Hard road to cross
Why did Trudy Froger cross Great South Rd? She didn't. Ever.
The 82-year-old has lived at Longford Park Retirement Village for eight years and she's never once ventured across on foot to Southgate because the traffic is so bad.
And she feels "like a prisoner" in her own home, she says.
Now Mrs Froger is talking to local politicians and getting signatures from shopkeepers and residents in a bid to get things changed.
The nearest signalled pedestrian crossing to the village is just over 100m up the road from its side gate opposite McDonald's.
That's a hard slog for Mrs Froger, who uses a walker and wants to save her energy to get around the supermarket.
And the crossing itself is "mighty dangerous" even for the able-bodied. She's seen several near misses when drivers haven't noticed the lights turning red because the signals 50m north at Glenora Rd are still green.
"If you're old and you want to go there you gamble with your life."
Longford Park provides an occasional shuttle bus to Southgate but that's no replacement for nipping across to the supermarket on foot, she says.
"What if it's near teatime and I've forgotten to get salt for my potatoes?"
New houses and shops are bringing the extra traffic but Mrs Froger says she's not against development.
"Takanini's going ahead which is a great thing."
But improvements made now would make a big difference to older people.
"We want a little bit of life in the time we have left. Then on a fine day I could say to my neighbour, ‘Let's go for a cup of coffee or a bit of lunch'."
And it's not just pedestrians who have problems - village resident Bob Crighton reckons drivers leaving Longford Park Drive are getting a raw deal as the traffic gets worse.
"Dithery old buggers" like himself won't drive on to the roundabout until there's a big gap, which frustrates the "young speedsters" stuck behind them, he says.
Everyone has different ideas about what could change, including a longer-timed pedestrian crossing, an island in the middle of Great South Rd, moving the crossing further south and even upgrading the Walters Rd roundabout to traffic lights.
Auckland Transport's Randhir Karma says a complaint was also received from village residents earlier this year.
But engineers found a crossing further south won't work because it would obstruct Southgate's driveways and general traffic flow.
But residents are right to worry about drivers getting confused between the two sets of lights by McDonald's, he says.
"What we could do is look at orientation of the traffic lights on the poles. [We] could potentially look at how [we] might direct the traffic lights so they're not confusing to the approaching vehicles."
Auckland Transport has to find a "fine balance" between traffic and pedestrians, he says.
The organisation is "grappling with congestion across the region" but has few funds to fix it, with the cheapest solution being to get cars off the road by promoting cycling and public transport, he says.
There are no plans right now to change the roundabout to traffic lights but it is flagged for a review in the long-term plan, he says.
The growth in traffic could eventually force it to build a signalised intersection but upgrades in the near future are more likely to be "little tweaks".
- © Fairfax NZ News
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