Laurie Christian was surprised to see new planter boxes and picnic tables set up on the road in front of his Kawai St property. Photo: Erin Bradnock.

Safety concerns over ‘people-friendly’ project

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Nelson South residents are worried that a new initiative to make the streets in their area more people-friendly might just be an accident waiting to happen.

Late last year, Nelson City Council set up a trial to make the area through Kawai South, Tipahi and Tukuka Streets more people-friendly.

The $950,000 project, 90 per cent funded through Waka Kotahi NZ, includes a four-way give way intersection, speeds bumps and controversial planter boxes and picnic table setups on the road.

However, despite speed reduction in the area, some residents are concerned about the safety of the planter boxes and picnic tables being placed on the road to slow vehicles.

Laurie Christian has lived at his Kawai Street address for 56 years and was surprised when the new planter boxes and picnic tables showed up in front of his property.

“I’m very disappointed with it. I thought the council would’ve come to speak to me before they set this up in front of my property. They never came round to check,” says Laurie.

Laurie describes the road set up as an “accident waiting to happen”.

Across the street, Brenda-Lee and Stuart Cole are concerned the project might make the area less safe for children.

“We’ve seen cars nearly hit kids. We don’t want our kids to see that and be traumatized,” says Brenda-Lee.

Nelson City Council’s group manager infrastructure Alec Louverdis says the Innovating Streets for People project came about after “considerable engagement” with the community.

Alec says many community members were “concerned about the speed of cars using their roads as a ‘rat run’ instead of Waimea Road.

He says speeds outside Nelson South Kindergarten have reduced by 37.5 per cent, which has effectively reduced speeds on the road to 30kph.

Community project leader and Kawai Street resident, Clare Scott, argues there is strong neighbourhood support for the project.

“I do get frustrated that people are getting bogged down in the nitty-gritty. It’s more about what kinds of neighbourhoods we want to create and the staff at Nelson City Council have been amazing to make this work,” she says.

Clare does admit that the planter boxes are “not ideal,” though she wants to remind the community that the project is a trial and open for feedback.

“The ultimate goal is to make the streets safer, slower and more about people than cars, and I think the project is meeting this goal.”

Residents can give feedback to council on www.shape.nelson.govt.nz/innovating-streets.