Dinsdale's dangerous stretch of road

DINSDALE'S DANGEROUS STRETCH: Whatawhata Rd is 1.7km and has seven bus stops, nine intersections and one pedestrian crossing.
DINSDALE'S DANGEROUS STRETCH: Whatawhata Rd is 1.7km and has seven bus stops, nine intersections and one pedestrian crossing.

A Hamilton man whose mother was mown down by a car on Whatawhata Rd is calling for improved road safety in the area following two pedestrian crashes there in the past four months - including one fatal.

Ron Silk's 87-year-old mother, Eileen, was bowled over by a car on the road in December and he says she is "lucky to be here".

Mrs Silk is one of three people to be seriously injured or killed on the road since February 2012.

She spent close to three months in hospital after the crash, lost a little toe and required skin grafts, Mr Silk said.

On March 6 this year, Dinsdale resident Sharyn Sunman was killed a little further down the road after she was hit by a Hamilton-bound sedan.

The two incidents have caused Mr Silk, a Dinsdale resident, to speak out about the lack of safe places to cross the road.

"I think, on that road, either bring the speed limit down, or put in another crossing," Mr Silk said.

He said Whatawhata Rd's only marked crossing - where his mother was struck - was inadequate.

It was too close to the roundabout and vegetation obscured the view, he said.

"That crossing is the last crossing before Raglan. There's only courtesy crossings and they are absolutely useless."

"I drive down Whatawhata Rd at school time and there is kids negotiating traffic and there is nothing around."

Hamilton pedestrian advocate group, Living Streets Hamilton, has also called for improvements.

Co-ordinator Judy McDonald said it would be helpful if another designated crossing zone was installed on Whatawhata Rd.

"It's a large residential area out there and there is the usual problem with kids trying to get to school, people trying to get to work and there are very busy periods of the day."

New Zealand Transport Authority principal safety engineer Michelle Te Wharau said, given the recent fatality, it would investigate to see if safety improvements were required.

But Dinsdale resident and Hamilton Residents and Ratepayers Association vice president Mischele Rhodes believed the onus was on the motorist.

"I think it's just down to driver responsibility and driver education . . . most people drive to the law. You're always going to get boy racers, though, and they don't care what speed limit anything is."

Mrs Rhodes said lowering the speed limit would only cause a bottleneck for traffic coming off the roundabout onto Whatawhata Rd.

Dinsdale Rd resident and ex-policeman Denis Corcoran believed traffic did need to slow down. He would like to see a pedestrian crossing installed near the bus stop at the intersection with Poaka Ave, as he found crossing there "quite hazardous".

"We use [Whatawhata] road often and catch the bus to go [into town] . . . crossing the road is quite hazardous.

"All the traffic coming in from Raglan is the main thing, they're in a hurry to get to work."

Eddie and Heather Makin have lived on Whatawhata Rd for 35 years, and said it was either young drivers or bus drivers that were most erratic.

Mrs Makin said most people slowed down by the shopping centre, but by the time they reached Caernarvon St people "put their foot down".

Te Pahu resident Blair McAlister said lowering the speed limit wouldn't solve anything.

"They need to make that pedestrian crossing more visible. Maybe it needs to be highlighted better, and get rid of some of the vegetation around it."

Ms McDonald said pedestrian crossings close to roundabouts were hazardous, and the one on Whatawhata Rd was particularly busy and distracting.

"In a way it would be nice to see that crossing moved down a bit further."

She said all Hamilton's busy roads needed pedestrian light controlled crossings or raised bed crossings, at least. harry.pearl@waikatotimes.co.nz

Waikato Times