Ex­perts crit­i­cise city foot­paths

Central Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - JAMES PASLEY

City foot­paths are fail­ing New Zealanders and could be adding to obe­sity rates, ex­perts ar­gue. Two sus­tain­abil­ity ex­perts both cited problems about walk­ing and cy­cling in New Zealand ci­ties at the green prop­erty sum­mit held in Auck­land last week. Aus­tralian sus­tain­abil­ity man­ager Dav­ina Rooney con­trasted New Zealand’s obe­sity lev­els with the likes of Tokyo. Un­like ur­ban New Zealand, Tokyo’s lay­out kept peo­ple ac­tive and healthy, she said. ‘‘You see 98 per cent of peo­ple be­ing ac­tive and en­gaged in the city, mean­ing you’ve got peo­ple walk­ing to trans­port, walk­ing around, cy­cling, those kinds of el­e­ments,’’ Rooney said. She said 5 per cent of Tokyo res­i­dents were obese and 24 per cent were over­weight, while 28 per cent of New Zealanders were obese and 67 per cent were over­weight. ‘‘Obe­sity has a post code,’’ Rooney said, ref­er­enc­ing how a res­i­dent’s health was af­fected by the city they live in. New Zealand Walk­ing Ac­cess Com­mis­sion (NZWAC) chief ex­ec­u­tive Eric Pyle said links be­tween obe­sity and city flows had been widely ac­knowl­edged in aca­demic re­ports. Fu­ture Ci­ties Post 2020 In Oc­to­ber the Royal Aus­tralasian Col­lege of Sur­geons said 32 per cent of Kiwi chil­dren aged up to 17 would be obese or over­weight by 2025. Pyle said changes like mov­ing walk­ways to schools away from roads could pro­mote ex­er­cise, and NZWAC and Auck­land Trans­port (AT) were look­ing into fur­ther al­ter­na­tives. Paul Rode, who helped mod­ify the em­pire state build­ing in New York to make it more eco-friendly, said his big­gest crit­i­cism for Auck­land was pedes­trian flows. ‘‘It’s mur­der walk­ing around this place,’’ Rode said. He said the streets and the traf­fic flows were not co­or­di­nated with stop lights from the pedes­trian’s per­spec­tive. ‘‘There should be a time limit that you’re stand­ing on the side- walk wait­ing to cross the street. ‘‘We have that in Man­hat­tan and when they im­ple­mented it was ab­so­lutely huge be­cause now peo­ple feel freer walk­ing around.’’ AT’s walk­ing, cy­cling and road safety man­ager Kathryn King said it was look­ing into ad­vanc­ing the au­to­matic de­tec­tion of cy­clists and pedes­tri­ans to help Auck­land crossings be­come more re­spon­sive.

Walk­ing around Auck­land’s CBD has been de­scribed as ‘‘mur­der’’ by an over­seas pub­lic de­sign ex­pert.

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