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Officers ‘wrong’ to reject barriers on Golden Mile

Aug 9th, 2012 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Lead Story, News

COUNCIL officers have been challenged to admit they were wrong to reject pedestrian barriers last year on Wellington’s Golden Mile.

City councillors were briefed on pedestrian safety proposals which include semi-permanent barriers and other footpath and roading changes.

“Are you going to admit you were wrong?” asked Councillor John Morrison, referring to the rejection last year of councillors’ suggestions for barriers.

Councillor Iona Pannett asked the officers, “have we let pedestrians down?”, and Councillor Ray Ahipene-Mercer said it was time to “get real”

A report commissioned by council said out of 1386 people, 25 did not look right before crossing, while 74 looked “passively”.

“The killer issue is the 25 people not looking right – it’s a passive environment,” said Mr Ahipene-Mercer.

“We have developed a euphoric atmosphere with soft trees and dappled light. People still take a punt. Let’s get real.”

In response, safe and sustainable transport manager Paul Barker said the changes to be implemented showed the council was getting real.

Mike Mendonça, the Council’s CitiOperations Manager, said the council needed to be decisive at this point.

Proposed changes included changes to footpath edges, removing impediments to pedestrians such as phone boxes and poster bollards, closing part of Bond St to motorists and reducing the speed limit.

Ms Pannett asked what was happening about the most recent accident involving NZ Bus director Tim Brown.

New Zealand Police road policing manager Inspector Peter Baird said it was an ongoing inquiry into Mr Brown’s accident.

“But it appears he didn’t look [when crossing the road],” said Mr Baird.

“It’s Wellington culture. You don’t take these kind of risks on Queen Street in Auckland.”

Deputy Mayor Ian McKinnon raised concerns that blame may be attributed to pedestrians rather than motorists.

He asked if changing crossing lights to favour pedestrians, which is also recommended by the report, would result in frustration for drivers.

Mr Barker said that the Council does not blame the victims, and is more interested in putting safer systems in place.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown agreed with the sentiment.

“We want to find solutions, not allocating blame. We are aiming to reduce serious injury and death, and make this a safer city for everyone,” she said.

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