Accident reignites debate on crossings

LAURA BASHAM
Last updated 13:00 27/09/2012
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Calls are being renewed to remove or signpost courtesy crossings after a boy was knocked under a car in Richmond's Queen St.

The issue of the dangers of the crossings was highlighted in January when road safety expert Stu Kearns labelled them deathtraps because of uncertainty for both pedestrians and drivers over what they should do.

His concerns sparked a strong public reaction. A Nelson Mail online poll on whether courtesy crossings should be removed had 1288 people responding, with 810 voting for removal.

Tasman district mayor Richard Kempthorne said then that he would pass on his concerns to the council's road safety co-ordinator and encourage a discussion with the road policing manager.

On Tuesday a 10-year-old boy was knocked over by a car when he went over the raised crossing in Queen St on his scooter just after 3pm. His classmate, Jordan Stirling-Rowling, said the boy did not see the car coming because he went there every day and had expected it to stop.

Passersby lifted the car off the boy, who was taken to Nelson Hospital with bruising and abrasions but no serious injuries.

The incident sparked more online comment.

Rachel Neal, whose son crossed just before the boy was hit, said online today the crossings in Queen St were dangerous and should be made into "proper" crossings.

"My boy uses them every day; it scares me to have him out there by himself as everyone on the road needs to be more aware, especially at the times when our kids are going to and from school. This should send a message to kids and adults alike."

Mr Kearns said today he stood by his original concerns to remove the courtesy crossings or signpost them.

He said while there had been a lot of talk, he believed the council had missed the point.

"If they want to keep the crossings at least make sure people know what they are for. Signpost them and educate people about them." Mr Kearns, a retired police officer who used to head Auckland's serious crash unit, had raised the issue when he was on holiday in Nelson because he was concerned that out-of-towners did not know what the courtesy crossings were for.

He said today: "I think some people took me as a bloody Aucklander telling them how to do things. That was never the focus of the case."

Tasman road policing manager Inspector Jenni Richardson said she had not been particularly happy about somebody from out of town making comments.

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When the issue was raised in January, she said she would be happy for it to be an agenda item at the district's next road safety meeting.

She said today she did not know if that had happened. It was a council matter, not a police matter, she said.

Mr Kempthorne said today the council would wait for the police report on the accident to get the facts and would then consider whether changes or alterations needed to be made.

He was unsure whether the matter had been raised with the road policing manager after the issue was highlighted at the start of the year.

He said the Queen St accident had been tragic for everyone - the boy, his family and the woman driver.

"I'm very relieved the accident did not end up more seriously, and I applaud the quick reaction of those who helped."

The council has also come in for criticism on its stance on road safety, in removing road markings on local rural roads.

- The Nelson Mail

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