Nikki Papatsoumas is an NZME. News Service reporter based in Wellington.

Golden Mile bus route death: Psychology of crossing the road

The Go Wellington buses. Photo / Cliffano Subagio
The Go Wellington buses. Photo / Cliffano Subagio

A researcher speaking at the inquest of a jogger who was hit by a bus says there is no evidence to suggest pedestrians' crossing behaviour is unsafe along Wellington's Golden Mile bus route.

Dr Jared Thomas, research manager of the Behavioural Sciences Unit at Opus, was the first to give evidence today to Coroner Garry Evans, in the inquest into the death of Venessa Ann Green, which began this morning.

Ms Green, 40, was out jogging when she was struck by a bus on Willis St in the central city, after she stepped off the footpath, and onto the road.

Dr Thomas, who works in the area of human factors research in road safety, provided the coroner with a report on pedestrian and vehicle behaviour at four sites along the Golden Mile bus route, which runs from Lambton Quay to Courtenay Place.

The report studied how pedestrians were interacting with different road environments along the route.

As part of the report Dr Thomas studied pedestrian and vehicle behaviour immediately south of the intersection of Willis and Bond streets, where Ms Green was hit.

In his report Dr Thomas said there was nothing to conclusively confirm that pedestrian crossing behaviour, or vehicle driver behaviour, was unsafe as a consequence of the infrastructure on Willis St, between Manners and Bond streets.

Infrastructure included street furniture, road signs and anything else that would cause a visual impediment, he told the coroner.

Dr Thomas told the coroner he believed the death of Ms Green was an opportunity to reinforce "social norms".

"There's an opportunity to reinforce social norms around what we think are good behaviours, such as wait times."

He said pedestrians did not have a lack of knowledge when it came to crossing behaviour, but instead needed a better understanding of the consequences if they did not adhere to these good behaviours.

Ms Green was the first pedestrian to die since the opening of the priority bus lanes in central Wellington in 2010, which has led to a rise in the number of people getting hit by buses.

Accidents between pedestrians and vehicles along the Golden Mile bus route have led Wellington City Council to introduce more safety measures.

The inquest, at Wellington District Court, continues next week.

Accidents along the Golden Mile bus route

- February 2014: A woman was hit by a Go Wellington bus as she was crossing Manners St, near the bottom of Cuba Mall. She was taken to hospital in a serious condition.

- March 2013: A cyclist is hit by a bus on Manners Mall.

- July 2012: NZ Bus director Tim Brown suffered serious injuries after he was hit by one of his company's own Go Wellington buses on Willis Street.

- August 2012: A woman in her 40s was knocked down by a bus on the corner of Hunter and Featherston streets.

- Nov 2011: A 25-year-old woman was wearing earphones and looking at her cellphone when she stepped into the path of the Go Wellington bus in Manners Street.

- July 2011: Venessa Green, 40, was out jogging when she was struck by a bus on Willis St in the central city, after she stepped off the footpath, and onto the road.


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