Experts criticise city footpaths
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.