Road cones a symbol of recovery

The humble road cone has gone from being a traffic management device to a symbol of Canterbury's disaster and its recovery.

More than 50,000 orange road cones line Christchurch's streets and sit in potholes - and these are just the ones owned by Scirt contractors.

Christchurch residents will be pleased to know that the number of road cones has dropped by half since early 2012, when 100,000 were deployed.

But even now, they are six times more numerous in Christchurch than in 2011, as contractors deal with multiple work sites, extensive road and lane closures, and damaged buildings posing a threat to traffic.

While Scirt has a 50,000-strong stock, thousands more are owned by subcontractors, traffic-management companies and even sports teams. City Care alone owns 14,000 - more than triple its stock before the quake.

Road cone manufacturer RTL makes many of the cones supplied to Canterbury contractors. A spokesman said the most popular cone used here was almost a metre tall and weighed more than four kilograms.

Despite their size and cumbersome shape, road cones are often the focus of mischief.

Bright, reflective and abundant, more than 5000 Scirt road cones are lost each year to magpies keen to have their own bit of traffic management history. City Care loses about 1000 every year.

Some are taken home to the flat, while others end up in the river or perched atop lamposts.

The average life of a road cone, depending on its luck, durability and location, is between one and five years.

RTL road cones are the real deal. They aren't dipped in colour - they're orange Virgin PVC through and through. Some are even recycled after they're fatally damaged.

RTL was already reporting that road cone sales had dipped below their pre-quake level - perhaps a sign of progress in a battle-weary city?

The Press