Kapiti Observer : January 16th 2012
6 KAPITI OBSERVER, JANUARY 16, 2012 LETTERS LETTERS RULES We welcome your letters to the editor but they must contain the writer's name, address and phone number. Pseudonyms are not accepted. Letters longer the 200 words are unlikely to be printed. We reserve the right to edit for brevity or sense. Send to: Editor, Kapiti Observer, Box 110 Paraparaumu, fax 298 2073 or email editor@kapiti- observer.co.nz Better to emulate education winners I was pleased to see the article (Lessons to be learned from Finland, January 9). It is in sharp contrast to some of the recent strident writing on the subject of the failings of our educational system, particularly around the time of the recent election. If we look at the 2009 PISA educational rankings, comparing the success rates in literacy, mathematics and science of 64 countries, we rank very highly -- fourth overall. As Gordon Campbell writes, one that ranks higher is Finland; another is Singapore. Both have highly-trained teachers who are given on-going professional support; both governments work collaboratively with teacher groups to design and deliver effective learning; both are responsive in identifying children who are having difficulty and targeting sufficient resources to support them. Both governments recognise that poverty is a key determinant of educational failure and have long-term strategies to address this. Compare this with for example the United States, where government and teachers are at loggerheads, the media are critical, policies are punitive -- and their ranking is 17th and dropping. Or the UK, which has broadly similar policies and ranks 25th. I would hope that the first criterion of any educational policy is whether it works -- especially as it is the future of our children at stake. Surely it would make sense for us to learn from and emulate winners -- such as Finland and Singapore -- than to seek to emulate losers? Bruce Henderson Te Horo Beach Lights, underpass needed in Otaki Traffic on State Highway 1 is often delayed for significant periods at Otaki Railway. Vehicles back up kilometres north and south of the town. Access to SH1 is blocked and passage from Mill Rd to Rahui Rd is impeded. Delays are caused by inconsiderate behaviour of people using the pedestrian crossing near Arthur St. Use of the crossing is commendable, if it is in accordance with the Road Code; thanks to those who do so. Far too often people step off the pavement while cars are stopped to allow previous pedestrians to cross, or as cars are close to the crossing. Many people make little effort to clear the crossing quickly. Resulting frustration about the delays and the arrogant and ignorant pedestrian behaviour creates a very bad impression of Otaki. Retailers must suffer and as trucks are required to make many gear changes that is a real cost to us all. If traffic on SH1 is held up to the extent seen on recent holiday weekends, it is fair that pedestrians face some delays too. NZ Transport Agency and Kapiti Coast District Council must take action now to provide a permanent solution. An underpass, or pedestrian lights would eliminate the problem. In the meantime we could do as school pupils do, with signs for effective and safe management of foot and vehicle traffic. I ll take a turn. Jan Richmond Otaki Engineering won't change behaviour As we rush toward rules and engineering solutions to road safety (Road changes stir debate, January 9), we risk missing the other half of the equation. Talk of barriers and other controls satisfies the need for action and such measures will help. However, they are not the solution to the fundamental behavioural problems that are the catalyst for much of the carnage we have recently experienced. There seems to be a reluctance to acknowledge a cause that we all know to be true -- ego and arrogance. Most of us have experienced the behaviour of people whose egos and competitive arrogance lead to dangerous behaviour. People with a lot of their nature invested in what kind of car they drive; people who speed up in the passing lanes to make it difficult for you to pass, people who tailgate to intimidate other drivers; people who will insist on overtaking dangerously to get ahead ; people who are above indicating and believe it is up to others to look out for them. So bring in the engineers and the cringing rule makers but let s not kid ourselves that it s all about the roads or that we can solve a behavioural problem with an engineering solution. Crispin Garden-Webster Paraparaumu Beach Drivers kill, not bends The Killer bend headlines in the Kapiti Observer (Killer bend claims two more lives, January 6) and Dominion Post (January 5) are rather an overstatement. My husband, myself and family have been travelling through that area for over 60 years, with never any problems. We realise traffic travels faster, also there is much more of it now. The fault is the killer driver not the killer bend . Molly Keene Paraparaumu Passing lanes still needed So NZTA are going to tinker with State Highway 1 between Waikanae and the Otaihanga turn off (Killer bend claims two more lives, January 5). Typical. They act like spoilt brats who have resisted and delayed, at all opportunities, to do what is blatantly obvious to anyone with any common sense (put in a median barrier down the middle of SH1). They retaliate in the name of safety by intending to reduce the speed and close the passing lanes permanently by March this year. Installation of the median barrier would have saved lives and from what