Retailers rebel against barricades
Fri, 05 Oct 2012 6:10p.m.
By Emma Jolliff
The barriers placed along Wellington's Willis St to prevent pedestrians getting hit by buses are back in the news again, but this time for a different reason.
Retailers say they're killing their businesses, and some are losing thousands of dollars a week.
Arsel Aslam has owned Wholly Bagels on Willis St for 18 months. But in the last two months he's laid off three staff.
He says the barriers installed to prevent jaywalking are to blame.
“It's impacting us about $4000 a week,” he says.
And he's not the only one angry with the council. The barriers were put up in July as a temporary measure, after NZ Bus director Tim Brown was struck by a bus. A year earlier another pedestrian was killed along the same stretch.
Wellington City councillor Ian McKinnon says the barriers have done what they were supposed to do.
“We certainly haven't had an accident since they've been up,” he says.
But Mr Aslam is tired of waiting for action from the council.
“About 5am this morning a couple of us got together and moved the barriers because it's impacting the business and we want to keep the doors open,” he says.
They moved 12 barriers which, according to one shop owner, has already made a difference.
“Our turnover's come up by 15 [percent] on our normal Friday turnover so it's great,” says Mojo Cafe owner Dale Rangihaeata.
First Retail director Chris Wilkinson says the gap in the fence could now stay.
“It may be that they decide to leave a gap there and test the water, I think many retailers are hoping for that to happen,” he says.
The council wants to replace the barriers with street furniture like seats, rubbish bins and bike racks to keep people off the road.
But that could take months, which is no help to struggling retailers in the meantime.
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9/10/2012 4:03:27 p.m.
Gary - I think you may be missing the point, if the shop owners can't make sales, and therefore money, employed people loose their jobs. Employers don't pay their staff wages from a magical money tree out the back of their shop. The problem mostly lies in adult responsibility and sensibility when crossing the roads, and perhaps bus drivers being a bit careless.
6/10/2012 1:49:38 p.m.
Well I can understand why the businesses are concerned. The bus lane changes made by the WCC have been a disaster. The Council was told during the consultation period that the changes proposed would be dangerous to pedestrians but they ignored this. The WCC wasted $11 million on ripping out Manners Mall and the temporary barriers have been an after thought designed to fix the poor design inherent in the new route. It’s no wonder that the WCC is looking to fix the problem they created by means other than reinstating the Mall and changing the bus route back to what it was originally. The WCC has egg on its face and it’s no coincidence that Ian MacKinnon has spoken on behalf of the Council rather than Andy Foster, the man responsible for the bus route disaster, who has chosen to hide behind MacKinnon’s skirts.
6/10/2012 10:36:27 a.m.
How could someone criticise those business owners? It must be hard enough as it is in retail - let alone with metal barriers up on the street. I've seen them and its very off-putting. The buses are the problem. They should self-impose a 20kph limit on this stretch - and pedestrians just need to take some responsibility. I for, one will be purposefully shopping in that area now I know about their struggles.
6/10/2012 8:00:15 a.m.
I'm pleased those barriers are coming down and feel sorry for all the retailers affected. I walk that street every day and its definitely quieter since they went up. To criticise the retailers is very short-sighted.
What does need to be changed is driver behaviour. In many cases, buses speed up to make the lights and because they are so close to the footpath its scary. Go back to two lanes which would mean at least some space between pedestrians and buses.
5/10/2012 8:21:33 p.m.
These three shop owners are only thinking of their one pockets. Soon another person will be hit by a bus due to the barriers having been moved and these men should be held accountable! So what would you have, loss of money or loss of life? I have had many near-misses with pedestrians who jay-walk along this road and I am glad the barriers are there!
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