LYNDA VAN KEMPEN
Safi Foale’s swift problem-solving abilities would put many a dithering politician to shame.
The 10-year-old Cromwell girl identified a safety concern in her hometown, came up with a possible remedy and has now launched a petition to address the issue.
Safi lives at the western end of McNulty Rd, on the outskirts of the town, and likes to bike or walk the kilometre to her school, Goldfields Primary.
She has to travel along McNulty Rd – a busy road used by heavy vehicles – and wants the speed limit there reduced from 70kmh to 50kmh.
“The speed limit was OK in the old days when our end of town was just paddocks but now there are more houses with lots of school pupils living in our area, many of them younger than me.”
This prompted her to alert Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan about the problem earlier this year.
Now she is following up with a petition seeking a change in the speed limit and almost 100 people have signed so far.
“Children should be encouraged to walk or bike to school but this is putting them off; it’s too dangerous.
“Surely, walking or biking is good for us and for the environment if it means fewer cars on the road, so we should be doing everything to encourage it.”
Safi is a keen mountain biker, loves to keep active and wants to make the trip to school safer for others as well as herself.
“I’m just trying to make things better for my community, to give something back.”
She and her parents shifted to Cromwell from New Plymouth three years ago for business and lifestyle reasons.
Her mother, Jolanda, said after using a bus to get to school in the city, Safi was excited at the prospect of being able to walk or bike to school in Cromwell.
“But it’s becoming a more dangerous trip all the time,” Mrs Foale said.
“With all the residential development going on in the area, new houses constructed and more planned, along with residential subdivisions, the speed limit, set at 70kmh, is over the top.
“A lot of young kids around our way are being dropped off at school, as it’s too dangerous.
“There’s good greenways in town but we don’t have greenways or footpaths or pedestrian crossings out where we are, so maybe that’s another factor to consider.”
Safi is pleased the feedback to her idea has been supportive and the petition will close at the end of this month.
She will deliver it to the Central Otago District Council or Cromwell Community Board, as the road is a council one.
Central Otago Deputy Mayor and Cromwell Community Board chairman Neil Gillespie said the board would discuss Safi’s concerns when it received the petition.
“We’ll need to seek advice from the people who understand such things as the impact of lowering the speed limit or any other measures to improve road safety.”