Taking part in regular physical activity, such as walking, cycling, participating in sports and playing offers heaps of benefits for our physical and mental health.
It can improve heart (cardiovascular) health, strengthen muscles and bones, boost energy levels, and enhance our overall quality of life.
We’re more likely to get out and get active when our roads and neighbourhoods are safe to move around and there are places to play and do sports. That means having:
- streets, parks, playgrounds and road designs which encourage walking, play and cycling.
- seperated paths to protect people travelling actively, via walking or cycling, around their communities.
- safe speeds on our roads that protect children and communities, and make sure we feel safe to take whatever form of transport suits us best.
When our cities are designed like this, it helps everyone be more active and live more healthily. It also means we use our cars less, reducing emissions and improving our air quality too.
How our physical environments affect our health
A generation ago it was the norm to move about by walking or cycling and to head to the playground or park to be active. But Tāmaki Makaurau has turned into a city that’s dangerous and difficult to travel around with people being structured out of local parks and sports grounds. It means many of us don’t feel safe getting out and being active, and it’s causing preventable deaths and serious injuries.
- Every week there are 12 deaths or serious injuries on Auckland’s roads.
- 52% of Aucklanders say they do not feel safe cycling because of the way people drive, and 75% of parents and children would cycle to school if roads were safer.
- Only 13% of trips in Auckland are completed by active transport (walking or cycling), compared to 25% in Wellington and 15% in Christchurch.
- About 19% of children do not participate in any play and 29% do not participate in sports.
- Half of adults in New Zealand aren’t meeting recommended guidelines for physical activity, which is a major contributor to ill-health and poor wellbeing.
How our physical environments need to change
By redesigning our city to have more greenspaces and our streets and roads to be more people-friendly, we can reduce death and serious injury on our roads, help people get more active, and ultimately improve our health and wellbeing. We want to see:
- Safe speeds on our roads, including permanent speed limits of 30km/h in areas around all schools, marae and town centres, and 60km/h permanent speed limits on rural roads to prevent crashes in high risk areas.
- Continued improvements in safety systems for pedestrians and cyclists, including improved safety features protecting vulnerable road users, and increased enforcement of speed limits.
- Equitable access to greenspaces and sports grounds, including the amount of playgrounds our children are able to use.
Taking action in your community
We can all play a part in improving our local streets and neighbourhoods. Here’s some ideas on how to create change in your own community.
- Have your say on Safe Speeds in Tāmaki Makaurau. Auckland Transport are currently asking for feedback on proposed speed reductions in our city, focussed around schools, marae, town centres and some rural roads. Get involved and share your views.
- Help your child’s school get active. Auckland Transport provides support to schools to ensure it’s safe for children and parents to walk and cycle, and reduce the number of cars around the school gates. The Travelwise school programme includes tips on setting up a walking school bus, a safe school travel plan, and bike safe training.
- Explore your neighbourhood. Auckland Council and Auckland Transport are making it easier for all of us to walk and cycle more. Get out and get active with your whānau: Akl Paths helps you identify safe walkways in your local neighbourhood; discover safe cycling routes in Tāmaki Makaurau; or take advantage of Auckland Transport’s free cycling courses for tamariki and adults, and free guided walks.