Someone will be killed on the road outside Hawke’s Bay’s biggest school unless something is urgently done to fix consistent congestion and speeding.
That’s the view of Napier Boys’ High School principal Matt Bertram who says his greatest fear is that he will be outside when a pedestrian is hit.
“It is a tragedy waiting to happen,” said the head teacher, who is disappointed no changes are planned for Willowbank Rd and Chambers St in the Napier City Council’s five-yearly Speed Limits Bylaw Review.
He has made a submission, and told Hawke’s Bay Today he would like to see the limit the length of Willowbank Ave cut from 100km/h to 80km/h with a 70km/h buffer starting at least 250 metres from Geddis Ave before hitting the 50km/h zone.
In the submission he wrote that the school supports proposed lower speed limits but “strongly opposes the current speed limits on Willowbank Rd, leading into Chambers St from the south”.
“We also deplore the lack of traffic calming measures on this stretch of road,” Bertram says. “This should be included in the council’s proposals.”
He says lower speed limits should be coupled with suitable traffic calming measures, both to support the intersection at Geddis Ave and the school zone.
Speeding is common in the danger area of student and teacher parking at the Chambers St kerbside outside the school, which has a roll of about 1200 pupils and more than 140 school and hostel employees, making it one of Hawke’s Bay’s biggest single work sites.
Bertram has been worried about the problem ever since he arrived from Wellington to take up his job three years ago. He has seen traffic increase steadily on both Chambers St and Te Awa Ave on the opposite side of the school with the growth of the subdivisions between the school and the Maraenui Golf Course.
Regular users have also noticed recent increases in traffic on Willowbank Ave, a combination of traffic taking the 70km/h Kenny Rd route from the Te Awa subdivisions, and possibly resulting from new routes into Napier being taken through the Brookfields and Sandy roads link from Pakowhai to Meeanee since the opening of the Whakatu Arterial between State Highway 2 and Pakowhai Rd before Christmas.
The school has also proposed specific parking zones for pupils in Te Awa Ave to take some of the parked vehicles away from Chambers St, although there are some who say a ready solution would be an off-road parking area on the Chambers St reserve.
Bertram said police had been good in helping minimise the dangers, with regular patrols and speed-traps, particularly in Chambers St.
A minor incident at the main Te Awa Ave entrance to the school on Friday was not thought to have reflected the traffic problems.
It was understood to have involved a rubbish truck, a car, and an archway. Emergency services were called and a person was helped from a vehicle, but no injuries were reported.
Meanwhile, public submissions in the council’s speed limits review remain open until March 8.
Police target teens
Teenagers driving to school in Hawke’s Bay are being fined and are having demerit points tagged against their licences in a new campaign aimed at educating the teens on the use of their vehicles before it’s too late.
Two were issued with instant fines as a team of six Road Policing Team patrols mounted checkpoints on the busy Chambers St outside the gates of Napier Boys’ High School on Thursday morning.
It was part of a wider back-to-school operation targeting people using cellphones while driving, drivers and passengers not wearing seatbelts, speeds, and licence breaches, such as carrying passengers outside the terms of their licences.
In a project supported by schools, some were issued with compliance notices giving them time to take the next step and upgrade from learner licence to restricted or restricted to full.
RPT members Constables Nathan Ross and Emma Lupton said research had found letting offenders off fines didn’t send the right messages.
Other students were seen pointing and laughing as one car was stopped on Thursday, and were possibly doing the same with those who had been fined.
“They’ll be talking about it,” Ross said.
Lupton said she had become particularly concerned about the number of students driving to and from Hawke’s Bay’s biggest school in breach of their licences or committing other road offences, so police spoke to the school about how to run a project to help prevent tragedies on the road.