A call to slow down traffic and ban trucks on one of Mount Maunganui's most popular roads has prompted a call to "get people to obey the bloody law first".
Oceanbeach Rd residents Janet Chapman and Paul Edwards presented a petition to Tauranga City Council's Projects, Services and Operations Committee yesterday
calling for help to make the beachside road safer.
The petition drew 238 signatures from Oceanbeach Rd residents and neighbours. It asked for more pedestrian refuges to help more people cross the road safely; a 40km/h speed limit; a ban for medium to heavy vehicles; a review of the parallel parking and door-opening line; and a review of Bayhopper bus routes servicing the area.
"Oceanbeach Rd is no longer a calm and safe road," Edwards told councillors.
"The traffic, vibrations, noise and pollution is overwhelming. Now, it is a congested rat run. There is very easy access, very few impediments but there are consequences. Simply put, the road is unsafe, mostly for pedestrians but also road users."
Edwards then showed a series of photos of crashes, near-misses and heavy vehicle use from recent years.
"Summer is coming with more residents, visitors and pedestrians accessing the beach.
"The road is critically narrow. There's not enough room for everyone to use the road."
Edwards said a major concern was the number of large empty buses and other heavy vehicles such as commercial freight trucks.
"Everyone wants a calm, safe environment. We have to create that but we are getting the exact opposite. We have become a commercial thoroughfare."
Later in the meeting, director of Transport Brendan Bisley said it would be easy enough to create a bylaw banning trucks but how this ban would be enforced and the potential impact on other roads such as Links Ave needed serious consideration, he added.
Meanwhile, the council was already on track to install pedestrian refuges on Oceanbeach Rd, as well as Papamoa Beach Rd. Currently, Oceanbeach Rd has just three crossings servicing the 3.7 km.
These were considered safer alternatives for the road than controlled or zebra crossings, which had the potential to take motorists by surprise, Bisley said.
He referred to two local fatalities on zebra crossings within the past five years.
However, in his report which was presented at the meeting, Bisley referred to a speed survey of the area revealing 2000 to 3000 vehicles were travelling faster than the speed limit, "therefore, a pedestrian crossing was not considered appropriate".
Councillors Heidi Hughes and John Robson each questioned Bisley on this, with Robson saying: "What we need to do is get people to obey the bloody law first.
"You are saying because of the illegal behaviour of 2000 to 3000 vehicles a pedestrian crossing is not considered appropriate? Somehow we have got this backwards, in my view. There's a fundamental issue here. I think we need to think this through again," Robson said.
Bisley replied the council was planning a city-wide review of speed limits, which could include Oceanbeach Rd. However, this would not likely happen before mid-2021.
Mayor Tenby Powell said the council had "a problem that has been in the making for a long, long time, exacerbated by growth".
Powell said there were two significant NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi projects affecting traffic in the area - the Baypark to Bayfair (B2B) Project and the Papamoa Eastern Interchange (PEI). Until those could be completed, it was important to focus on what could be done in the interim, he said.
Councillor Hughes called for a report to assess the viability and impact of lowering the speed limit and banning trucks on Oceanbeach Rd, which was voted in unanimously.
After the meeting, cyclist Shane Plummer said residents avoided using Oceanbeach Rd because in their view it was too dangerous.
Plummer said he would like to see greater safety measures in place to help increase the visibility of cyclists. Until that happened, "cyclists will be put at risk", he said.
In June, surfers Paul Wacker and Jane Asbury raised their concerns about the risks of crossing Oceanbeach Rd. They brought their surfboards into council chambers and said they felt like there would be an accident if something wasn't done due to the traffic.