The Dunedin City Council is being praised for putting the
safety of children ahead of tight budgets, after it committed
to upgrading an existing pedestrian crossing near Kaikorai
Primary School in Highgate.
The council yesterday confirmed it would spend $103,700
adding traffic signals to an existing pedestrian crossing on
Highgate, between Selkirk and Fifield Sts, over the next
The work was expected to begin on July 7 and be completed by
August 11, allowing pupils and parents to cross safely at the
push of a button, council senior traffic engineer Ron Minnema
The investment was welcomed yesterday by Kaikorai Primary
School principal Simon Clarke, who said he was ''absolutely
delighted'' safety was to be improved.
Parents volunteering to operate the crossing during morning
and afternoon school runs had been involved in ''many
near-misses'' when stepping out to stop traffic, he said.
Some motorists either did not see, or chose to ignore, the
volunteers - who were dressed in bright orange vests and
carrying road cones - which had made the crossing ''very
dangerous'', Mr Clarke said.
''Our parents who man that crossing have put their lives in
their hands at times.
"It's been an ongoing problem and we're absolutely delighted
to think the safety will improve in that area with
Mr Clarke had been among those pushing for signals to be
added to the crossing over the past 18 months and was pleased
the council had found room in tight budgets for the work.
''It's all budgets, but we're pleased finally that money
isn't going to get in the way of children's safety.''
Mr Minnema said council research had backed community
concerns, highlighting the risk to pedestrians, and those
supervising them, in the area.
''There have been a number of near-misses involving motorists
who are legally required to give way to people using the
pedestrian crossing, but have failed to do so.
''The continuous stream of traffic during these periods often
does not stop to allow people to cross safely.
"There are also often many small groups crossing separately,
disrupting traffic and causing driver frustration.''
The new signals would remain green, allowing traffic to pass,
unless a pedestrian activated them.
Those wanting to cross could experience delays of up to 40
seconds at busy times, he said.
He did not expect the new lights would add to congestion in
the area, but staff and police would monitor the new layout
and the timing of the lights.
Settings would be adjusted if needed.
Mr Clarke said the school's parent volunteers would continue
to operate the crossing and activate the signals only when
groups of children were ready to cross, to avoid ''everyone
stopping for one kid''.
''We'll take our part in it, as long as the community play
their part in this and actually stop when it goes red.
''Then everyone's going to be happy and safe, hopefully, and
still get to work on time.''