Small town drivers meet traffic lights

March 20, 2009

Oamaru’s main street has been a work in progress for months as two roundabouts were removed and replaced with traffic lights. Lights have also been put in at other intersections.

Yesterday the first set of lights was turned on and I didn’t notice anything amiss but a business owner near by told me there had been several instances near misses between drivers and pedestrians.

The ODT spent an hour watching and observed:

One woman driving south on Thames St who drove straight through a red light.

Pedestrians crossing Eden St east who did what they usually did – walked out on to the street without seeing or bothering about the green crossing light.

Motorists doing illegal U-turns on Thames St at the intersection.

Motorists not observing the right-turn light, especially those turning from Eden St.

Pedestrians stopping halfway across Thames St on the island, not realising they could continue crossing on the red flashing pedestrian light.

Some not going into the right-hand turn lane when wanting to turn right, then cutting across those who had waited in the correct lane.

Turning motorists getting stranded in the middle of the intersection when lights turned red.

Left-turning motorists not giving way to those turning right when the light changed to green.

One of the reasons the roundabouts didn’t work as they should have was because local drivers entered the intersections when they couldn’t get through and thus prevent those coming at right angles from getting round.

The list above suggests some drivers will have similar problems with road rules about lights.

The main street is also State Highway 1 which makes it busy and while retailers wouldn’t like it, the best – though expensive – solution would be a by-pass.

But main road or not, the real problem will be the removal of parks from between the trees which bisect the street. Small town drivers are accustomed to being able to park outside or very close to where they want to go and the loss of more than a dozen parks won’t be appreciated.

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