Shared zone open
A penny farthing was first, followed by a tricycle, a motorbike and Hamilton City councillor Daphne Bell on a bike.
Then came the cars, and the first signs of confusion, as Garden Place was opened for the first time to traffic.
From noon yesterday the red ribbon was cut to the Worley Place shared zone connecting Worley Place to Alexandra St.
Pedestrians will now share a section of the paved public space with cars, motorbikes and bicycles.
" I just don't know, I am confused already, do I stop for the cars or is it the other way around?" pedestrian David Thornton asked.
Two-way traffic will be allowed to travel slowly – 20 kilometres per hour – through the space.
Adding to yesterday's head-scratching was the inclusion of stainless steel planter boxes filled with flowering plants and long wooden park benches along both sides of the zone.
"I just wonder how long it will take for a car to hit one of those giant flower pots," said Lisa Smythe, who said she would wait a few days to drive through the shared zone.
"It seems a bit crowded with big bits of furniture at the moment, like they just opened up a lane of traffic in a Warehouse store or something."
But the shared zone had some fans.
"I am not sure it is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but it is a very important step in getting more traffic flow through the area," said Robert Harris Coffee cafe owner Curt Christiansen.
Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind spokesman Chris Orr said while the shared zone concept was "wonderful" there were some concerns.
"When you open up a pedestrian area like this the car very quickly becomes king," he said. "People will start giving way to the cars, others won't and vision-impaired people, especially, will not always be able to see the cars."
City Infrastructure general manager Chris Allen said the shared zone was designed to be a safe environment where pedestrians had priority over vehicles, but the council would closely monitor the area.
- Waikato Times
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