I have seen in the last incident, would have discouraged the reported behaviour and prevented the collision which occurred. Regardless of which solution is eventually implemented for the road in the west (autobahn or two lane western local road), the median barrier is still required on SH1 now. However, we also still require NZTA to leave the current system so the passing lanes are still available so that local slow (Ma and Pa Kettle) traffic do not hold up the other traffic causing undue frustration and aggravation. So it s one step forward and two steps back. We all want progress, but if you re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn...in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive. -- C S Lewis. Charlie Wilson Waikanae Choice between ducks or humans How much more proof do the anti expressway brigade need, following the recent tragic deaths at Otaihanga, that the current State Highway 1 is past its use by date as a main route? Can they now see that an expressway, unimpeded by bends and bottlenecks, private property accesses, traffic lights and side road intersections, can be the only logical solution for dealing with fast flowing high volume traffic? The existing SH1 needs to have all the requested median barriers installed at the prime accident sites, and the speed limit permanently lowered to a local road status. Ultimately, when the expressway is built, this local road needs to have a 70/50kmh speed limit from Raumati Rd to north of Waikanae. I believe NZTA has assessed the value of a person s life at around $4 million plus. That should easily cover the cost of barriers at Otaihanga. My experience of this intersection is that it is deceptive for southbound drivers, as the speed of oncoming traffic is distorted by the shape and form of the gradient and curvature of the road, giving the impression that there is sufficient time for overtaking or making a turn into Otaihanga Rd. For those who continue to go on about the threat to bird life posed by the expressway, I suggest that they consider what choice they would make between a few ducks and a family member, when it comes to living or dying. Gary Bigelow Waikanae Expressway 'safe, clean, efficient' Those against the expressway continually challenge supporters to advance their arguments for it. Here are mine. 1. Safety. A properly built modern road, with median barriers, is a safer road. 2. Pollution. All vehicles will be more fuel efficient if they can travel at a steady 100kmh. 3. Wasted time. While engines are running, inefficiently due to delays, someone is driving those vehicles. 4. Economic development. We all know of people who just don t come here in the weekends. They don t want to waste their time in traffic jams at Otaki, or getting back into Wellington. With freer roads we become an ideal tourist destination for the people of the cities that surround us. 5. Economic efficiency. Tell the courier drivers and people and businesses waiting for goods to arrive that it is efficient for them to sit in traffic. Taxi drivers have to tell people to allow an extra 30 minutes for a trip to Wellington Airport, just in case . Ask why we have no large goods/delivery businesses here? 6. Family life. Tell commuters it is good for them to sit in traffic at Pukerua Bay, every night, sometimes for an hour or more, longer on Fridays, public holidays, accident nights. Tell them how great it is to leave home at 7am and get to work at 8.30am -- mostly. And please don t jump on the old tell them all to get the train bandwagon. They won t all fit, and many of them need their cars for work, for errands and because they travel at flexible times and because trains don t go where they need to go. Ever tried to catch a train from Otaki Beach to Seatoun? Expressways. Not pretty, far from perfect, but necessary when we only have about five million people. Public transport would be great if we had enough people to support it. We don t. Our communities are too spread, our population too small. Councillor Ross Church No more 'pin in book' estimates Once again the Kapiti Coast District Council has failed to get even close to an accurate costing before they have approved major projects (Huge budget blowouts, December 15). It seems incredible to me that the person who checks the estimates still has a job and it indicates the contempt the councillors have for the ratepayers. While the over expenditure for the council building is bad it pales into insignificance when set against the aquatic centre which has gone from one poor estimate to another and looks like being a white elephant as it is likely to lose money annually assuming that when filled, it does not sink as has happened to other pools in New Zealand. I was in the New South Wales city of Port Macquarie in 2010 and the state government had just sacked the council for over expenditure on an entertainment centre and in its place put in an administrator, a situation that the locals soundly approved of. At least the KCDC should halt all work on the pool and council building and conduct a full enquiry which should examine the competency of both the staff and the executives and eliminate this cost plus mentality and run the council like a business. Estimates must be properly costed and must be free of the pin in a race book approach to estimating and further the enquiry should stiffen up the tender processes. In a time of fiscal constraints the ratepayers must be treated to a very low or nil increase for the next two years. 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