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Roundabout roundup

Four different types of Kerikeri roundabout

As a resident of Kerikeri you will be aware of the growing number of roundabouts in and around the town.

The latest has appeared at the intersection of Skudders and Kapiro Roads and we expect to see another sprout up at the State Highway 10 /Waipapa Road intersection in the (hopefully for those who regularly have long waits there) not too distant future.

The latest addition to Kerikeri roundabouts, is currently sporting weeds but about to become a concrete version

What you may not have paid too much attention to, especially if you are trying to figure out which way the approaching traffic is really going to turn (does a left indicator flashing mean a left turn or straight ahead?), is the “flavour” of each roundabout. Some are grass, others have some landscaping and the newest one is going to be good old “vanilla” concrete. In fact, the potential options for roundabout design are far more extensive than I imagined.

The mini roundabout - no flavour issues here

No issues with lanscaping or concrete with a "mini-roundabout" - a quick paint job and you are in action!

Variety is the spice of life but what is the policy with regard how attractive the roundabout should be? Should we care? If we do care, does that create a safety issue because we are trying to identify plant species on the roundabout rather than keeping an eye on that left turning car which may really going straight ahead? Just in case you think I am being a little frivolous, on average 3 people die and another 200 are injured on roundabouts each year (source NZTA 2005).

Several years ago Vision Kerikeri (VKK) and Rotary were keen to beautify the roundabout at the intersection of SH 10 and Kerikeri Rd. This grass roundabout can at times look as if an agricultural field day event has just decamped from it and is not a positive promotion for our attractive little heritage town just down Kerikeri Rd.

THe grand entrance to Kerikeri

The State Highway (10) version of our roundabouts and yes someone had been ploughing up the grass filling ("hoons" perfecting wheelie skills?).

That roundabout comes under the auspices of NZTA and the challenges of dealing with them, coupled with safety restrictions and construction costs, resulted in VKK and Rotary giving up on the pursuit of that project and moving onto building a walking track up the Wairoa Stream which is also challenging but ultimately more achievable.

The roundabouts in town are the domain of the FNDC who responded to our question on the choice of concrete for the newest roundabout by highlighting a number of issues that need to be considered when deciding on the roundabout “flavour”. These include:

  • Whether or not roundabouts are designed to be partly mounted by long wheel base vehicles. I think we all agree that plants do not respond well to being run over and you have probably seen vehicles mounting a roundabout, especially the one by Countdown. I may have even been guilty of that on occasions and my vehicle does not qualify as having a long wheel base.

  • The safety issues related to maintenance of the landscaping, especially on smaller roundabouts, where traffic flows need to be managed (at a cost) to minimise risks to maintenance workers.

  • That maintenance needs to be regular (again at a cost). If you are a gardener like me, you know that our climate is very conducive to plant growth; leave a shrub for a few months and it becomes tree-like, larger trees block visibility which adds yet another hazard to that transit through a roundabout.

  • There are already large unfilled demands in Kerikeri for sewage and roading, we expect everything unless we are happy with rates hikes.

At present, the CBD and by-pass roundabouts are the only ones that are landscaped and provided for under current maintenance contracts.

A roundabout designed so that long wheel base vehicles can partially mount it

The roundabout by Countdown is designed to be partially mountable by a long base (or any) vehicle.It has minimal landscaping and on the day I took this picture there is no way that I would volunteer or even be paid to maintain it.

In relation to the smaller Skudders/Kapiro Rds roundabout being concrete rather than landscaped, Vision Kerikeri accepts the logic behind the Council’s decision.

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