Mystery surrounds beachside town's new wavy zebra crossing

Author
Nikki Preston, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 23 Dec 2021, 2:00PM
The quirky zebra crossing on Black Jack Road in Kuaotunu was painted during the night by frustrated residents. (Photo / Brent Page)
The quirky zebra crossing on Black Jack Road in Kuaotunu was painted during the night by frustrated residents. (Photo / Brent Page)

Mystery surrounds beachside town's new wavy zebra crossing

Author
Nikki Preston, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 23 Dec 2021, 2:00PM

A code of silence surrounds a quirky hand-painted zebra crossing that popped up in the dead of the night in the popular beachside town of Kuaotunu in the Coromandel. 

But the local council is not amused, saying the makeshift crossing between a reserve and shops is illegal and confusing, and anyone using it should do so at their own risk. 

Thames-Coromandel District Council is planning to remove the wavy white stripes on Black Jack Rd near the cafe and iconic Luke's Kitchen restaurant as soon as it can - but that won't be until after Christmas. 

The controversial street art appeared last week and comes just as thousands of out of towners are expected to flock to the picturesque holiday hot spot. 

The community has been calling on Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and TCDC to improve safety on the busy road for almost 10 years after a number of near-misses on the sharp corner. 

Kuaotunu Residents and Ratepayers Association chairman Brent Page said residents were frustrated by the lack of action, which had been coming to a head over the past six months. 

Certain members of the community appeared to have taken the law into their own hands and painted the crossing at a spot designed for one on the 45 degree corner by Luke's Kitchen. The road was also a thoroughfare to Opito Bay and Otama Beach. 

"Certainly there's been enough speculation about who may have done it, but I would say the code of silence is definitely locked done on that one and rightly so." 

Page's property overlooks the area and he said so far the crossing appeared to be working remarkably well. 

"We don't condone activity that contravenes current legislation, however I would have to say as chair of KRA, I'm proud to be elected by a community that takes measures to protect the safety of its villages in the face of years of bureaucratic inaction." 

He was pleased the council and Waka Kotahi might finally take some action as a result and said they weren't necessarily asking for the speed limit to be reduced, but for more of a shared zone such as the one in Garden Place in Hamilton. 

The association had even offered to co-fund any safety measures. 

TCDC roading manager Ed Varley said the council was working with the local ratepayers' association and Waka Kotahi to manage driver speed and pedestrian safety on this part of Black Jack Road. 

Varley ruled out a zebra crossing being part of these proposals and said there were no historical safety issues with this location other than more people walking in the area over summer. 

"The markings are illegal and create a safety issue by generating potential confusion on priority between drivers and pedestrians. The road marking is non-compliant with current standards and will be removed by our council as soon as possible. 

"Anybody using the crossing does so at their own risk, and pedestrians have no priority over vehicle traffic." 

The council has erected warning signs to try to reduce the potential for accidents until it can remove it. 

If an accident occurred at the makeshift crossing, then those involved in painting the unauthorised markings may be held liable for injury and could face criminal prosecution, Varley said. 

TCDC has involved police and wants members of the public with any information regarding the person or persons responsible for the unauthorised markings to contact them quoting incident number OR-269054N.