Nelsonians nonchalantly stroll across a courtesy crossing. Photo: Jonty Dine.

What’s the deal with … Speed bumps or pedestrian crossings?


Every Nelsonian will know the confusion that comes when walking up to a raised crossing in the central city. Do you have right of way or should you patiently wait for traffic to pass? Jonty Dine asks what’s the deal with Nelson’s raised crossings?

On a recent Saturday morning, Nelsonian Dean Schneider walked up to the corner of Bridge and Trafalgar St and made a concerted effort to make eye contact with a driver before crossing the road.

The car slowed and then Dean happily strolled across towards his destination. But judging by a Nelson Weekly survey of the scene on Saturday, Dean’s experience is likely in the minority. Time after time, pedestrians would nonchalantly jaunt across the raised crossing, often not checking to see if cars had stopped.

Motorists also seemed resigned to the fact they had to stop to let people cross.
So who has right of way at Nelson’s raised crossings?

Dean says it has always been his understanding that the speed bumps were pedestrian crossings.

“As a pedestrian I think I have the right of way, but I never take it for granted.”

He says he stops to make eye contact with drivers to see if they see him and then go for it.

“I’ll give them a thumbs up or a smile, that’s part of being a Kiwi.”

As a motorist, Dean says he also treats the areas as pedestrian crossings.

“I guess what happens in Nelson is what happens in Nelson. It’s the best spot in the best country in the world and maybe we just like to do things a little differently.”

The Nelson Weekly asked the official source for the final word on the matter.

The Nelson City Council says courtesy crossings are not official pedestrian crossings.

“The changed surface alerts drivers to reduce their speed and to be aware of pedestrians.”

Council says pedestrians shouldn’t just step out onto the crossing.

“Have a look first, make eye contact with drivers and smile. It’s about courtesy, let cars cross if they’ve been waiting awhile.”

Council says this also applies to motorists.

“Go slow, smile and remember that pedestrians are fragile.”