Disappointing stance on Franklin Rd Christmas lights
Residents of Franklin Rd may not get everything on their Christmas wishlists, with a temporary 30kmph speed limit for this year’s festive light display looking unlikely.
Thousands of onlookers flock to the Freemans Bay street’s elaborately lit and decorated homes during the annual light display in December.
Some residents, including longtime Franklin Rd stalwart Hamish Keith, are lobbying for a traffic management plan to be implemented to slow traffic and ensure visitors’ safety from December 1 to 24.
‘‘It’s an event for children and we would like to see a safety traffic plan put in place to make sure it remains a safe event for the hundreds of thousands who visit the street.
‘‘We shouldn’t be waiting for someone to get hurt before doing something.’’
Resident Roscoe Thorby, who has been the unofficial organiser of the lights since the early 1990s, says it is a ‘‘fabulous idea’’.
Auckland Transport monitors vehicle and pedestrian movements during the event but a traffic management plan has not been implemented in the past.
It could consider approving a management plan, including a temporary 30kmph speed limit during the evenings, but the cost would need to be met by the applicant, regional road safety Andrew Bell says.
‘‘The increased evening pedestrian and vehicle visitor numbers viewing the Franklin Rd Christmas Lights in December create an over-
adviser all slow-speed environment which greatly reduces serious crash-risk or injury,’’ he says.
Traffic management plans, including the option of a temporary speed limit, are required when events or activities occur that significantly alter the normal operating conditions of the road.
Franklin Rd has an average annual daily traffic volume of 12,000 vehicles per day, with most of this flow occurring during daylight hours.
The road is not a ‘‘high crash-risk location’’ during December, Mr Bell says.
‘‘non-injury’’ crashes have been recorded in December between 2008 and 2012 during daylight hours.
The typical operating conditions on Franklin Rd during December evenings does not specifically require a traffic management plan or a lower speed limit, he says.
‘‘If the residents still want it then they would need to fund it.’’
But Mr Keith says residents already put enough of their own time and money into the public event themselves.
‘‘Franklin Rd gifts the lights to the city and we don’t ask for anything in return. It would be nice if the council recognised that.’’
Traffic-stopper: Franklin Rd Christmas light display unofficial organiser Roscoe Thorby supports the idea of a temporary 30kmh speed limit during the December event.