Living Streets Oral Submission to the HCC Draft Annual Plan 2014-2015

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This is the oral submission recently presented to the Hamilton City Council by Judy McDonald of Living Streets Hamilton.

I would like to use this time to point out some of the real problems facing pedestrians in Hamilton, and the ongoing failure to address these. We believe this is largely due to a lack of direction, and that funds are not being aimed at the most urgent needs. I would like to examine HCC action at Five Cross Roads, and at the large roundabout outside Founders’ Theatre on Seddon Rd. Please note, this is merely an example: there are many other equally dangerous areas, including roundabouts at Rototuna and Dinsdale, and the very unpleasant Te Rapa Rd at the city end, not to mention “Russian Roulette” at Te Aroha St.

While we appreciate that an effort is finally being made at Five Cross Rds, it is less than half of what is needed for genuine safety. The argument is, as always, “there’s no money,” meaning that we get one light controlled pedestrian crossing (on Fifth Ave), two raised bed crossings (on Peachgrove Rd) and almost nothing at all on the most dangerous arm, Boundary Rd (a wider refuge really doesn’t help a lot). As a point of interest, the widened concrete median strips have reduced the exits to essentially one lane, especially outside the petrol station on Boundary Rd. If the whole roundabout was also single-laned, this would be fine. As it is, some interesting damage is likely to ensue.

At the same time (see Living Streets May 2014-Attachments ) there is to be a refurbishment of the large roundabout outside Founders’ Theatre, which was mangled in the V8 debacle. While the restoration is desirable, and no doubt the council will be relieved to be rid of one further embarrassing reminder of the whole event, the priorities are wrong. The roundabout is ugly but perfectly functional, and has been for quite some years. The remake is nice, but not vital.

It seems to be happening at the expense of a basic safety measure: for the price of the refurbishment, we could have had a light-controlled pedestrian crossing on Boundary Rd, which would allow safe pedestrian and cycle access in a horribly dangerous area. What is more important: a nicely grassed roundabout, or a schoolchild’s life? We are very concerned that Five Cross Rds will now be deemed “fixed” despite the fact that it is not safe, and needs further work. Better prioritisation of funds might have achieved a real fix.

The city has spent huge amounts of money on the construction of the Ring Road, which will not realise its potential for many years, until it crosses the river and connects to the as-yet unbuilt Peacockes subdivision. In the meanwhile it has shifted a traffic congestion problem from Peachgrove Rd to Ruakura Rd: that issue is the subject of another submission. As new sections open, the problem may shift further, onto Cambridge Rd and ultimately Cobham Drive.

In all of this, the need for safe, sustainable alternatives to private cars is being ignored, in a city that is ideally designed for both cycling and walking. Dunedin is taking positive action regarding pedestrianisation (see Living Streets May 2014-Attachments). Napier, Tauranga, and New Plymouth have already acted. We need to think harder, and we can do much better. It doesn’t need to cost a fortune, but it does need genuine public consultation. Young people are moving away from driving in droves, due to lack of funds and lack of confidence, and a desire to do things differently. Councils need to listen to what they are saying (see Living Streets May 2014-Attachments “Hit the Brakes” and “Teens turn off driving”).

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One comment on “Living Streets Oral Submission to the HCC Draft Annual Plan 2014-2015

  1. I think the message is getting through to council. I’m excited to hear about their upcoming cycling initiatives.

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