Wellington: NZ's jaywalking capital

06:03, Jul 09 2011
AGAINST THE RED: A Wellington pedestrian spotted crossing the road before waiting for the green man this week.
AGAINST THE RED: A Wellington pedestrian spotted crossing the road before waiting for the green man this week.

Wellington has the country's worst rates of pedestrians being injured in crashes, yet jaywalkers continue to risk their lives by darting across inner-city streets.

There have been 459 crashes involving pedestrians in the city in the past five years. In those, five people have died, including jogger Venessa Green, who was hit by a bus on Willis St last week.

The 40-year-old's death has added fuel to the debate over how to prevent people jaywalking in the city. Among the suggestions are barriers on footpaths, a hard-hitting advertising campaign and cutting the speed limit.

Wellington City Council lowered the CBD speed limit from 50kmh to 30kmh after Corinne Bongiovanni, 21, was killed by a bus in Willis St seven years ago.

Her mother, Brenda Bongiovanni, said it made an immediate difference, but people were quick to become complacent. "It's really disheartening because the potential is for it to happen again and again, and again."

In the past five years, nearly 19 per cent of Wellington crashes resulting in injury involved pedestrians – more than double the national average. And since the latest bus-priority lanes opened in November, seven people have been struck by buses.


Yet jaywalkers are not taking heed. The Dominion Post counted 336 people crossing against the traffic signals at the intersection of Willis St, Willeston St and Lambton Quay between 1pm and 1.30pm on Wednesday. The intersection had the third highest number of pedestrian accidents in the CBD over the past five years and the highest number involving buses.

Wellington city councillor and road safety portfolio leader Bryan Pepperell suggested lowering the CBD speed limit again to 15kmh or 10kmh. But, ultimately, the onus was on pedestrians to cross safely, he said.

Tramways Union Wellington president Nick Kelly said a hard-hitting campaign was needed to replace the present signs featuring chickens. He referred to a Melbourne tram commercial that compared the weight of a tram to 30 rhinos.

Jaywalking count

The Dominion Post staked out six inner-city intersections and counted how many people jaywalked without waiting for the green man in 30 minutes.

Lambton Quay/Willeston St/Willis St – 336

Taranaki St/Courtenay Place/Manners St/Dixon St – 156

Courtenay Place/Cambridge Tce – 178

Ghuznee St/Cuba St – 171

Boulcott St/Willis St/Manners St –180

The Terrace, outside the Colonial Cafe and Brandons Lawyers – 213

Counts were done from 1pm to 1.30pm on either Wednesday or Thursday. Crossing at any time other than when the green man was on was counted as jaywalking.


The Dominion Post