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The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE -

The pedes­trian cross­ing that links the hospi­tal to the shops on Ruahine Street has now gone dig­i­tal. The de­ci­sion to in­ves­ti­gate and up­grade the cross­ing came about as the re­sult of pedes­trian and rear end crashes at the cross­ing.

Glenn Con­nelly, Palmer­ston North City Coun­cil's Se­nior Trans­porta­tion Engi­neer said Ruahine Street is an in­her­ently busy road. “It is a mi­nor ar­te­rial car­ry­ing be­tween 15,500 and 18,000 ve­hi­cles per day. Users of the cross­ing have vary­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties; in­clud­ing pa­tients and vis­i­tors to the hospi­tal as well as stu­dents from Ross In­ter­me­di­ate and Frey­berg High School.” As a re­sult the dig­i­tal sig­nals were se­lected as the safest and pre­ferred treat­ment for the cross­ing. The sig­nals have the ex­tra ben­e­fit of giv­ing ad­vance warn­ing to queued traf­fic that cars would be stop­ping ahead. While driv­ers can't see pedes­tri­ans when ap­proach­ing the cross­ing in a stream of traf­fic the traf­fic, sig­nals can be seen for over 300 me­tres.

“To in­crease pedes­trian safety, video de­tec­tion sen­sors have been in­stalled, which al­lows dy­namic con­trol of the sig­nals. This sys­tem is a first in Palmer­ston North,” Glenn said. “The pedes­trian sen­sors have pre­de­fined de­tec­tion zones which are su­per­im­posed on the video im­age and pedes­tri­ans are recog­nised as soon as they en­ter the vicin­ity.”

To use the cross­ing pedes­tri­ans need to stand in the sen­sor zone which is in­di­cated by yel­low tac­tile tiles on the foot­path. This means pedes­tri­ans no longer need to push the but­ton. A pedes­trian can just stand on the tiles and the cross­ing phase will be called. Cam­eras ‘watch' peo­ple as they cross the road and if they walk quickly the cross­ing time on the sig­nals is re­duced and cars can move off sooner, but if there is a big group or a pedes­trian walk­ing slowly the pedes­trian phase will be ex­tended to al­low safe pas­sage. The sig­nals also look for a gap in the stream of ap­proach­ing cars if prac­ti­cal to avoid driv­ers need­ing to stop quickly. The pram cross­ings have been im­proved with the grade of the kerb ramps cor­rected to pro­vide bet­ter ac­cess for wheeled pedes­tri­ans, such as prams, wheel­chairs and mo­bil­ity scoot­ers. The same type of sen­sors will be in­stalled on Fitzher­bert Av­enue at the Palmer­ston North Girls' High School cross­ing to re­place the ex­ist­ing sen­sors and im­prove the op­er­a­tion and safety.

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