Wakefield parent Charlotte Thynne, left, with daughter Evie, 7, along with fellow parent Krystal Rooney and her daughter, Isabelle, 6, use a pedestrian refuge on the Whitby Rd section of State Highway 6 in June. Many residents are calling for improvements to crossing points along the stretch of increasingly busy highway.
A safety assessment of the pedestrian refuges across the Whitby Rd section of State Highway 6 through Wakefield has been completed after a plea by parents for urgent improvements.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency system manager Andrew James said the completed safety assessment was awaiting a final review “before we get it back to the school community in the next three to four weeks”.
The assessment comes after a group of parents in June wrote to Tasman District Council and Waka Kotahi outlining their concerns about the three pedestrian refuges across the road through fast-growing Wakefield, which is 22km south of Nelson.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is the Crown entity responsible for the state highway network throughout New Zealand.
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“There is a high risk of serious accident and injury to children and parents using the pedestrian refuges adjacent to Arrow St and the Village Green, especially before and after school,” says the letter, which was signed by a parent representative and the Wakefield School board of trustees chairman.
The parents called for the refuges to be made large enough to accommodate a pram or a child’s bike. Elongated “S” or “Z” shaped refuges were suggested. Other suggestions included the removal of parking spaces adjacent to the refuges to improve visibility and better signage.
Included with the letter was 12 pages of signatures from residents who supported the concerns and improvements suggested by parents. The Wakefield Community Council also wrote a letter of support as did Constable Jamie White, of Wakefield police.
James responded the next day, saying Waka Kotahi had just been made aware of the community’s concern “and we plan to carry out a road safety assessment of the three existing pedestrian refuges in the coming weeks”.
Two parents last week made a presentation to the council operations committee, pushing again for improvements to the refuges. Parent Jenny Lines said the pair represented a “growing group of concerned citizens who agree that the pedestrian crossings we have at the moment are no longer adequate for the increased volume of people and traffic in our village”.
MARTIN DE RUYTER/STUFF
Residents of Wakefield are concerned about the safety of pedestrians crossing the Whitby Rd section of State Highway 6 through the village and want improvements. Video first published in June, 2020.
Many families wouldn’t let their children walk to school because of the need to cross the main road, so they “drive them every day”, Lines said.
Operations committee chairman, deputy mayor Stuart Bryant, and deputy chairwoman, councillor Christeen Mackenzie, met with some TDC staff after the parent presentation to ask them to talk with the Waka Kotahi team about the matter.
“I hope to see an outcome where parents can walk with their children to school, supporting active transport, and feel safe,” Mackenzie said.
James said while the final review of the safety assessment was awaited, the wider school community, parents and caregivers were encouraged “to be aware that at all pedestrian refuges, traffic has priority and young children are not good judges of traffic speed and timing”.
“We strongly advise that children should be supervised by a responsible adult when using any un-signalised crossing on a busy road.”
Teaching children how to understand risks when crossing the road, teaching the need for patience at crossings, providing walking school buses, and offering cycling tips and instruction were valuable ways of ensuring young children’s safety, James said.
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