Delays in installing a pedestrian crossing across Sandspit Road at the notorious Hill Street intersection have exasperated a Warkworth transport planner, who wants to establish an advocacy group to fight for better walking access in the town.
The seriousness of the walking situation was rammed home for Bevan Woodward when he was temporarily locked out of his Elizabeth Street office and wandered around the streets noting hazards faced by pedestrians.
“I watched school kids trying to cross streets to get to school, and I was just shocked how dangerous it is for them,” he says.
Among the trouble spots he identified were pedestrians attempting to cross Sandspit Road, at the Hill Street intersection, and trying to cross Matakana Road, at nearby Melwood Drive.
Other danger areas included pedestrians crossing Elizabeth Street and Mill Lane.
Underscoring the low priority given to walkers, Mr Woodward noted signs around Warkworth urging pedestrians to exercise caution as motorists had the right of way.
He says it’s no wonder parents drive their children to school given what their young ones must deal with.
“I know parents who live on Hill Street and they will not let their children walk into town because it means crossing State Highway 1,” he says.
He says when people start driving because they feel it is too unsafe to walk, it adds unnecessary traffic congestion and fuels the demand for more roads, which makes life even worse for pedestrians.
Mr Woodward says there have been plans for a pedestrian crossing at Hill Street for more than two years and he is appalled that so far nothing has been done.
Rodney Local Board chair Beth Houlbrooke says the absence of a pedestrian crossing is also frustrating for the Board.
It finished upgrading facilities at nearby Kowhai Park about 18 months ago, but the park is less usable and accessible without a crossing.
A NZ Transport Agency spokesperson says the agency, along with Auckland Transport, is looking at options to fast track the delivery of pedestrian safety improvements at Hill Street ahead of other rehabilitation works due in the next financial year. They hope to be able to confirm this by next month.
Meanwhile, Mr Woodward is pushing ahead with his “Walkable Warkworth” working group to press for better walking facilities for Warkworth at Hill Street and elsewhere in the town.
He says a group would be able to exert more influence than an individual activist. The hope would be to hold regular meetings with NZTA and AT to press the case for pedestrians in Warkworth and make it a place that walkers can be proud of.
Interested in joining Walking Warkworth? Contact Bevan Woodward, 021 122 6040 or email email@example.com.