11 June 2018
In a first for Whanganui, upgraded traffic signals with special lights for cyclists to cross safely alongside pedestrians have been installed at the St Hill Street/Ridgway Street intersection.
The update is part of the Te Tuaiwi shared pathway for cyclists and pedestrians which will eventually run the length of St Hill Street. The new signals will be installed at all St Hill Street intersections from Ingestre Street to Taupō Quay.
While these traffic signals are being used in other New Zealand cities, this technology is new for Whanganui, says Whanganui District Council’s Senior Roading Engineer Rui Leitao.
“The previous traffic signals were well past their use-by date and their parts were no longer made. The upgraded signals, subsidised by the New Zealand Transport Agency, will work much more efficiently and will create a safe ‘corridor’ for cyclists once the St Hill Street intersections have been upgraded,” he says.
Cyclists will need to push a specially-marked cycle button to activate the signal sequence. Mobility scooters/scooters and skateboards are legally classified as pedestrians, so should use the pedestrian lane. Pedestrians will no longer be able to cross diagonally.
Special sensors beneath the shared pathway – similar to those for vehicles – detect cyclist numbers, giving cyclists and pedestrians an extra 5-15 seconds to cross ahead of turning vehicles. Motorists travelling straight through the intersection will proceed as normal.
Pedestrian and cycle crossing lanes have also been clearly marked to separate cyclists from pedestrians.
Mr Leitao says motorists will notice designated right-turning lanes have been painted on the roadway and left and right turning arrows have been installed.
The footpath on the Royal Wanganui Opera House side of St Hill Street has been resealed and special decorative paving laid outside the entrances to the opera house and Cooks Gardens. The paving lay-out, which links with each entrance, was designed by local architect Bruce Dickson.
Work is currently underway at the Guyton Street/St Hill Street intersection to upgrade traffic signals and extend the kerb on the shared pathway. Diagonal crossing will no longer be available at this intersection. Work is expected to be completed towards the end of this month.
By August traffic signals will be installed at the Taupō Quay/St Hill Street intersection to provide safe, direct access to the Whanganui River for shared pathway users.
The special cycle signals, first used in Christchurch, were developed by Christchurch-based traffic engineering company, ViaStrada.
Caption: Testing the new traffic lights are (from left) Active Transport Facilitator Norman Gruebsch, cyclists Jeremy Gabriel and Michaella Laird, ViaStrada consultant Bill Simmons of Advanced Traffic in Christchurch and Senior Roading Engineer Rui Leitao.