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A council spokesman yesterday said the Barnes Dance phasing experiment lasted only a few days. Feedback from business owners — received by Enterprise Dunedin staff as they visited businesses — was that the increased pedestrian crossing phasing had the opposite effect from what was intended and the measure was pulled on Tuesday.
The change to the pedestrian crossings "actually created a longer than anticipated tail-back of vehicles and made it harder, not easier, for pedestrians to use the shared space," he said.
But the AA yesterday urged the council to "listen to its people and reverse the ill-conceived changes it has made on George St".
AA Otago district chairman Malcolm Budd said the association was "one of many" groups to tell the council that the changes enacted last week — including lowering the speed limit in George St to 10kmh to promote physical distancing under Covid-19 Alert Level 2, the installation of temporary speed bumps, and increasing the frequency of Barnes Dance crossings — were "a bad idea, but none of us were listened to beforehand".
Mr Budd said the council needed to "show some common sense".
The feedback from the AA’s membership had been " overwhelmingly negative"and the changes were commonly described as "ludicrous", "ridiculous" and "stupid"; they had increased the risks to pedestrians, and showed the council "see themselves as knowing ‘better’ than the people they are supposed to represent".
"Now we are seeing the reality hit, and it is exactly what people warned the council would happen: people struggling to travel at the extremely low limit, more congestion, and nearly everyone saying the changes have made the area worse rather than better," Mr Budd said.
This week, from a personal account, council chief executive Sue Bidrose tweeted, then deleted, her take on the city’s reaction to the changes.
"The PM [Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern] shuts down the whole country and stops commerce to keep people safe from virus. 91% of people support," she wrote.
"Council makes it 2 mins longer to drive down George St to keep people safe from the virus. The city looses (sic) its shit."