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Golden Mile safety improvements endorsed

9 August 2012
Golden Mile safety improvements endorsed

Temporary barriers on both sides of Willis Street between Mercer and Manners Street will remain in place until further safety improvements are implemented.

Wellington City Council’s Strategy and Policy Committee was today briefed on a number of proposed safety works on the Golden Mile, including closing the Bond Street exit to Willis Street to traffic. The intersection has been the scene of a number of bus-versus-vehicle crashes since 2010.

Other measures aimed at improving pedestrian safety to be introduced while the temporary barriers remain in place include:
• Low-level street furniture such as seats placed to channel pedestrians towards safer areas to cross
• the removal of unnecessary obstructions to sight lines such as telephone boxes and poster bollards
• reduced waiting times for pedestrians at controlled crossings
• more driver speed feedback signs
• work with NZ Bus on improving the visibility of the front of buses
• consulting on a further reduction in the speed limit to 20 km/h along Manners Street and the stretch of Willis Street between Mercer and Manners Streets.

The Council has decided to accelerate a plan to turn the Willis Street end of Bond Street into public space for pedestrians, similar to the Lambton Quay end of Grey Street The taxi rank in Bond Street also would be relocated in consultation with the taxi industry. These would require formal consultation traffic resolutions and could take a few months to implement.

The Council will consult on further reducing the speed limit and is in discussions with NZ Bus about increasing bus visibility such as changing the colour of the front of the buses, which are now predominantly black.

The proposals stem from two reports commissioned by a road safety steering group that has examined safety issues on the Golden Mile. The group included representatives from the City Council, Police, NZ Transport Agency, NZ Bus, ACC and Greater Wellington Regional Council.

The two reports – one on a crash reduction strategy, the other focusing on pedestrian behaviour – were presented to the committee and discussed today. The pedestrian behaviour report found that of 1386 pedestrians observed, 25 failed to look right until they were on the road, 2.5 metres from the kerb. Another 74 barely glanced right.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says Venessa Green and Tim Brown – both hit by buses on Willis Street – were top of the minds of committee members today.

“The death of Venessa and the crash involving Tim were terribly sad,” says the Mayor.

“The safety of people on foot is something everyone at the Council is extremely concerned about. We’re proud of our walkable capital, with more people along the Golden Mile than any other shopping street in Australasia.

“Today, therefore, is about taking action to minimise the risk of another serious crash.

“The aim is to lessen the risk of pedestrians instinctively stepping out onto the road and direct them to where it is safe to cross and to look before stepping out.”

Mayor Wade-Brown says work on the changes will start as soon as possible.

The City Council’s Transport Portfolio Leader, Councillor Andy Foster, says safety is everyone’s responsibility – pedestrians, car and bus drivers, the Council and police – and the Council recognises more has to be done to stop pedestrians being struck by buses on the Golden Mile.

He says NZTA figures identify Wellington City as being one of the three most over-represented communities in terms of road safety risk for pedestrians.

“We’ve done a lot of work over the years to improve safety in the CBD, not just the Golden Mile, and while we’ve got the crash numbers down the numbers are still too high and we want to get them down further,” says Cr Foster.

“We live in a compact city with narrow streets where 40,000 pedestrians a day are using the Golden Mile to get from A to B,” says Cr Foster.

“This encourages many people to cross our streets in a manner that would not be possible in many other cities.”

The City Council has signed up to NZTA’s ‘safe system’ approach that is a major focus of New Zealand’s Safer Journeys Road Safety Strategy. The approach acknowledges that responsible people sometimes get caught out in their use of roads so we should be making the road transport system more accommodating.”

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