Pupils crusading for lower speed limit
Year 8 pupils at Hunterville School are preparing for war and they are doing it by carefully studying council bylaws.
The speed limit on Bruce Rd outside the primary school is 50kmh but keen pupils want the Rangitikei District Council to make it 40kmh.
They have set up a group called SOS - Speed Outside School - which is meeting weekly to decide how they will present their case to the council in coming weeks.
The pupils have been hitting the books as well as asking advice from those in the know, to find out what it will take to get an enforceable change on the street.
SOS member Meg Marshall said the road around the school was dangerous, particularly the corner of Bruce Rd at the northern end that cars came around fast.
"No-one has been hit yet, but it would be awful if someone was," she said. "People feel nervous crossing the road to school."
In Palmerston North, a council bylaw is being discussed which could reduce speed limits around schools, and the Hunterville pupils have been keeping a close eye on the outcome.
They have broached their concerns with the NZ Transport Agency and local police and done a measure of traffic speeds with their help.
The pupils have also started a petition which is able to be signed in three businesses in Hunterville, and have surveyed school parents, reporting the results on the school's website.
Hunterville School principal Stephen Lewis said the pupils had been plotting their approach to the council for the past six to eight weeks.
"They've been very responsible and very adult-like in the way they have gone about it - it's been great to see. They don't want to go to council and not be in full charge of what they are saying."
The campaign for a slower speed around the school had initially been taken up by the school's board of trustees but it was turned down by the council twice, despite initial warmth to the idea.
That was when the pupils decided they wanted to take on the challenge.
Lewis said there had been no incidents or near-misses outside the school.
But it was not the safest, particularly with angled parking forcing cars to back out on to the road, he said.
"It's not even close to a main road, but having said that it is one of the main back roads into Hunterville.
"In the summer there are stock trucks and logging trucks and lots of rural contractors flying down there."
The pupils doing it were all year 8 but wanted to leave a legacy for pupils when they left for high school in 2014, Lewis said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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