New Golden Mile ad hoardings won't be a safety hazard, says Wellington council

One of three new digital advertising boards in Wellington's Lambton Quay. In 2015, a coroner raised fears about such ...

One of three new digital advertising boards in Wellington's Lambton Quay. In 2015, a coroner raised fears about such hoardings obscuring pedestrians' views of traffic.

Three new digital advertising boards have been put up on Lambton Quay, despite a coroner raising fears two years ago about the safety risk of such signs cluttering Wellington's Golden Mile.

Coroner Garry Evans called for a review of safety along the busy stretch of road between Lambton Quay and Courtenay Place, which at the time had the highest rate of pedestrian-vehicle accidents in the country.

Since Wellington City Council rerouted buses through Manners St in 2010, more than a dozen pedestrians have been hit by buses in and around the route.

Evans' safety call was made as a result of his inquest into the death in 2011 of Wellington woman Venessa Ann Green, who died after crossing Willis St in front of a bus.

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He said the area where she tried to cross was crowded with objects, including a sign that could have obscured her view of traffic.  

Wellington City Council said the three new Adshel boards were an opportunity to display New Zealand art in the streets of Wellington. The sites chosen were those that would give the greatest chance for the public to see the works.

Spokeswoman Victoria Barton-Chapple said a safety audit of the Golden Mile was conducted in 2015, and the route was now safer. There were no pedestrian injuries in Lambton Quay last year. 

Pedestrian safety was taken into account for placement, size and content of the signs. "Pedestrian safety is always paramount in any decisions to place street furniture in public space." 

The safety audit followed a number of actions taken by the council after the introduction of the new Manners St bus route, she said. "This concluded the route is safer now than in earlier years.

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"On the Golden Mile there were three pedestrian injures in 2016 compared with eight in 2015. This compares with a historic average of 12 per year."

Safety measures included pedestrian protection around kerbside street furniture, and improved intersection signage and markings.

The council also sought to reduce pedestrian waiting time at traffic signals, install street furniture to discourage pedestrians crossing at particular locations, and organise education programmes to raise awareness of pedestrians.

Barton-Chapple said it had considered introducing barriers or a jay-walking ban on several occasions. 

Overall, it saw there were other "less drastic interventions" to keep pedestrians safe. "Banning jay-walking is impractical without a high level of enforcement."

There were no recent figures to compare the Golden Mile's pedestrian-vehicle accident rate to the rest of New Zealand, she said.

Wellington's worst-performing intersection was the state highway junction of Kent St and Vivian St. The intersection with the worst crash numbers on local streets was the intersection of Wakefield St and Taranaki St.

The worst-performing intersection on the Golden Mile was the intersection of Courtenay Pl and Tory St.

 - Stuff


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