Running the gauntlet
Crossing ‘accident waiting to happen’
A Wellington father is demanding answers after his 11-year-old son was knocked down by a car on a pedestrian crossing that the city council knew to be dangerous.
The crossing, in the suburb of Kilbirnie, is not far from where a pedestrian was fatally struck by a vehicle a year ago – in a part of the capital that has come under fire for the safety of its streets.
Nearby schools say the area is an ‘‘accident waiting to happen’’.
Jeff Weir said he rushed to the crossing in Rongotai Rd on Monday to help his son, Miguel Ferrer. His bike was mangled and his helmet cracked, but the boy himself was not injured.
Weir said he was angry after police told him the crossing, which is outside a Pak’NSave supermarket, had been flagged as a high-risk area for some time, but Wellington City Council had made no effort to change it.
Weir said yesterday that he had called the council the day after the accident but had still not received any response.
‘‘It seems like the council needs a fatality before anything is progressed.’’
Wellington City councillor Chris Calvi-Freeman said safety concerns had been raised with him about the Rongotai Rd crossing since he joined the council in October.
He had asked staff to look at it urgently. ‘‘It will be a matter of weeks, not months. Officers need to do a proper evaluation to figure out what the best solution is.’’
Calvi-Freeman, who holds the council’s transport strategy and operations portfolio, said traffic on Rongotai Rd was getting worse, with longer queues of vehicles during busy periods.
The danger lay in the left-hand lane often being backed up, while the right-hand lane flowed more freely as it turned into Evans Bay Parade. As a result, many drivers on the right failed to slow for the pedestrian crossing.
‘‘I have personal experience of that, as I slowed right down in that exact circumstance and was nearly rear-ended by a tradie in a white van. I’m lucky I did slow down as someone was crossing,’’ he said.
Council records show one other pedestrian has been hit on that crossing in the past five years. There was also a near-miss between a local schoolgirl and a bus in May 2016.
Neal Swindells, the rector of
"It seems like the council needs a fatality before anything is progressed." Jeff Weir, the father of crash victim Miguel Ferrer.
nearby St Patrick’s College, said the area needed more pedestrian signage, slower speed limits and a pedestrian crossing on Evans Bay Parade.
‘‘I’ve just come from out there right now as 800 boys leave the school and it’s not very adequate at all. We’ve told council, on and off, over three years about it.’’
Evans Bay Intermediate School board of trustees chairwoman Shelly Reet said the speed at which cars travelled down Evans Bay Parade was a concern.
‘‘We would like the council to review the road safety of the school,’’ she added.
‘‘You only have to hang about outside Evans Bay or St Pat’s at 3pm and you’ll see the body of students, the vehicles, the buses; it’s a hot spot and probably an accident waiting to happen.’’
In March 2016, mother-of-two Tahiran Bano, 41, died after being hit by a car as she tried to cross Cobham Drive, outside the ASB Sports Centre in Kilbirnie.
Her husband, Shafi Mohammed, later questioned why the council and New Zealand Transport Agency had done nothing since the fatal crash to improve the safety of pedestrians.
The council has said it is looking at possible road safety options, including a multimillion-dollar overbridge.
Miguel Ferrer, 11, was hit by a car while on a pedestrian crossing in Ronogtai Rd – inset – on Monday. The crash ruined his bike tyre.