Near-misses on south coast prompt call for everyone to slow down, take care

26 April 2020

The call has gone out for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians to slow down and take care on the roads around Wellington’s south coast – ahead of a City Council move to introduce a temporary 30kmh speed limit on sections of the road between Breaker Bay and Owhiro Bay

The request follows a number of ‘near misses’ involving motor vehicles and the large number of pedestrians and cyclists using the roads for exercise since the Covid-19 lockdown began.

Deputy Mayor Sarah Free and Councillor Laurie Foon, representing the Motukairangi Eastern Ward and Paekawakawa Southern Ward respectively, say the City Council has received a steady stream of complaints and messages of concern about near-misses on the seaside road so they’re asking motorists and cyclists to slow down to 30kmh along the route.

Along with Mayor Andy Foster, they have also asked Council managers to work urgently to introduce the temporary 30kmh speed limit. The speed reduction can be introduced under the Land Transport Act, Road controlling authorities, including councils, are able to set ‘emergency speed limits’ if there is a risk of danger to any person due to an emergency that affects the use of any road.

The list of applicable emergencies in the Land Transport Act includes earthquakes, eruptions, tsunami, storms – and epidemics.

Deputy Mayor Free says the Council has sought advice on the speed reduction from NZTA “and they are supportive”.

She says the Council anticipates the temporary speed reduction will apply for the duration of pandemic Alert Levels 3 and 2.

The formal speed reduction will apply from 5 May which is the earliest the Council can install the necessary number of temporary signs due to signage and contractor availability.

“Should the Government guidelines change for Alert level 2, we will review the situation and assess whether the emergency speed limits should still apply.”

Cr Foon says it is great to see such an upsurge in families cycling, along with walkers and runners who are all enjoying our beautiful coast during the lockdown.

“But we’ve had a number of hair-raising incidents reported to us over the past week or so where pedestrians have narrowly avoided being hit by cars and cyclists. I’ve had lots of community feedback that people want the traffic speeds to drop.

“It’s much busier than normal on those roads – and a big part of the problem is where footpaths are narrow and pedestrians are trying to stay two metres apart when they’re passing.

“We’ve had lots of reports that people are stepping onto the road – sometimes without looking – and there’ve been some awful near-misses.

She says the situation between Lyall Bay and Owhiro Bay has been exacerbated by the high-frequency trips being made by tanker trucks carrying sewage sludge from Moa Point to the Southern Landfill. “These trucks are big and scary and in some spots there’s very little room for emergency manoeuvres.

“If we can get everyone to slow down then we’ll have a far better chance of keeping everyone safe on the coast.”

Deputy Mayor Free asks everyone to take extra care: "If you’re walking or running and you have to step onto the road then please follow the old rules – look both ways and make sure the road is clear before you do it.

“If you’re driving – slow down and take care.”