Council signals traffic changes

Dunedin's transport future could include the reintroduction of Barnes dance pedestrian crossings and a vehicle-free Octagon and George St.

The ideas were covered in a long list of changes to the Dunedin City Council's draft transport strategy agreed by the hearings subcommittee yesterday after two days of public submissions.

That meant the council would include investigations of Barnes dance crossings and vehicle bans in future planning.

That could lead to the changes being trialled, although exactly when, where and at what cost would be considered at a later date, councillors decided.

The public would also get to comment on any changes coming out of the strategy, Cr Kate Wilson indicated.

The draft strategy outlined planned improvements to the city's transport network over the next 30 years, primarily aimed at improving road safety, but including everything from cycleway improvements to an eastern freight bypass.

Some of the 64 submitters to the draft strategy had called for the council to reintroduce Barnes dance crossings and include pedestrian-only zones in the Octagon and George St.

Council transportation planning manager Sarah Connolly told the hearing yesterday earlier traffic modelling had shown Barnes dance crossings would cause small delays for motorists at intersections.

That meant councillors and the public would at some point have to decide if that was acceptable to improve pedestrian safety, she said.

Cr Jinty MacTavish said the need for change was clear, given the city's vulnerable population of young and ageing people, and significant rate of injury and death on the city's roads.

Councillor Andrew Noone asked for anyone who disagreed with the need to prioritise safety over small delays for motorists to say something, prompting silence around the table.

Cr Wilson later said changes would be about improving everyone's safety - including motorists.

Council staff said the document would also emphasis the strategic importance of roads to Dunedin International Airport and Port Otago, although many of the concerns raised by the Chamber of Commerce were already addressed in the full strategy document.

Councillors spent much of yesterday afternoon working their way through the list of submissions, agreeing to changes to the wording of the draft in places to accommodate public concerns.

The changes would be finalised when the subcommittee meets again on Monday afternoon, before the strategy was sent to the last full council meeting of the term, on September 23, for final approval by councillors.



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