A cycleway that is not safe for an eight-year-old is not safe for anybody, is the message presented to the Kāpiti Coast District Council by residents petitioning for a safe crossing in Poplar Ave.
The petition, asking for a safer crossing in Poplar Ave to be established at the end of Te Ara o Whareroa, the shared pathway through Queen Elizabeth Park, has been placed into the hands of councillor Sophie Handford after being signed by more than 720 people.
This is in order to protect children regularly crossing there, and prioritise the welfare of walkers and cyclists so as to encourage transport emissions to decline.
Paul Callister, who created the petition, said, “As another effort related to climate change and safe cycling, I have been running a petition to get a safe crossing of Poplar Ave.
“The idea was initiated by Sahra Kress and since starting it, the support has been fantastic.
“At first I was worried we were only going to get a hundred signatures, but slowly it has built up and now has 724 signatures, mainly local people.”
Notable signatures include that of New Zealand climate scientist and Climate Change Commissioner James Renwick, who lives in Raumati Beach.
“I’m signing to say we need the safest and best cycling infrastructure, so that the most people, of all ages, have the opportunity to enjoy it.
“Cycling is such an important part of our transport mix.”
Te Ara o Whareroa shared walking and cycling track is a high-use track that connects Paekākāriki and Raumati South.
It is used by local primary and secondary school students, is a popular dog-walking track and is also used as a commuting track by cyclists.
However, at the Raumati South end of the track, there is no crossing of Poplar Ave.
Paul said the absence of a crossing is made even more dangerous because it is at a complex intersection where Poplar Ave meets the south end of Mataī Rd.
“Walkers and cyclists have long been concerned that it is dangerous crossing this road.
“Despite many attempts to get the Kāpiti Coast District Council to make this a safe, child-friendly crossing, cars continue to have priority.”
The petition is not only about safety, but about continuing to encourage cycling as a sustainable form of transport.
“Kāpiti Coast District Council has declared a climate emergency and transport emissions need to decline.
“In order to address climate change and for safety reasons, we need to prioritise the welfare of walkers and cyclists on Poplar Ave and support safe cycling across the entire district.”
This petition is endorsed by Low Carbon Kāpiti, Kāpiti Climate Change Action Group and Kāpiti Cycling Action whose aim is for people to be able to cycle safely in their local area.
Kāpiti Cycling Action’s Lynn Sleath said they had been trying to obtain improvements to the crossing since the pathway was first completed.
“Several potential users indicated their concerns when Greater Wellington first showed us the proposed route through Queen Elizabeth Park.
“We are concerned about traffic speed and the proximity of the crossing to the Matai Rd intersection which complicates the traffic movements.
“The current crossing is not up to standard for the type of user (young cyclists) and places no obligation on the motorist to look out for active transport users.”
Jean Fleming, of Low Carbon Kāpiti, said, “It is essential to get a crossing here as you’ve probably all seen the number of children around here often going from Paekākāriki right through Queen Elizabeth Park, crossing this road.
“I’m very pleased that Low Carbon Kāpiti can partner with this.”
In response, Kāpiti Coast District Council access and transport manager Glen O’Connor said, “We are aware of community concern and have already taken proactive steps to improve the safety of this area.
“This includes putting electronic signage in place on the eastbound approach of Poplar Ave just west of the Matai Rd intersection, encouraging motorists to reduce their speed.
“While this area is not identified as a ‘high risk’ by Waka Kotahi, we have committed to undertaking another review to see if any further safety improvements are needed.
“We anticipate that this review will be complete by May next year.”
When the petition was handed over, Sophie said, “This is about putting people and the planet first.
“I’m committed to tabling this at council, to say that 724 people support some kind of safe crossing – this is a really strong call to action.
“Congratulations to the people who have organised it and rallied our community in such a beautiful way around our planet, around safety, and around the importance of putting people and the planet above cars.”