'Are you mad?': Councillor slams choice to keep CBD dots

Brightly painted dots appeared on George St in May to highlight that it is a shared space. PHOTO:...
Brightly painted dots appeared on George St in May to highlight that it is a shared space. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
The 10kmh speed limit in George St will go; the coloured dots will — temporarily — stay; and free parking will remain in the city centre until the end of the month.

Dunedin City Council voted to end its ‘‘Safer CBD’’ Covid-19 response ‘‘as soon as is practicable’’ in a 14-1 vote this afternoon.

Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins said the cost of the programme — subsidised by the NZ Transport Agency to a tune of 90% — had been ‘‘a small price to pay’’ for the precautionary measures.

‘‘It hasn’t been a huge commitment that we made that proved to be unnecessary,’’ he said.

The ‘‘visceral’’ response the council’s measures had evoked among city residents though had been ‘‘disappointing and a little embarrassing at times’’.

The measures were taken after a May 15 vote in an attempt to draw people back into the city centre after lockdown -- and they soon after proved to be controversial.

Carmen Houlahan
Cr Carmen Houlahan
Cr Jules Radich said the measures had been greeted by ‘‘derision’’ from the community.

Cr Carmen Houlahan — the lone dissenting vote today — said she was voting against the proposal not because she was opposed to moving the speed limit in George St from 10kmh back up to 30kmh — but because she had ‘‘serious, serious concerns about leaving the dots in the road’’.

‘‘Are you mad?’’ she said.

‘‘People will think if the dots are there that it will be safe to walk out there.

‘‘People will still walk out on that street.

‘‘It still looks like it was a safe street.’’

The tactics at the May council meeting when colleagues approved the measures amounted to ‘‘emotional blackmail’’ as councillors were told lives could be put at risk if they did not vote for the ‘‘Safer CBD’’ measures.

However, council chief executive Sue Bidrose said it took council staff about a week to 10 days after the measures were implemented to determine there was ‘‘no desire’’ for footpath users to adhere to social distancing recommendations while shopping downtown.

Council infrastructure services general manager Simon Drew said the council had not received confirmation in writing yet, but he understood the 90% funding for the programme from the NZ Transport Agency extended to the calming measures’ removal as well.

To date, $25,000 of the approved $40,000 budget had been spent.

He said in the past, under a 30kmh limit, the average speed in the road had been 28kmh and with the 10kmh limit and the coloured dots, that average had dropped to 22kmh.



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Yes Cr. Houlahan, quite mad.

I hate to burst Houlahan's bubble (no pun intended), the only confusion is on the part of the DCC that they are a legitimate body representing the people of Dunedin! People aren't going to walk into the street to take refugee in one of these idiotic dots. They didn't do when we were supposed to be social distancing and they arent going to do it now that we are in level 1. There isn't a single person in Dunedin who looks to you, the mayor or the council for a lick of common sense. Leave the dots there until the next election so the voters are reminded to vote all of you out of office!

‘‘Are you mad?’’
Yes, they are !!!
Arrogant, elitist, holier than tho, virtue signalling, manipulating.... mad.

Nothing this council does any more, surprises me! They seem determined to leap from one fiasco to another without any shame or guilt.
I wouldn't bat an eyelid to wake up one morning and note the council had planted grass seeds on our main street, and boarded up every shop!

It's funny you should say that, Snozzman - about planting grass in the main street - because the DCC lunatics recently approved the next phase of their Central City Plan and that's exactly what will be happening in George Street (if we let them). The plan is to put garden plots in the exact center of the road. This is where a major water pipe is, and it looks like this pipe will need to be removed, which will downgrade the water supply capacity for the area. We hope that the ODT will keep us updated on these things.

The dots are a distraction when driving. I find I'm more focused on the dots, thinking a pedestrians walking out on the street.
Totally agree with Carmen.

I really liked the dots. Personally I think the road should be paved and made into a shared space with a 10 to 20km speed limit. It would be great to get the CBD on a par with some towns like Wellington and Napier. There is a lot to be desired in the conservative approach to town planning which has shadowed this city and it is refreshing to have a great leader bring a bit of the 21st century into town.

I agree with you George that the CDB needs dragging into the 21st Century but the blue dots didn't help the council make the case, it just made them look ridiculous. But they've been having a good run at ridiculous of late.....maybe they should try Plan D. (Satire).

At last, someone who likes the dots! Let's have more of them. Not just dots and not just in George Street - what about Easther Crescent, Cannongate, Bayfield Signal Hill & Opoho Roads and all round the stadium? So many undecorated streets, so many shapes and line drawings, let's go wild and show the world just how "D" Dunedin can be with diamonds, dodecahedrons, donuts, dinosaurs, Doris Day and, in preparation for when we co-bubble with Australia, dingoes.

It seems that the council have a strong desire to modernise and humanise the inner CBD but without the large amount of funds needed and the highly conservative old guard this is nigh on impossible. This leaves them doing desperate things with their pocket money. I recognise their cheeky efforts as an attempt to be playful and give the population a taste for something better. If something is innovative it is polarising and I am glad to see the old guard being so groundbreakingly shuddered by a few dots. It reveals just how much of challenge it will be to do anything truly '21st century' in this town. I applaud any effort to do something cheeky and shake things up. 'If the wall stays grey the mind will follow'

I respect your views there George, however, Dunedinites are just that...'Dunedinites'. That is what makes Dunedin 'different'. It's not Napier, nor Wellington or Auckland. it chooses not to be overtly modernised, the heart of the people are quite reserved and guarded of their Dunedin. There will come a time, when outsiders and newer generations will come to appreciate and celebrate the very difference that makes this city a champion of New Zealand cities. I would urge the DCC to nurture our difference and stop wasting money on 'experiments'. Just fix the roads, collect the rubbish, sweep the gutters, mow the berms and replace the power poles. If you are not careful......Dunedin, as we all know and love, wil be a memory. I say this as an outsider. I came here 10 years ago for the very charm and traditional essence that has been lost in most other towns and cities in New Zealand. Visitors love the place, it's good old Kiwi look and feel. If you want blue dots on your roads......move to Wellington, you want overt modernisation, move to Auckland or Christchurch..... but please, leave Dunedin alone, don't rip it's soul out with embarrassing experiments. We're DUNEDIN!!

I would willingly keep the dots if I thought it would result in the resignation of the Mayor and his closest allies. Yes Council is mad and is getting worse by the day. The people of Dunedin need to act now to remove these people before they move from clownish to dangerous. Local government in Dunedin is pluming new depths in stupidity.

Could somebody get Houlahan some more crayons please. She actually thinks people listen to what the council has to say? Houlahan, continue to do what you do best, color and waste our money. None of us need you and your cast of cronies looking after our safety and well-being. How many days until the next election?

Simon Drew points out that the 10km/h speed limit isn't working by admitting that the average speed is more than double the speed limit. Why has the council not demanded that the police crack down on all the hoons who are flagrantly breaking the law? Such reckless law breaking could kill someone who is innocently crossing the road and expecting traffic to be at half that speed .

One word can sum up this entire fiasco, embarrassing. And how arrogant of our Mayor to describe the reaction from ratepayers, having awoken one morning to find their main street had been turned into a giant version of tiddlywinks, as embarrassing. Just goes to show how out of tough they are are with the average citizen.

Honestly, you could pluck 15 random people off the street, plonk them into the DCC Chambers, and they'd do a better job.

"Mad". Still the most stigmatising insult in NZ.

Unless you're a butcher.

Dunedin City Council, you are embarrassing us all.

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