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City Council keen to improve pedestrian safety

26 September 2006

A new form of advanced warning lights which will become operational on two Christchurch pedestrian crossings on 2 October will pave the way for improved pedestrian safety.

The Council is working with MWH New Zealand Limited and Land Transport New Zealand  to trial this pedestrian light warning system. Flashing warning lights have been installed on the Tuam Street crossing opposite the Civic Offices and in Hereford Street outside Community Trust House.

The lights are set in the road on the crossings and in the pavement either side of the crossing.  A pedestrian wanting to cross will trigger the warning lights by breaking a light beam between two bollards. This  will trigger the flashing lights which will continue while the pedestrian crosses, ending once they have left.

“The system has been successful in the US and Australia,’’ says Project Manager David Pinkney. “This is the first time it has been trialled in New Zealand and we are hoping it will greatly improve pedestrian safety.

“We have chosen these two areas to trial the new system as they are both high density foot traffic areas, especially in Tuam Street where the public have raised safety concerns,’’ says Mr Pinkney.

The crossing also had an east-west axis which meant at certain times of the year,  it was susceptible to sun strike, he says.

Hereford Street crossing had been chosen because of the high pedestrian flows from Cathedral Square through Westpac Lane and through the Axa Arcade to City Mall, says Mr Pinkney.

As part of the trial, MWH New Zealand will carry out before and after surveys for the Council. These will monitor whether the warning lights have changed the behaviour of both pedestrians and motorists at crossings and whether they have increased pedestrians’ feelings of safety.

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