Park speedsters endanger lives

01:00, Aug 18 2010
SLOW
SLOW DOWN: Five-year-old Jude Chambers is one of several children who enjoys visiting the roosters at the Onetangi Sports Park entrance.

Friends of the Roosters and parks representatives are calling for drivers to slow down on the newly sealed road to Onetangi Sports Park.

Since the park's access road was sealed in June, Rooster Friend John Newton says the speed of some cars travelling into the park has increased dramatically, putting roosters, children and park users at risk.

The road was sealed shortly after an accident killed a local man. The budget for sealing the road had been approved in an earlier community board meeting.

The roosters gather at the park entrance.

Mr Newton says they are regularly visited by locals and have become a bit of a tourist attraction.

"If motorists do not slow down significantly before they turn into the park, they risk harming not only the birds but young children who enjoy feeding them."

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Recreational activities at the park begin at the O'Brien Rd gate. The children's mountain bike track runs alongside the access road, which is also used by walkers, runners and dog owners.

The area is also a popular place for learner drivers to practice.

Former councillor for the Hauraki Gulf Islands and founding member of the Friends of the Roosters group, Faye Storer, says that while it was a good idea to have the access road sealed, she was surprised there had been no traffic calming measures installed as part of the project.

"The access road is part of the park, not a public road, and should have an appropriate speed limit."

Some parks in Auckland have speed limits of 5km to 15kmh and traffic calming measures installed such as slow down signs and speed humps.

But Auckland city parks officer Gary Wilton says that while the safety of all users of the reserve is important to the council, if signs were to be installed, any limit under 50kmh would be difficult to enforce under the current bylaw, and would be ignored by most drivers.

"The road is largely straight and has good visibility along its length. It is nearly 1km from the gate to the sports pitches. An artificially low speed limit or speed bumps are not a suitable option."

Mr Wilton says the sports park entry road has been designed to inhibit speed.

"It's narrower than before and has no white line. There is no official speed limit on the newly sealed section of road because it is not a legal road, being a road within a park.

"But people are still required to drive safely and more than 50kmh is dangerous. We will also be trimming vegetation around the entrance, to increase visibility".

Meanwhile, uncontrolled dogs also pose a threat to the birds and at least 20 roosters, ducks and ducklings have been killed in the park by dogs in the past 12 months.

Mr Newton says: "Two dogs recently caught attacking the roosters looked like treasured family pets but they simply went berserk. They can develop a pack mentality when let loose among wildlife."

Mr Wilton says the best prevention is to raise public awareness.

"Parents with children feeding the roosters are asked to be aware of vehicles, and dog owners must keep their dogs under control at all times."

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