News | 8 November 2023
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Lyall Bay street trial aims to make getting to school safer

A new street layout is being trialled over summer to see whether it makes the street outside quieter and safer for residents, and encourages more children to walk, bike or scoot to school.

People gather at launch of Lyall Bay street trial

As part of the Kilbirnie Connections project, trial changes to make the intersection of Freyberg Street and Wha Street safer to cross have been installed, along with a new blue pedestrian area that stretches from one side of Freyberg Street to the other near the Lyall Bay School entrance.

It’s still possible to drive in and out from each end of the block via Queens Drive and Wha Street and access all driveways. But as part of the trial, it is no longer possible to use the northern part of Freyberg Street as a through route. This should encourage safer speeds and make this very wide street more pleasant and safer to cross.

Students, staff and families joined Wellington City Council staff and contractors JFC on Saturday to celebrate and add some finishing touches.


Child plants in planter box at launch of Lyall Bay street trial

Children planted native plants and herbs in the new planter boxes that define the trial pedestrian area, and also helped with the street art. The large planter boxes were made locally by Tilley Group in Rongotai.


Shells, fish and sea creatures designed by some of the students have been painted and chalked on to the street and footpath using stencils. The designs are highlighting alternative walking routes to school. They will also complement a sea-themed mural that school caretaker and artist John Rauhihi is developing in the new pedestrian area.


As part of the changes, and in response to suggestions and concerns raised by the community, the zebra crossing on Queens Drive will be slightly raised in the near future. It is now being patrolled before and after school – improving safety on this side of the school too.


Principal Melanie Dean, who has been part of the working group set up to plan and progress the trial, says the school is hoping the changes will make it safer for more children to walk, scoot or bike some or all the way to school.


It’s an opportunity to experiment and experience alternative ways of using the street, and a practical way to test what kind of difference a change like this will have on the school community and our neighbours,” she says.


The project has also been providing valuable real-life learning opportunities for our children to help plan, install, try out, think and talk about street changes, as well as healthy, more sustainable transport options. 


“We’re looking forward to seeing how people adapt and find it.”

Child walks across blue painted road at launch of Lyall Bay street trial

Parents can still drive in and out of the street if they want to, but are being encouraged to consider some alternative areas where they can potentially drop or pick up their children, allowing them to walk, bike or scoot a short distance.


Over the first week or so, Council staff and senior students will be on hand before and after school to guide younger children as they get used to these new routes.


The changes will be in place for the remainder of the year, through the summer holidays and the first school term of 2024.


Vishal Gurudutt, who has lived in the street for eight years and has children aged 7 and 4, is very supportive of the changes. The changes mean his older child can now get the short distance between school and home independently using the footpath and safe crossing area.


He says as a through-route it was not unusual to have people in cars come “screaming down the road” on their way to the beach or other destinations.


It’s completely unnecessary, but they can be fast and loud, so the street is an obvious place to trial changes like this.”


With the help of the school, the Council will monitor a variety of things during the trial, including how children get to school and how they feel about it, as well as vehicle numbers and speeds. There will also be an opportunity for neighbours and the wider community to provide feedback during the first term of 2024 before any decisions are made on next steps.


The idea of trialling street changes like these came through as a suggestion from people in the community during early discussions about the Kilbirnie connections project. As a result, three potential trial locations were proposed during consultation.


Based on consultation feedback and other discussions with people in the community, a decision was made to proceed with just one trial at this stage – on the block of Freyberg Street between Queens Drive and Wha Street.


A get-together was held at the school in August so people living on this part of Freyberg Street could find out more about the plans and talk with Council staff. 


Councillor Sarah Free, who chairs Koata Hātepe, the Council’s Regulatory Processes Committee, is looking forward to seeing how the trial goes.


“We know there was some interest in this community in giving this a go and it’s always good to be able to trial changes before considering whether they should be made more permanent,” she says.


“This is the first time I’m aware of that we have tried something like this in a suburban area, but there is the potential to trial similar easy-to-install changes in other streets in the future if it works well and there is community interest. We all want our local streets to be quieter and safer places, especially for our children, the elderly or vulnerable, and even our pets.”

There have been discussions with emergency services and the Council’s waste management team ahead of the changes being made.