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Speed marking ‘death trap’

30kmh speed signs have been painted on to roads in Masterton. PHOTO/GRACE PRIOR

Masterton District Council has installed bright red 30kmh speed markings on roads leading to Queen St.

Council roading services manager Kaine Jaquiery said the council had “followed the lead of major metropolitan centres Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch in choosing the material, which is specifically designed not to be a slip hazard for road users, including motorcyclists”.

“Cost was not a factor in choosing this material – safety is the priority.”

New Zealand Motorcycle Safety Consultants chief executive Alan Kirk, of Masterton, doesn’t agree.

“By the end of the year, 50 motorcyclists will have died on New Zealand roads, MDC seem to be hoping to increase that figure,” Kirk said.

Kirk said, “large road speed signs painted on numerous roads leading to the town centre are skating rink death traps for motorcyclists and will, sooner or later, take the life of a motorcyclist”.

He said nearly all the painted speed signs were located at points where the motorcycle was either unstable or stabilising after cornering and were at risk from the actions of other motorists, such as those reversing out of angle parks.

“Drivers reversing out of angled car parks find it hard to see oncoming cars, let alone motorcycles, and one doing this at one location where a painted skating rink has been put on the road surface will force the motorcyclist to brake hard, his bike will likely slide from under him, and his body will hit the car at the speed at which he applied the brakes.”

Jaquiery said he was confident the signs would retain their grip for several years, and the council would be monitoring their condition.

“They are positioned at the threshold of changes to speed limits to alert people to the new speed,” Jaquiery said.

Kirk said, “while the authorities may claim that the road markings are skid-resistant, after a few hundred cars have crossed them and especially in areas where the car is slowing or speeding up, the markings will become smooth, slippery in the wet, and a real and present danger to every motorcyclist”.

Kirk said this was “just another example” of roading authorities caring very little about how hazardous for motorcyclists they either make or leave roads.

“This is a classic example of the various authorities’ unsafe focus on speed in motor vehicle crashes; they are so busy trying to reduce speeds that they are endangering the lives of vulnerable road users,” Kirk said.

Jaquiery said the new 30kmh limits in Masterton’s town centre were intended to make the roads safer for all users, but would also urge motorists to be vigilant, and always on the look-out for motorcyclists, cyclists, and pedestrians.

Similar markings were put in place at the entrances to Castlepoint and Riversdale where there was a 30kmh speed limit, and Tauweru, where speed limits had been reduced to 80kmh, Jaquiery said.

Jaquiery said the product used for the markings contained bauxite [a type of stone] to aid grip and was used elsewhere to increase grip for vehicles on the roading area leading up to pedestrian crossings.

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