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.