In Taranaki, as in much of Aotearoa, we rely heavily on private motor vehicles to get around.
We now know how bad this is for the environment’s health, and the long-reaching impacts that climate change will have. This car-centric lifestyle has evolved over many decades, and will take time to change.
Where we can, we need to either reduce how much we travel or change how we travel – most likely a combination of both for each of us. Generally, it is more feasible for people in urban areas than those in rural areas who live further from services and amenities.
A shift to low emission transport options is essential to reduce carbon emissions. Rethinking how we travel and developing a network that makes it safe, convenient, and attractive to walk, cycle and take a bus for day-to-day trips is vital to making that change.
We don’t expect everyone to walk, cycle or bus every trip, but it we can enable enough people to change from their private vehicle for more trips, transport generated emissions will be reduced. We also need to improve the road safety for all residents, regardless of how they choose to get around our region.
Clearly, funding is not limitless, so it is impossible to have bus routes and walking/cycling paths everywhere we may want them throughout the region, so councils will need to prioritise what to do, and when, based on community desire/need.
Climate change is posing an urgent challenge to the resilience of our communities, and recent events are a clear reminder that we must maintain our focus not only on the immediate needs of rebuilding, but also on our increasingly urgent response to reducing emissions and building healthier and safer communities.