Time for action after pedestrian injuries
It has happened again. Another pedestrian struck by a bus in the not so newly reconfigured Manners St area and again passengers, pedestrians, the driver and the poor man himself are injured, traumatised and shaken by the event.
I've written before that when it comes to human flesh versus bus there can only be one winner so I just can't for the life of me understand why we continue to have public transport routes that put those two protagonists in such close proximity.
We have tried educating pedestrians to be more careful but as with smokers and binge drinkers we must sometimes accept that when self-control fails, you just have to step in and protect people from themselves.
The answer is bleedingly obvious, physical barriers between the pavement and the street.
Now I know many will cry that if you step out into the path of a bus that's your own silly fault but that same logic isn't applied to our national crusades against those who chose to smoke, binge drink, drink-drive, overeat, abuse drugs, fail to get an education or have kids they can't possibly hope to raise unassisted.
So why is it that our council seems to accept a certain body count on our inner city pedestrian thoroughfares is somehow tolerable and not take definitive and immediate action to make our streets safer?
We are spending millions demolishing and regulating earthquake prone buildings in fear of an event that may or may not occur in the next thousand or more years yet we appear to turn a blind eye to a problem that is occurring with monotonous and tragic regularity right now.
Wellington is not, as many have claimed, the jaywalking capital of New Zealand. It is simply a city with narrow winding inner city streets with high pedestrian traffic and large buses, many of which move very quickly and quietly.
Pedestrians here are no greater or lesser risk takers than anywhere else, they are simply responding to the traffic environment that has been created around them.
Partway through writing this column I learned that the latest victim of our dangerous inner city streets is a man I know, Tim Brown.
Tim's no risk taker.
He's a businessman and a husband and a dad and a good bloke to have a beer with and watch a game at the stadium with.
There may be some irony in the fact that companies he's involved with operate our bus service but this isn't the time to point fingers or play the blame game. It is time for action.
When I say barriers, I mean barriers. Big iron bollards with linked chains with spikes in them that make it impossible in the hubbub of walking through the city to stray on to the streets.
Barriers that mean without consciously putting your life at risk you cannot cross the road anywhere but at a controlled pedestrian crossing.
The council says it has taken several measures to deal with the problem. Well, guess what? Those measures have not been successful. Tim Brown is testament to that.
Perhaps if we hadn't spent so much money cleaning up after the Occupy protest, conducting a poll on the Wellywood sign or building lobster loos we would have the money to get cracking on this important project right away.
As it is, cost cannot be an argument against immediate action any more, there is a clear and present danger to the citizens of Wellington and waiting for the next meeting of the appropriate council committee simply isn't good enough.
If our elected councillors and publicly paid city officials are serious about what they do, we will have a special taskforce set up by this time next week and the resources available to implement meaningful changes within the month.
If we don't, I suggest all those Wellingtonians who have protested the sign, camped out in Civic Square, or marched against asset sales, get off their chuffs and demonstrate for action on a genuine life-and-death issue that potentially affects everyone of us.
The Dominion Post