For me, every journey starts and finishes as a pedestrian – whether you walk to a car, drive/cycle to work and then walk into the office. Or we leave home and walk our children and loved ones to school or to visit friends.
Pedestrians of all ages are our most vulnerable road users.
As pedestrians, we are not encased in metal, although I note some of our younger members of the community seem to think they are.
Pedestrians move slower than a cyclist or mobility scooter user, so cannot get out of the way as quickly.
As I have driven around the district in the past four months or so, I have seen a few things that have made me catch my breath.
These include: a student riding with no hands, while appearing to be texting; a young mum and a child on a balance bike at a crossing and cars failing to stop to allow them to cross safely; young and old people driving distracted on phones; and truck drivers texting.
I follow a simple rule: I expect to arrive home in the same condition as when I left.
This is something each and every one of us deserves.
However, we all have a role to play in making that happen.
On occasions, pedestrians do not help themselves and make themselves into a target.
We must make sure we are aware of our surroundings.
This means not concentrating so hard on texting and looking down that we step out on to the road or, when walking at night, we wear something bright or carry a torch to help people know we are there.
As cyclists, because vehicles must share the road with you, we need to make sure we are not riding on the footpath and making it difficult for people to walk safely.
As motorists, we must be aware of people walking and waiting to cross.
In the example earlier, I had stopped to allow the child and mum to cross, which they started to do, only for cars coming the other way not to. Thankfully, mum stopped the child in time – I try not to think what would have happened if she had not reacted so quickly.
As a community in the Waitaki we are getting older and this means the number of mobility scooters and wheelchairs users will grow.
In most circumstances they move quicker than people walking and people walking are often walking dogs or pushing a pram.
Please be considerate when using footpaths. Most electric scooters have a speed control device – this does not need to be turned all the way up, all of the time.
So, take care everyone. Walk, cycle and drive safer, Waitaki.
- Jason Evered is the Waitaki District Council’s road safety co-ordinator.