No safe cross­ing

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

PLEASE be pa­tient.

That’s the mes­sage from a blind man who has been hit twice by cars and suf­fered tor­rents of abuse from driv­ers in a hurry to get through a pedes­trian cross­ing.

Dean Hamil­ton was hos­pi­talised with bruis­ing, gravel rash and a cut on his head af­ter the first col­li­sion on the pedes­trian cross­ing at the San­dring­ham shops in 2012.

He’s been hit twice while try­ing to cross out­side the San­dring­ham Liquor Cen­tre in the last 18 months and has also had his fair share of fright­en­ing near misses.

‘‘I’ve been abused be­cause I’m tak­ing so long to go across,’’ he says.

‘‘It’s usu­ally in the morn­ings when people are in a hurry. If you see some­one wait­ing at a cross­ing, then stop and just wait.

‘‘It’s not only me. Kids won’t wait to cross, they’ll just walk out.’’

Mr Hamil­ton’s vi­sion has de­te­ri­o­rated over 15 years be­cause of his di­a­betes.

He makes the trip from his Eus­ton Rd home to the shops daily for break­fast so he doesn’t have to pre­pare it at home.

There is a sec­ond cross­ing nearby at 515 San­dring­ham Rd which is also prov­ing to be a prob­lem, he says.

Tex­tured pav­ing tells Mr Hamil­ton when he is at the edge of the cross­ing. He lis­tens to know when the traf­fic has stopped and it is safe to cross.

‘‘Be­cause it takes a bit of time for me to de­cide if the traf­fic has stopped, driv­ers get frus­trated and pro­ceed any­way.’’

Mr Hamil­ton has a carer for two hours a day but was alone when he was hit.

The carer some­times walks with him and has oc­ca­sion­ally had to pull him back off the road at the last minute to save him from be­ing knocked over, he says.

Get­ting the con­fi­dence to leave the house has been an ef­fort and he gen­er­ally stayed in­side be­fore get­ting in­ten­sive help from the Blind Foun­da­tion.

‘‘Rather than ask for help I would stay at home or go with­out.’’

Mod­i­fi­ca­tions made to one of the cross­ings by Auck­land Trans­port have made him feel safer and there are now bar­ri­ers pro­tect­ing pedes­tri­ans wait­ing in the mid­dle of the road.

Auck­land Trans­port is not aware of any other in­ci­dents of pedes­tri­ans be­ing in­jured on the stretch of road in the last two years, a spokesman says – but the bar­ri­ers put up on the pedes­trian refuge have been dam­aged by cars.

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