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Police say walkers need to look before crossing

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

POLICE say buses are not the problem on Wellington’s Golden Mile – human behaviour is.

Inspector Peter Baird made the comment after a Wellington City Council briefing on pedestrian safety.

“The whole crux of the inquiry is that people do not look,” says Mr Baird, New Zealand Police road policing manager.

Mr Baird is part of the review steering group which presented research and recommendations on safety on the Golden Mile to councillors.

He says from the police’s research, accidents seldom happen because of drivers.

“I don’t know why the public perceive buses as part of the problem,” says Mr Baird.

The review says accidents are rare on the Golden Mile and pedestrians are at fault, not buses or cars.

“The speeds are in the 20s and below, the problem we have is that when you get hit by a bus doing 20 kms, it’s the physics, the body mass of the bus,” Mr Baird says.

“Being hit by a bus at 20kmh is the same as being hit by a car doing 130kms, so that’s why it hurts.”

Recommendations from the review include:

• Social marketing campaigns
• Reducing the speed limit to 20km
• Improving bus visibility
• Changing pedestrian behaviour with permanent barriers and yellow lines
• Closing Bond St to traffic

During the briefing, Councillor Iona Pannett said in her experience, bus drivers could be aggressive and hostile.

Paul Hume, chief risk officer at NZ Bus and a member of the review group, says it invests a lot of safety training in their drivers and that the perception that buses are at fault is changing.

“There’s evidence to back up the fact that driver behaviour is not at fault. Ninety-nine percent of buses drive at well below the speed limit,” Mr Hume says.

“There is no, one effective solution and it needs to be done as an integrated solution. Influencing human behaviour is the fundamental solution.”

Mr Baird says it’s interesting that the recommendations do not support an enforcement approach, but prefer education and engineering.

Paul Eagle, councillor for the Southern ward, says it is the first proper briefing they have had on the Golden Mile safety review.

“It’s a bit Johnny-come-lately, just in terms of them saying ‘hey, look here’s a whole lot of different things we could be doing’. Why couldn’t this have been done sooner?”

The Bond St closure means the taxi rank in that street may need to be shifted, and Mercer St is one option being considered.

Retailers in Bond St and Mercer St are against the closing of Bond St.

Hell Pizza owner Craig Vurnham says it would only shift the problem to Mercer St.

“Obviously we’d applaud it. But it is just swapping one retailer’s problem for another’s.”

The plan would be a step in the wrong direction, says Mercer St’s Mountain Designs manager Briony O’Farrell, right.

“I wouldn’t like it, because obviously we’ve got a lot of customer parking outside. I can’t see any benefit at all for us.”

Kenneth Simms, the manager of Bivouac/Outdoor on Mercer St, left, says he is definitely opposed to the council’s recommendation.

He says it would be a particular problem on weekends, when the parks are needed for
families.

Leanne Maguire, manager of Swan Barbers in Bond St, says she is in favour of the taxis going but not the road closure.

“In terms of traffic and street parking it would affect our business negatively.”

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