Lazy Pokemon Go players put stopbanks at risk

The Mangaone Stream, near Pioneer Highway.
Warwick Smith

The Mangaone Stream, near Pioneer Highway.

Palmerston North's stopbanks could be at risk of being damaged by people playing Pokemon Go in their cars.

The Mangaone Stream stopbanks have enough room for vehicles to be driven on to them at certain sections and there are fears players of the game who are too lazy to get out of their vehicles may take advantage of the lack of barriers.

The stopbanks are designed to protect the city from flooding, and potential damage to them has been raised as an issue by Horizons Regional Council.

Pokemon Go creatures pop up in real world locations.

Pokemon Go creatures pop up in real world locations.

"Horizons is not immune to Pokemon," the council's river management group manager Ramon Strong said.

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Horizons engineering officer Jenna Buchanan told Stuff she had observed people in the vicinity of the banks and was wary of them venturing further.

Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game played by people using smartphones. Entrances to the stream's walking tracks often have Pokestops on them, spots where players can collect items to be used in the game.

The item about the game was included in Horizons' catchment operations committee agenda this month.

A staff report within the agenda stated that the popularity of the game brought forward the need for barriers to be installed at access points within the city where vehicular access was easy. 

So far there had been no major damage to the stopbanks.

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Buchanan said there were barriers at most sections that crossed with roads, but some were not guarded.

"In summer it doesn't normally matter, but it does matter in winter when it's wetter."

With more rainfall, and a higher risk of flooding, the stopbanks needed to be maintained.

"They are not built to be driven on continuously."

Buchanan said the popularity of the game seemed to be waning but, regardless, the council would look at adding barriers to the unguarded sections.

"If it carries on it might become a more urgent issue... it is climbing up the to-do list."

Buchanan said the council would be keeping an eye on the sections.

It is not the first case of Pokemon Go players turning up somewhere they were not welcome.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Arlington National Cemetery asked people to refrain from playing the game. In Australia, a police station asked users not to enter the station unnecessarily.

Back in Palmerston North, the Manawatu Golf Club urged people to stop staring at their phones, because they risked being hit by a stray ball.

Buchanan said fly-tipping was also an issue along the stream's stopbanks and an added reason to investigate barriers.

 - Stuff


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