The Green Party wants school speed limits reduced in order to boost the number of children biking and walking to school.
The Safe to School campaign released today calls for a 30 km/h speed limit outside all urban schools, and an 80 km/h limit around rural schools. It asks for the limit to drop to 30 km/h during rural school pick-up and drop-off times.
The Greens say traffic has doubled on New Zealand roads since the 1980s, and over the same period the percentage of children getting to school independently has reduced.
In 1989, 12 percent of primary school children biked and 42 percent walked to school. Today only two percent bike and 29 percent walk to school.
The plan proposes to have the speed limits introduced over the next three years, giving local councils enough time to make any adjustments to the design of the roads in front of schools, such as traffic calming measures.
"Ring-fenced funding" of $200 million in the transport budget would be available to local authorities working alongside schools to develop safe routes for walking and cycling.
"It's not surprising that safety is now cited by parents as the main reason for not letting their kids walk and bike to school," says Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter.
"Parents should feel confident that when they wave goodbye to their child in the morning, they're going to be safe riding their bike or walking with their friends to school."
Ms Genter says dropping the speed limit around schools is a "no-brainer", and mega cities such as London, New York and Paris took action years ago.
She says evidence shows that if a child gets hit outside their school by a car travelling at 45km/h they only have a 50-50 chance of surviving, but if a car was going 30 km/h they would have 90 percent chance.
"At the moment communities need to apply to the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), and meet certain strict criteria, to reduce the speed limit outside their school," says Ms Genter.
However, the Greens policy would put the onus on councils and the NZTA before increasing the speed limit above 30 km/h outside schools.
More information on the Safe to School policy can be found here.