Motorists, walkers adapting to crossings

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The size of the new green countdown lanterns on Barnes Dance crossings in inner-city Dunedin is causing some confusion for drivers.

The Dunedin City Council has been installing Barnes Dances, which allow pedestrians to cross in every direction, including diagonally, in the city centre since March.

On several occasions vehicles stopped at a red light have been observed beginning to move when the driver sees the green person.

Yesterday in an hour, between 12.30pm and 1.30pm, the drivers of 10 of the 102 vehicles that stopped at a red light in the Octagon appeared confused when the green countdown lantern started.

They either moved off and then stopped, or moved off and had to reverse.

Council transport engineering and road safety team leader Hjarne Poulsen said motorists and pedestrians were “adapting well” to the Barnes Dances and feedback on them had been “largely positive”.

“We’ve received a couple of comments about the size of the countdown lantern, but it is the required size of 300mm.”

Mr Poulsen said this happened at other intersections too, not just those with the Barnes Dance.

“We’re still looking into ways that we can improve them.”

AA Otago district chairman Malcolm Budd said the new system was not to blame but people needed to be more aware of their obligations.

“Motorists need to not be distracted and concentrate on what they’re doing,” he said.

“We support the Barnes Dance system . . . It’s safer as it allows pedestrians to see how much time they have to cross.”