Shopping in Rotorua 20 years ago was a different experience to today. On the side of busy State Highway 30A was the CBD, full of retailers big and small, and on the other side was just The Warehouse.
Fast-forward 20 years and a majority of big-name retailers have been sucked from the CBD to the other side of still busy State Highway 30A into Rotorua Central Mall, leaving the CBD with large sites empty.
Changing consumer habits - from locals supporting locals to locals supporting faceless, big name corporates and the decline of "brick and mortar" shops to online shopping haven't helped fill the empty spaces either.
This is where Rotorua must get the Central Corridor revamp of State Highway 30A/Amohau St right.
No logical city would ever plan a four-six lane highway through the middle of their CBD, yet that is exactly what we've got with State Highway 30A/Amohau St.
When it comes to planning any roads in the CBD, the first consideration should be "does the plan make it easier for people to visit the CBD?".
As opposed to the current road which only considers making it easier for cars and trucks to drive through the CBD - bellowing exhaust fumes in their wake.
Planners must also consider access by tour buses to the many Chinese restaurants which feature on Amohau St.
Ultimately the revamp must ensure safe and easy access from the Mall to the CBD to allow people to breathe life into Rotorua retail again.
Accidents and penalties
The slaughter on our roads will continue in spite of the concerted efforts of the police to prevent it. The only thing that may bring it to a halt is a better attitude from the courts, which have to look more seriously at each and every case and toughen up their sentencing.
Driving a motor vehicle is a responsible activity. It must be taken more sensibly by drivers. Texting or using a mobile phone is a distraction and therefore too dangerous while in control of a vehicle. The penalty for this should be at least $500 fine and a year's suspension of the licence.
Causing death by dangerous driving should be a lifetime ban and imprisonment. In my view, it is plain murder.
Other driving infringements must be taken more seriously by the magistrates and judges before the death toll becomes even more of a nightmare.
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