Flash idea for pedestrian crossings

BFW Innovations business partners Grant Woolford (left) and Vicky Steel, with Larry Burns and the crossing sensor he has invented. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
BFW Innovations business partners Grant Woolford (left) and Vicky Steel, with Larry Burns and the crossing sensor he has invented. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
Why did Dunedin inventor Larry Burns cross the road? To secure a safer outcome for those using pedestrian crossings.

When Mr Burns saw a child hit on a pedestrian crossing in Kaikorai Valley last year, his ever-thinking brain went into overdrive.

By the time he left the scene, he knew he had to do something about preventing similar mishaps and had already come up with a possible solution.

From tomorrow, his latest invention will go on a Dunedin City Council-instigated trial outside Tahuna Normal Intermediate School.

A patent was pending for the pole-mounted solar-powered sensor that was triggered when people walked on to a crossing, alerting oncoming traffic to their presence with a flashing light.

Mr Burns, who has a knack for coming up with inventions to fix problems, said the solution to what was a massive social cost for the country was simple. He was thrilled to see the council on board.

The task of making it all work went to Grant Woolford, from BFW Innovations.

While there were other systems available, they tended to ''cost an arm and a leg'', often requiring roads to be dug up and power installed, Mr Woolford said.

Mr Burns' invention could simply be clipped to any sort of pole and ran on a solar battery so there was no wiring. All the components were made in New Zealand.

In the past, Mr Burns has tackled everything from flooding solutions, designing a water stop gate which fitted in doorways to keep water out, to a mattress elevator.

People, he believed, had got ''way too complicated'' with the technology that was now available, instead of looking at ''simple stuff that actually works''.

His target was to provide the technology for crossings outside the thousands of schools throughout New Zealand and Australia, while railway crossings without warning lights were also being looked at.

''The rest of the world would be great but we couldn't handle it,'' he said.

Enterprise Dunedin business relationship manager Des Adamson described it as a ''damn good idea''.

''He [Mr Burns] gets the concept straight away. He's looking for something that will snap a person's mindset while driving,'' he said.

Mr Adamson put Mr Burns in touch with the council's roading division, saying it was well worth having a trial.

What happened from there would depend on how that went and what sort of feedback there was.

Comments

Definitely worth a shot, as i see heaps of cars ignore or not see pedestrians waiting at crossings.