Parua Bay resident and mother of two Aimee Harrison has taken it upon herself to guide school children and their parents across the busy Whangārei Heads Rd with a home-crafted lollipop sign.
Just in time for the new term, Harrison positioned herself outside Parua Bay School yesterday during drop-off and pick-up time to stop approaching cars as there is no designated pedestrian crossings throughout Parua Bay village.
Harrison had approached the school three years ago and inquired about introducing a regular school patrol, but she said her request was being ignored.
"Over the school holidays, I took an old cleaning pole and made this lollipop sign all by myself, and then I freed up some time in my schedule to come out here and patrol," Harrison said.
"A patrol is all it needs to get parents and kids across the road and keep them safe – it's a simple thing. Whangārei Heads Rd is just getting busier and crazier. I don't want there to be a fatality before people realise how dangerous it is."
Several local residents stood on the side of the road to show their support for Harrison on Wednesday morning and parents appreciated her road assistance.
"I think it's really cool. Cars always drive past very fast," Kirsty Howie, mother of two, said.
Even though she only lives a few minutes up the road, Howie said someone would always walk her children to school, because the road was so busy.
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Problems around road safety have been raised before, and in 2012 Whangārei District Council campaigned for funding from the New Zealand Transport Agency to change the 70km/h zone in the village to 50km/h. During school drop-off and pick-up times, the speed limit goes down to 40km/h.
Parua Bay School's new principal Mark Ashcroft, who has just started his second term there, said he was aware of the road safety issues and that the school some time had been working alongside the council for to improve the situation.
"There is no question that the road is a peril, and I completely support the desire for safety."
He said, however, that a potential pedestrian crossing or road patrol would require careful planning and assessments by the district council.
While Ashcroft commended Harrison's sentiment for safety, he said there would need to be proper signage to warn approaching cars about a road patrol.
"For now, there needs to be another safe practice to get children across the road. It's the parents' responsibility that their children come to school safely," Ashcroft said.
Parua Bay School is currently under construction and the hope is that a new, large car parking area on the school grounds will provide a safe zone for children to be dropped off.
Council wasn't able to confirm plans around road control for Parua Bay.
WDC spokeswoman Ann Midson said council, too, wanted the children to be safe and would continue working with the school and community.
Midson said installing a pedestrian crossing in the area was problematic as cars are entering the a 50km/h zone from 100km/h zone and exit to an open road which doesn't put drivers in the same mindset as it would in an urbanised area and could mean they're not prepared to stop.
"We don't want to create a false sense of security for the children. If we put in a crossing, children might get the message that it is safe to cross even though cars might not be prepared to stop."
Midson said the best thing people could do is create awareness around roadside hazards within their community.