Planter boxes, speed humps, street art, chicanes and painted kerb buildouts.

These recent additions to streets on the western side of Whakatāne aim to make our town safer, more attractive and more liveable – especially for pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable users like people on mobility scooters.

The project, called Wairaka Innovating Streets, started as a temporary trial with 90 per cent funding from the Waka Kotahi national transport agency. Whakatāne District Council has been working on the project with Ngāti Hokopū and local residents.

Now, the council is asking communities to share their views through a public survey that will help guide decisions about whether the project should continue.

The council’s General Manager Infrastructure, Bevan Gray, said the installations had been in place long enough for people to get to know them and form views on what should be done with them in future.

“Broadly speaking, there are four options,” he said.

“We can remove the installations, modify them, leave them as they are, or plan on making them permanent with more durable materials.

“We’re keen to hear the views of our communities on all of these options.”

Innovating Streets has brought a new look to Whakatāne, with the planter boxes and street art in particular helping to brighten up the township.

Some Innovating Streets areas are proving to be safer for vulnerable road users.

On Harvey Street, the average speed had dropped by 6kph and the number of people exceeding the 50kph speed limit dropped from 4 per cent to 0.1 per cent.[SM1] 

Similar results were seen at the Heads, with the average speed dropping 10kph and only 0.6 per cent of vehicles exceeding the 30kph speed limit.

The survey is available through the Kōrero Mai consultation page on the council’s website.

The council is also planning to gather public feedback at a barbecue at Mataatua Reserve on Thursday, 11 November, 4pm-6pm, depending on weather and Covid levels.

The survey closes at 5pm on November 23.