Thursday, 14 November 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Whitianga to get additional formal pedestrian crossings

The Mercury Bay Community Board approved three new formal (zebra) pedestrian crossings at a meeting on Wednesday last week. The approval is the result of years of lobbying by the Blind Foundation and the Whitianga Blind and Low Vision Support Group.

The crossings will be constructed on Cook Drive near the entrance to New World Whitianga, in Campbell Street near the Joan Gaskell Drive/Cook Drive roundabout and in Lee Street (near the Lee Street/Albert Street intersection.

“Many Whitianga residents who have low vision, blindness or other disabilities need to be able to safely cross our roads to access essential services,” says Brenda Glazer, spokesperson for the for the Whitianga Blind and Low Vision Support Group. “Formal zebra pedestrian crossings are the safest crossing type for many people who have low vision and blindness, particularly when located close to a busy intersection, such as the Joan Gaskell/Cook Drive roundabout.”

Cook Drive and Campbell Street are also commonly crossing by school students walking to and from Mercury Bay Area School. “I totally support the additional pedestrian crossings for the community, including school students - it ought to be a huge improvement,” says Mercury Bay Area School principal, John Wright.

A formal crossing in Lee Street was proposed to provide a safe route for people who have low vision, blindness and other disabilities from the Whitianga town centre to New World, to link up with the proposed new crossing on Cook Drive.

The Lee Street crossing was originally proposed for outside Mercury Twin Cinemas (where a refuge island is already situated). The Community Board, however, on the advice from Thames-Coromandel District Council staff, approved a formal crossing near the intersection of Lee Street and Albert Street, as it will be utilised by a higher volume of pedestrians.

With regard to the current refuge island outside Mercury Twin Cinemas, carparks directly alongside will be removed in order to allow pedestrians a clear sight distance of more than 50m in both directions.

TCDC will confirm contractors to construct the crossings in the foreseeable future. “We expect the work will be done in the next three months, but don’t have an official start date yet,” says Laurna White, the TCDC Communications and Economic Development Group Manager. “When we do, we will let the public know.”

Brenda Glazer says the Blind Foundation and the Whitianga Blind and Low Vision Support Group are thankful to TCDC and the Mercury Bay Community Board for acknowledging the challenges that many people with disabilities experience while crossing roads in Whitianga. “We look forward to seeing the three formal zebra pedestrian crossings going ahead very soon,” she says. “This will hopefully enable people to cross more of our roads independently.”

In addition, the Mercury Bay Community Board also recommended at their meeting last week that security cameras be installed at the service lane beside Liquorland in Lee Street to monitor the actions of motorists and that footpath markings and signage be installed to warn pedestrians of the service lane.

The Community Board also requested TCDC staff to investigate the banning of scooters (excluding mobility scooters), bicycles and skateboards from the footpaths in the Whitianga town centre and how heavy vehicles (excluding vehicles making deliveries to shops and restaurants) can be kept out of the town centre.

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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.