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Thursday, 4 September 2014

OKOKA ROAD NOT OK, OK, A?

For decades Waiheke's friendly bus-drivers have obligingly used as an
unofficial bus-stop the foot of Okoka Road, a side-road off O'Brien Road
(the main road into the Rocky Bay Village). There is no footpath anywhere in
O'Brien Road, and never should be there, because it would be prohibitively
expensive and would ruin that lovely bush environment.

Most passengers want to go to houses in Okoka Road or in roads off it or in
the nearby part of O'Brien Road, but if they a forced to alight at the
official bus-stop further up the road they are then forced to use O'Brien
Road as a footpath, which means they will have to be walking on the other
side of the crest of the hill on a semi-blind bend, perhaps laden down with
groceries or parcels, which will make them a target a metre and a half wide.
There are no houses anywhere near the official bus stop, so few people want
it compared with the numbers who want to alight at Okoka Road.

Obviously, it is much safer to let passengers off at the entrance to a quiet
side-road, where for added safety they can wait for a while in a parking
spot at the side, than be forced to walk along the main road. And while they
are alighting at Okoka Road they are kept safe by the bus, because for those
20-or-so seconds it will be blocking both O'Brien Road and Okoka Road,
bringing all traffic to a stand-still.

O'Brien Road is so narrow that it does not matter where it stops it will
block the road, so it makes no difference to traffic in that road, but it
makes a great deal of difference to passengers, both adults and children
getting off school buses, particularly when it is wet, or dark, or both, or
when they have a lot of stuff to carry, as islanders often do.

The safe, considerate practice of using the foot of Okoka Road has been
going on for decades, but a new manager at the Waiheke Bus Company decided
for no good reason to prohibit it. So now people are forced many times a
day, every day, to be in the least safe situation. They are forbidden the
most safe one.

Why? Because some time ago an impatient fool of a motorist could not wait
for the bus to move on and pulled out on to the wrong side of the road to
pass it and nearly hit a cop car head on. But the cop (who is no longer on
the island), instead of going crook at the fool, threatened the bus driver
with a hefty fine, and disqualification for weeks if he ever did that again.
The cop had no right to say that, he was wrong in law, wrong in sense, and
wrong to let anger and his blue shirt dictate to an innocent bus driver who
was only doing his job in the best possible way. But the new manager,
irrationally, chose to side with that coppish wrong-headedness.

Worse, an Auckland Transport bureaucrat has since chosen for equally
spurious reasons to back that dictatorial manager.

Must we wait till someone is injured or killed before those people see
reason and let drivers return to best practice?