Nikki Preston

Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Deadly crash lends weight to local fears

A sharp corner has concerned Waihou residents for a number of years. Photo / Thinkstock
A sharp corner has concerned Waihou residents for a number of years. Photo / Thinkstock

Waihou residents have been campaigning for more than 20 years for help to slow speeding traffic through the small Waikato town, and on Friday night their fears came true when a local motorcyclist was killed.

The 45-year-old was travelling east along SH26 in Waihou towards Te Aroha, when his motorbike collided with a car turning out of Campbell St about 6.45pm.

The man died at the scene. The car's occupants, an elderly couple understood to be from Te Aroha, were shaken but uninjured.

One resident said the motorbike looked "pretty munted", another said it appeared the motorcycle had been travelling quite fast.

A sharp corner on the stretch of road between Ngutumanga Rd and Campbell St has concerned residents for a number of years.

Former Waihou Hall committee president Ernie Bygrave said the committee had warned authorities that a fatal crash could happen in that spot.

He had been calling on the council and the NZ Transport Agency since 1991 to install a median strip.

He said most accidents in the town were the result of vehicles going too fast and not giving those turning on to SH26 a chance to get across. But this was the first fatal crash he knew of.

"Even the councillors have spoken to me and said [a median strip] would be a good idea ... but nothing has ever been done.

"And now a fatality has occurred - I'm not saying it wouldn't have occurred - but if a median strip had been put in, it would have created an area where people believed it was a built-up area and they had to go slower."

Matamata-Piako District Council Mayor Hugh Vercoe said the 50km/h limit was introduced when the Waihou School was operating and now it had closed some people wanted the limit increased to 70km/h.

"Our position is there's a pub on one corner that doesn't cause any problems, there are houses on the same side as the school and pub and there is a dairy on the opposite side of the road.

"I travel that road most days and regularly see police enforcing the speed limit," he said. "We believe the 50km/h speed limit is satisfactory."

- NZ Herald

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