Lights hit wrong note for muso


A blind musician says he’s lost his independence because of Queenstown’s first set of traffic lights.

Local identity Mark Wilson lives on Ballarat Street and is well used to crossing Stanley St at a nearby pedestrian crossing.

Wife Emma Wilson says: “We were expecting the lights were going to make it easier for Mark … only to discover he can’t actually cross the road on his own at all.”

She says her husband didn’t know where to go at the weekend and “he ended up wandering off
into the path of oncoming traffic”. 

Part of the problem is the audio signals aren’t loud enough or long enough to guide him across the street.

Emma says: “Being in a wide open space, with no points of reference, auditory or physical, is the worst thing you can do to a blind person.”

Mark says his complaint isn’t just for him – other blind people might move to the town or be born there, given Queenstown’s rapid growth. He’d like a physical guide, for example raised crossing dots, to be put into the road to give him a sensory aid.

“With the traffic and foot congestion, it’s just got to be safe. That’s all I’m asking for, is to be as safe as possible in order that I can be as independent as possible.”

New Zealand Transport Agency transport planning manager Tony Sizemore says he’ll consider the request. Adjustments will be made to the signals this week.

Sizemore reminded motorists to give way to pedestrians on a crossing, even if they have a green light.

“Some red light running has been observed since the lights were switched on and the police will be asked to undertake enforcement as priorities allow.”

Otago Daily Times