Streets for People initiative sparks debate

Spots on the road, orange sticks, brightly coloured planter boxes and chess-boards in blue and pink are features of the Streets for People project.

Waipā District Council’s ambitious Streets for People project has hit a couple of speed bumps.

The Streets for People project will see more than 25 temporary changes made to streets around Cambridge in an effort to make them safer. Around 15 temporary changes – including painted dots on the road and speed cushions – have already been installed.

They are the subject of a social media debate, a new petition, and the town’s community board has concerns about a one-way plan.

But the brickbats were not unexpected – the council indicated from the outset the project involved trialling changes to see how they worked.

A Cambridge woman who contacted the News to say she had launched a petition says there are “serious concerns about the work being done”.

She plans to distribute a petition to retailers tomorrow calling for orange road sticks to be removed.

Social media debate about the project has featured many posts applauding the changes and others sarcastically ridiculing the project.

Waipā District Council group manager Dawn Inglis says all feedback is good feedback “and helps us to see which of the temporary changes are working well and which might not be”.

Contractors will begin installing a pop-up cycleway on Wilson and Duke streets and a one-way access on upper Duke Street where it meets Bryce Street this week.

Cambridge Community Board chair Sue Milner, raised already raised concerns about that.

“Our emergency services use the Duke St route to bypass a very, very busy Victoria Street as they make their way to Hamilton Road, and also to our large Retirement Village rest homes. An urgent rethink is needed on this proposal, our fire brigade and ambulance services should not be delayed because they are negotiating traffic in a very busy Victoria St,” she wrote.

She backs the project and wrote she hoped the Cambridge Community would make the best of it  “and we will all see the intended benefits”.

When the project was unveiled, spokesperson Sarah Ulmer said the idea was to trial the temporary changes in real time to see which were effective and which weren’t.

She said the community had said through the Safe Ways to School survey in 2018 they wanted their children to be able to walk, bike or scoot to school – if the roads they travelled on were safer.

“We would love all our Cambridge residents to get involved with this project so that together, we can make our streets better spaces for all road users.”

The Streets for People programme features colourful giant spots, road bumps and trees in planter boxes as well as cones appearing on the streets near schools.

The changes will remain in place until the end of June, depending on community feedback.

For more information go to www.streetsforpeople.nz.

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