Crossing for slower walkers opens

BRITTANY PICKETT
Last updated 05:00 05/08/2014
 trial crossing system
ROBYN EDIE/FAIRFAX NZ
ON THE BUTTON: Traffic engineer Eddie Cook with Waihopai school pupils, from left, Hayden Wu, 10, Madison Grieve, 11, and Ataahua Hona, 10, at the introduction of the trial crossing system at the intersection of Queens Drive and St Andrew St in Invercargill.

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A traffic engineer is hopeful his new pedestrian crossing will empower the elderly in the south.

Yesterday, the Invercargill City Council launched its "world first" trial of the system that helps slower pedestrians cross safely and improves traffic flow.

Council senior traffic engineer Eddie Cook came up with the idea after realising a lot of slower walkers needed more time to cross roads and he devised the scheme while completing his masters in transportation.

The system offers a longer crossing time, as well as the normal crossing time. Signs, braille and audible cues guide pedestrians on how to use the new system.

Cook approached the council with his June survey results showing a need for the system at wide intersections as well as audio instructions at the crossing.

"The payback obviously is in the benefit for the community," Cook said.

The new system would empower slower walkers and give people a choice about how they crossed the road, he said.

It would increase accessibility for the elderly who did not venture outside their neighbourhoods. The previous physical and psychological toll of crossing the street turned the elderly off leaving their neighbourhoods, he said. The initiative could hopefully inspire elderly people to get out and lead more activie lifestyles.

The system was designed by Cook and Fivepower Systems director Brian Ward. The first crossing has been installed at the intersection of Queens Drive and St Andrew St.

Council community services chairman Lindsay Abbott said Queens Drive had always been a problem for elderly and disabled pedestrians.

"If it works, we will implement that in other places around the city," he said. A counter would monitor the use of the crossing.

Two more were planned for Gala St/Queens Drive and Leven St. In time, reduced times for crossing would be introduced to improve traffic flow, Cook said.

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- The Southland Times

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