Hitch-hiking pickup signs condemned

PAUL EASTON
HUTT VALLEY REPORTER
Last updated 13:42 14/09/2012
hitch std
JOHN NICHOLSON
HITCHING A RIDE: Chris Milne, Hutt City Councillor who came up with the idea of "Hitching Posts" in 2006 at Maungaraki.

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Signs designed to encourage hitch-hiking in a Lower Hutt suburb have got the thumbs down from a community leader, who says they are dangerous.

"I've never liked the idea," Maungaraki Community Association president Rick Mooney said.

"There's a whole forest in Australia full of dead hitch-hikers," he said, referring to the Belango State Forest, where serial killer Ivan Milat dumped the bodies of his victims.

Mr Mooney planned to survey the Maungaraki community on the future of hitching posts, installed along Dowse Drive in 2006 by the Hutt City Council.

"My personal view is that they are dangerous, but I don't want to force my opinion on anyone," he said.

Hutt City Councillor Chris Milne came up with the idea for the hitching posts after picking up people on his way to work in Wellington.

He believed they were used, especially by tertiary students heading into Lower Hutt or Wellington.

Other regions, for example Wanaka, had introduced similar schemes, he said.

"I'm not going to die in a ditch over it. But there's no evidence of any problems and in fact they are proliferating."

In May this year Czech tourist Dagmar Pytlickovawas picked up while hitch-hiking from Cromwell to Fairlie by Jason Frandi, who sexually assaulted and murdered her, before killing himself.

In 2005, German hitch-hiker Birgit Brauer was murdered in Taranaki by Michael Wallace.

Mr Milne said no-one was being forced to use the hitching posts.

"There's a difference between that and hitch-hiking locally in a metropolitan area. If you apply the same standard, you wouldn't let people play rugby because they might get a broken leg."

Hutt Valley area commander Inspector Mike Hill said police were aware of the hitching posts at Maungaraki.

While there had been no reports of trouble with them, police discouraged hitch-hiking in general.

Contact Paul Easton
Hutt Valley reporter
Email: paul.easton@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @pwe74

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- The Dominion Post

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