New signs at schools aimed to slow traffic

STACEY KNOTT
Last updated 12:58 16/04/2014

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Improved signage outside schools in Mahana and Appleby will be installed as a first step to address local concerns about speed limits.

Tasman schools and residents say they are pleased with progress by the Tasman District Council after their concerns were highlighted in the Nelson Mail last month.

The council has met with concerned parties including Mahana's representative of the Moutere Hills Residents Association, Julian Manning.

He presented the council with a petition with over 600 signatures which called for speeds to be reduced along Old Coach Road, amid concerns for Mahana School students.

Manning said he had been given an action plan from the TDC on how it would address the issues, though he felt red tape was hindering actions.

"I think it's all going in the right direction, I get highly frustrated at the system, it seems to require huge amounts of bureaucracy . . . the legislation that governs changing the speed limits seems extraordinary ponderous.

"We are making process but with something as critical as this, which could end with someone losing their life or being severely injured, I do wonder why there isn't a more direct or temporary route."

The council had also contacted rural schools in its vicinity to ask them if they had roading issues they wanted to discuss.

It was also undertaking a review of its speed limit bylaw later this year, which schools and residents could submit their views on. The council could then make changes to its bylaws.

Council transportation manager Gary Clark said road safety for schools was a joint responsibility of the council and community, including the schools and police. "The key thing is every school is different and has different issues."

He said they were firstly looking at immediate action like improving signage, and would also look at long-term measures like reducing speed limits.

The two schools earlier highlighted by the Nelson Mail, Appleby and Mahana, had different issues, he said. Appleby was on a road with a 100kmh speed limit, and the school needed to be more visible.

TDC would be supplying better signage so drivers knew they were entering a school area.

He said the Mahana school was more obvious but its signs needed to be better located.

Over the next month the council would be putting new road signs up for both schools, and create a detailed report on each.

The council was also looking at research about speed limits around schools.

"We are interested in making the roads safer, that may mean more appropriate speeds and it may mean other measures."

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Clark said a blanket approach was not the best answer and lowering speed limits "required a high level of consultation with other organisations". If the council was to use variable speed signs throughout the region it could cost about $500,000, he said.

Applyby School principal Graham Avery said he still wanted to see speed limits lowered outside the school but he felt consultation with the council was going well.

"I am feeling more positive about the situation now they have come on board and engaging with us."

Lower Moutere School had received a letter from the council asking it to highlight any issues.

Principal Barbara Bowen said the school was bordered by the 100kmh School Rd and Moutere Highway.

She wanted to see a limited speed zone at busy school times, including before and after school.

She also wanted to see better maintenance of the cycleway as there was poor visibility for young cyclists using it.

Mahana School principal Justin Neal said he was told that the school would have new signage within four weeks and that later there would be a review of the speed limit bylaw.

- Nelson

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