoon traffic was passing the area.
I went to see the principal and was told they were doing their best to make it safe. I wasn't happy after several weeks of observation, so e-mailed the school setting out my concerns in detail. I got a reply saying things were going to be done, and I asked they let me know what the outcome was as I was leaving the area a few weeks later. I have not had any further communication and assume that there have been no accidents in that time, and not seen any reported.
It is a problem, but I think children should, when judged able, walk to and from school.
It is NOT the Government's place to "do something about it". Laws are already in place to try to protect everyone using the road.

John Fricker - 16 days ago
There is so much that is wrong with Mr Smith's letter.

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