Crossing doesn’t cut it

Students who use the Victoria St crossing every day would like to see the crossing changed so that pedestrians have the right of way on both sides of the street. Pictured from left is Robson Reidroe, Will James, Finn James, Liv James, Jude Bower and Eddie Wilkinson.

With Cambridge’s student numbers continuing to grow some parents have become increasingly concerned over the effectiveness of a crossing on Victoria Street.

The crossing near the intersection with Williams Street became Cambridge’s second-ever set of traffic lights when it was installed by Waipa District Council in 2016 at a price tag of $120,000.

But to some Cambridge parents the crossing remains incomplete.

“They haven’t finished the job really,” said Jude Bower, whose son Eddie uses the crossing twice daily on his school commute.

“My son has nearly been knocked off his scooter, another student was knocked off their bike by a car in recent weeks, and that kind of escalated it for me.

“When I spoke to council they said, if I really want my son to be safe maybe I should walk him to school, but he’s ten, not five.”

Eddie rolls his eyes at the embarrassing thought of having his mum walk him to school, and says he’d much rather have a safer crossing.

Jude was one of the many parents that originally advocated for a crossing at the location – considered to be the ‘student highway’ of Cambridge with students from three different schools frequenting the route by foot, bike or scooter.

The busier, western side of the street uses traffic lights to stop cars with the push of a button. But the other side of the crossing, on the eastern side of the road median, does not have traffic lights. Instead the road is raised, like a speed bump, and painted red with white zigzag lines on either side.

“The white lines could make it look, to some, like pedestrians have the right of way,” said Anna James, another mum whose children use the crossing each day. “I think at the very least we should have a zebra crossing, or otherwise have the lights-crossing carry on through to the other side.”

“I don’t think anybody knows what the red road means anyway,” added Jude.

Waipa District Council’s reasoning for not having a give-way pedestrian crossing on the other side of the street was because there is a lot less traffic on that side, a spokesperson explained, and traffic must give way at Williams Street too. “This creates a slower speed area which means a pedestrian crossing was not required.

“There is a similar raised red ‘crossing area’ on Whittaker St, and at the south end of Victoria Street East by the kindergarten as well. These are becoming common on low speed, low volume roads and are an extra reminder for both drivers and pedestrians to take more care.”

The red-painted road is known as a speed table, designed to signal drivers to slow down. “It helps create awareness that there may be pedestrians around, and to be extra mindful.”

The red crossing is not a formal pedestrian crossing, and cars have right of way.

But for a number of parents in the area, it’s just not enough.

“Even for me it’s quite confusing, you’ve got to look in so many different directions before you cross, and then when you think you’re clear another car comes around and they’re there before you know it,” said Anna.

“I think at the very least we should have a zebra crossing, or otherwise have the lights crossing carry on through.”

Cambridge East student Robson Reidroe was in full support of extending the traffic light crossing to the other side of the street.

“It might not be a main street but they should still have traffic lights there,” he said.

Jude believes the best solution is to block off the Williams St entrance to the eastern side of Victoria Street, with access via the Princes Street end instead, so that the red crossing is essentially located at a dead end, with no traffic passing through at all. But alternatively, she says, she’d be rapt with a proper pedestrian crossing instead.

Waipa District Council says it has followed NZTA protocol installing the raised red crossing.

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