Petition for campus crossing gathers growing support
Pedestrians are risking their lives trying to get into the Ruakura Campus and Innovation Park each day, according to petitioners for a safe crossing.
The online petition for pedestrian provisions on Ruakura Rd has gathered about 470 signatures in two months, including those from family and friends of a boy who died following a road accident in the area.
In 2011, 13-year-old Hamilton schoolboy Shaun Malthus died from injuries after he was hit by a car on Ruakura Rd near the Innovation Park on his way to school.
Hamilton City Council will hear the community's safety suggestions on Wednesday when petition organiser Claire Dowsett of AgResearch presents her submission at the hearing for the draft annual plan.
Trying a new method of getting to work brought the reality of the road home to her.
"I recently bought a house in Silverdale thinking that I could quite nicely ride my bike with my toddler on the back to work every morning. And that didn't work out," Dowsett said.
About three tries were enough to put her off permanently.
"People have been complaining about it [the access] for years. I guess it just took me to be in that situation to realise what a serious issue it was, or is," she said.
"On the side the campus is on there's a big ditch and a very narrow cycle lane. And that is all. And basically the road is very busy and to cross from the footpath on the other side of the road is really dangerous."
Hundreds of people worked and studied on the campus so a safe place to cross was urgently needed, she said.
The official main gate to the park was off Bisley Rd but Dowsett said the Ruakura Rd entrance was "arguably the most popular and the most dangerous entrance".
"The traffic on Ruakura Rd is terrible. It's gridlock on peak time but it's busy throughout the entire day," she said.
"We risk our lives every day trying to access this gate."
And petition signatories commented with stories of grief or dangerous situations.
"I live on Ruakura Campus and we have already lost one family member crossing this road. Our teenagers continue to risk their lives daily trying to get to school. I would love to be able to cross the road to walk the dog," Margo Malthus said.
Driver Tim Hale said he watched pedestrians "risking themselves" every day crossing Ruakura Rd and he found the intersection dangerous for traffic too.
A crossing was "so needed," Cindy Calitz said.
"I cross this road every day, and say a prayer every day."
Safety concerns had also been raised by AgResearch site manager Mike King and pedestrian advocacy group Living Streets Hamilton, Dowsett said.
It had long been on the radar for Living Streets Hamilton, Judy McDonald said.
"This is the main access route from the CBD to our major research institutions and the university. And if there's one area that should have safe cycling and walking, one would hope it would be that one," she said.
"At the very least, getting that crossing in allows people to walk along the southern side then cross safely over to the Ruakura campus . . . Really the only safe option is a light-controlled crossing - a push-button one," she said.
The petition is at ipetitions.com/petition/safe-pedestrian-access-into-the-ruakura-campus.