Crossing without fear

LAURA BASHAM
Last updated 13:00 27/12/2012

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A campaign to educate pedestrians and drivers about the use of courtesy crossings will come to Richmond, but the Tasman District Council is stopping short of putting up warning signs.

Last summer, a visitor to Richmond, road safety expert Stu Kearns, of Auckland, labelled the raised crossings deathtraps because of uncertainty for pedestrians and drivers about what they should do.

He called for education about using them and for warning signs to be put up or for the crossings to be removed.

This sparked debate over the dangers of the crossings, which was reignited in September when a Richmond boy was knocked over by a car on a crossing in Queen St.

An awareness campaign about courtesy crossings is running in Nelson, and will be in Richmond from January 7 to 11.

The campaign is led by characters Flo and Slo - a snail - who remind pedestrians and drivers how courtesy crossings work.

Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne said the campaign was designed to create awareness, and was separate from a decision on signs, which had yet to be made.

The council decided in November to retain courtesy crossings in Richmond, saying they had proven to be a safe form of crossing.

However, councillors put off deciding whether to erect signs until they got more information.

"I think people are interested to see whether we put up signs," said Mr Kempthorne.

He expected the issue to come back to the first meeting of the engineering services committee in the new year.

"We're having the campaign because it is easy to become blase about [crossings].

"Pedestrians need to look before crossing, and drivers need to slow and watch out for pedestrians."

Mr Kearns, who will visit Nelson again this summer, said he applauded the council for taking a proactive stance.

"It's a step in the right direction."

While the campaign was being held during the holidays, there was a need to educate people year round, he said.

The campaign message is: "Go Slow - Smile and Share". Pedestrians should not simply step out on to a crossing, but look first, make eye contact with drivers and smile.

Drivers are asked to go slow, smile and remember that pedestrians are fragile, and to let pedestrians cross if they have been waiting a while.

It's all about courtesy.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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