Potential changes to laws protecting walkers and cyclists from other traffic will be discussed at this week's national walking and cycling conference.
Prof Hank Weiss, of the University of Otago Injury Prevention Research Unit, will present options for "Vulnerable Road User" laws here in New Zealand, at the 2Walk&Cycle Conference in Hastings. Many similar laws are already enacted in other countries around the world.
Possible options include greater penalties for injuries and deaths involving a pedestrian or cyclist, the introduction of "stricter liability" rules (where motorists are initially presumed at fault for insurance purposes), or specific behaviour rules, such as giving way to pedestrians crossing side-roads and a "1.5m space" rule when passing cyclists. The role that New Zealand's ACC "no-fault" compensation scheme plays in influencing road user behaviour will also be considered.
Conference convenor Glen Koorey says that the discussion is quite timely given the current Coroner's Inquest into cycling deaths. "It's likely that possible recommendations for legislative changes could be equally as applicable to pedestrian safety".
Prof Weiss' paper is one of nearly 80 being presented at the 3-day Conference, tackling a wide range of issues covering the planning, design and promotion of walking and cycling in New Zealand. Approximately 200 delegates will be attending, including politicians, policy-makers and practitioners. Delegates will also have the opportunity to sample recent "active transport" initiatives in Hastings, which is one the Government's Model Walking & Cycling Communities.
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