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"Arrogant and paternalistic" approach to pedestrians slammed

"Arrogant and paternalistic" approach to pedestrians slammed

Media Release - 14 August 2012

Former Mt Victoria Residents Association president and pedestrian advocate Kent Duston has slammed the Wellington City Council officers responsible for the "arrogant and paternalistic" review of pedestrian safety.

According to Mr Duston, the review is "a shambolic waste of ratepayers funds, as it's nothing more than a whitewash of the inability of the Council's traffic engineers to design safe roads in the CBD."

"The steering group for the review included all the usual suspects - the Council, the Regional Council, Police, the bus company, the bus drivers ... in fact, just about everyone except pedestrians", said Mr Duston. "Council officers are well aware of pedestrian advocacy organisations such as Living Streets, yet they simply weren't invited to participate on the steering group. It's an appalling level of anti-pedestrain bias."

Mr Duston said the review simply targeted pedestrians, rather than addressing the underlying problems. "The Council's traffic engineers have deliberately created a dangerous environment for Wellington's pedestrians, but rather than addressing their failings they're resorting to blaming the victims."

"The changes made by the traffic engineers to the Golden Mile have dramatically worsened both the safety and the quality of service for pedestrians", said Mr Duston. "For instance, the intersection where Mr Brown was hit by a bus provided only five seconds of 'the little green man' in a one and a half minute traffic light cycle when the accident occurred. This is clearly insufficient for the tens of thousands of people who use the intersection daily. Officers were warned in written submissions that it would create impatience that leads to jaywalking, yet they've done little to address the short cycle times either after the submissions were received or since the accident that left Mr Brown in hospital."

Mr Duston also pointed out that the Council's traffic engineers had ignored every recommendation in the independent safety review of the Taranaki/Manners intersection. "The review had concrete and practical proposals for improving safety on one of the most dangerous intersections in the city, yet the traffic engineers ignored every single one of them. So why are ratepayers being asked to fund independent safety audits at all, given the Council's officers blithely disregard the recommendations?"

"If the Council's officers were serious about improving pedestrian safety, they would involve pedestrians in the discussion", said Mr Duston. "The fact that pedestrian groups were excluded from the debate simply shows that the 'blame the victim' mentality is alive and well in the Council's traffic engineering department. It wouldn't be acceptable for iwi to be excluded from discussions about Treaty issues, so it's not acceptable for pedestrians to be excluded from discussions about our own safety."


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