Older people are "the canaries in the coal mine'' of society's future in terms of pedestrian safety
OTAGO DAILY TIMES
The Dunedin-founded group has released a manifesto highlighting the dangers faced by older people as pedestrians, and is calling on the Government to take note.
The manifesto, and the response to it, was the main topic of discussion at a Victa group meeting held yesterday at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery.
Victa founding trustee Lynley Hood told The Star there were "a lot of stroppy older people out there'', who wanted the world to know they were not living in retirement villages or rest-homes.
"They're doing a lot for the community - problem is, they no longer have the reflexes to leap out of the way of fast-moving vehicles,'' Dr Hood said.
Many seniors walked for exercise and convenience, but their freedom was restricted by the fact it was not safe to cross the road, she said.
"We all walk on the footpaths at some stage in our journeys, but older people are the most at risk,'' Dr Hood said.
"It is particularly alarming that there are moves to make it legal for people to cycle on footpaths,'' she said.
From 2006 to 2015, almost four times as many pedestrians (348) as cyclists (90) were killed on New Zealand roads - 30% of them were aged over 65.
Over the same period, 3207 seriously injured pedestrians spent 21,472 days in hospital - 8795 of those days were spent by pedestrians aged over 65.
The NZ Transport Agency had a Cycle Safety Action Plan, and invested more than $350 million in urban cycling infrastructure, but there was no Pedestrian Safety Action Plan, Dr Hood said.
Late last year, the Victa group launched a petition calling for a parliamentary inquiry into pedestrian safety. This petition would continue until after the general election in September, Dr Hood said.