Debate is heating up between Pāpāmoa residents keen to have the speed limit reduced on a busy arterial route and others who don't see the point. Supporters of a petition calling for a drop in the Tara Rd speed limit will be heard in Tauranga City Council today where they will explain their concerns for the safety of motorists. Reporter Kiri Gillespie talks to Pāpāmoa residents and Tara Rd users to find out how far-reaching the concern really is.
Popular Pāpāmoa commuter thoroughfare Tara Rd is an accident waiting to happen, say people petitioning to have its speed limit slashed.
But not everyone thinks speeds on the road are a problem, and the impact on journey times has also been raised.
A petition signed by 73 people calling for the speed limit to be lowered from 80km/h will be presented to Tauranga City Council's Projects, Services and Operations Committee today.
The petitioners complained traffic travelled too fast along the 2km stretch, creating an unsafe environment and risk to residents attempting to get in and out of driveways or streets.
Michelle Pratt, director of New Shoots Children's Centre on Twin Oak Drive, said crossing the road was "extremely unsafe".
"Our parents have immense difficulty accessing Twin Oak Drive in the morning and afternoon.
"You are taking your life into your own hands as you wait to cross the road by vehicle. It is extremely dangerous. If the speed limit is reduced this would make a huge difference and make the road a lot safer."
Pratt said she would like to see the speed dropped to 60km/h.
New Shoots was not the only education facility in the Western Bay to plead for lower speed limits in the past year.
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Te Ranga School, Kaimai School and Tauriko School have each campaigned for slower speeds around their entrances.
Jackie Brady, a resident of Twin Oak Ave - off Tara Rd - and creator of the petition Jackie Brady agreed the road was unsafe.
"My biggest fear is that one of those parents is going to pull out and bang," she said.
"The limit is 80km/h but how many people stick to the speed limit? I hear skidding all the time. It's petrifying."
Brady said despite Tara Rd's double-laning, motorists travelling on outside lanes rarely moved to allow waiting traffic in or to get up to speed.
"You can get 10 cars backed up of people waiting to come out."
A report by council traffic and planning specialist Duncan Wilson, which will also be presented today, listed longer travel times as a potential negative impact of a lower limit, but did not detail this further.
Tara Rd's speed limit would be reviewed as part of a wider citywide speed limit review within the next 12 months.
Wilson said there had been four crashes on the road since it was upgraded to four lanes in 2016.
Two involved serious injuries - one when a police vehicle was struck while attempting a U-turn to follow a speeding vehicle, and another where a motorcyclist lost control while weaving between cars to overtake.
Police road policing Sergeant Craig Rawlinson said police did not have an opinion on whether speed limits should be increased or decreased but officers would enforce whatever limit is set.
Te Puke resident Karen Weld said she signed the petition because whenever she drove Tara Rd "it's always a nightmare".
"I find it very hard to get back across the road and cars seem like they're going 100km/h. I end up travelling down to the roundabout and coming back up that way instead."
Weld said she would not want the speed limit dropped to 50km/h but it would be good to make the area safer.
However, such concerns were not shared by all residents.
Twin Oak Ave residents Gavyn and Shannon Burns said the current speed was fine and were surprised some people thought differently.
"Even though it's fast, it's two lanes. There's hardly ever two cars going side by side so you can get on and off it fine," he said.
Other Pāpāmoa residents, who would not be named, said the idea was "ridiculous".
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Pāpāmoa ward representative councillor Leanne Brown said she had received mixed feedback.
"It's a bit of a Catch-22. A lot of people are saying there are dangerous road speeds there but also that's a driver issue, not a road or speed issue.
"Most people travel around about the speed limit which seems to be fine. [The road] is flat, it's wide and well lit. There has been a couple of incidents but half of the people I've heard from say it's down to driver error and common sense to prevail."
Fellow Pāpāmoa councillor Steve Morris said he won't be taking part in any voting about the petition because his street came out on to Tara Rd.
"But I have noticed ... you can have cars coming pretty quickly at you [pulling out on to Tara Rd]."
According to a New Zealand Transport Agency Mega Maps risk assessment data tool, Tara Rd's current speed limit of 80km/h is appropriate. This comes despite most Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty roads not meeting limits deemed as safe for the conditions.
The transport agency released its findings in June, revealing a majority of speed limits in the region were too high.