“It’s like they forget freight movement on roads even exists,’ is the response from Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand on proposals outlined in a plan by Waka Kotahi called Reshaping Streets.
The trucking industry organisation fears the plans would disrupt New Zealand’s vital freight supply leading to serious consequences in a number of areas, according to the road transport peak body.
Chief executive Nick Leggett says the proposals to allow councils to make sweeping changes to roads are inconsistent with the Government’s own Policy Statement of Land Transport 2021/22 strategic priority of Improving Freight Connections.
“Empowering New Zealand’s 78 local councils to introduce a patchwork of experimental long-term pilots that unduly impede vehicle traffic is not a coherent way to develop a sustainable roading network,” says Leggett.
“Transporting New Zealand is concerned that the proposals will also have unintended negative consequences relating to safety and climate change priorities. Roads are the lifeblood of New Zealand’s economy, and carry 93 per cent of freight. Slowing down trucks and making it harder for them to go about their business ultimately adds costs to consumers at a time we can least afford it.
“Proposals that impede vehicle traffic and prioritise alternative transport need to expressly consider the needs of trucks and their operators. After all, heavy vehicle operators pay the majority of road user charges that fund and maintain our roading system,” says Leggett.
“Urban streets play an essential role for road freight, particularly ‘last kilometre’ delivery to businesses, retailers, and consumers. Attractive, vibrant streets and communities need to be well supplied. Despite this, Reshaping Streets does not adequately address road freight accessibility.
“Slowing down traffic with obstructions like vehicle restrictions, traffic calming, and modal filters contributes to congestion, which can increase idling, impede fuel-efficient driving, and increase vehicle emissions. It should be mandatory for emission impacts to be assessed as part of any roadway changes. It is unbelievable that in this day and age this isn’t a key consideration.”
Leggett says more time and care is needed before introducing rapid and substantial regulatory changes.
“We think that instead of councils focusing on lower speed limits, they should use a consistent traffic engineering design of the environment that leads drivers to naturally choose to drive at an appropriate speed – in other words, we need better design and planning of the transport system and infrastructure as a whole.
“Transporting New Zealand strongly supports the overall need for slower speeds around schools and better public transport, however the current proposals in Reshaping Streets need a complete overhaul before we are able to support them.”