Dunedin's main street gets Twister makeover, 10km/h speed limit to fight Covid-19

Safety or a waste of ratepayers money?

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A 10km/h speed limit has also been imposed. Source: 1 NEWS

That’s the discussion in Dunedin right now, following the council's decision to paint the city’s main street in blue and red dots.

“It looks like a new version of the game Twister, doesn’t it? Not sure how you’re meant to play it,” says Dunedin business owner Brent Weatherall.

The dots are there to encourage social distancing. Mayor Aaron Hawkins saying it allows pedestrians to step out on to the road to avoid getting too close to oncoming foot traffic.

Sound dangerous? They’ve also installed a 10km/h speed limit for vehicles on the main street to counter the extra foot traffic.

“Ten kilometres is where the evidence tells us that pedestrians start to feel comfortable using the road as a space to move around in. Anything higher and they’re less likely to do that,” Mr Hawkins says.

The decision, though, hasn’t gone down well with many Dunedin residents.

“It’s ridiculous. You try move 10k along there in a car - it’s hardly moving.

“You’re practically stopped,” a local taxi driver says.

Not everyone is against the move, though.

“I think it’s probably not a bad idea and we can try it. That’s the main thing is trying it,” a Dunedin woman told 1 NEWS.

The council voted in favour of the decision by nine votes to four.

Councillor Andrew Whiley, who voted against the move, says the decision doesn’t make a lot of sense.

“If anybody can drive 10 kilometres per hour down George St and actually maintain that speed and feel like they’re going somewhere, I take my hat off to them,” he says.

While Mayor Hawkins says the decision was made to comply with Alert Level 2 restrictions around social distancing, Mr Whiley disagrees. He believes it’s part of the council’s agenda to eventually pedestrianise the town centre.

“Common sense has to prevail,” he says.

The council say the dots and speed limits will stay until physical distancing is no longer required, but can make changes early if they don’t believe it’s working as intended.