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Making public spaces safer for everyone

The new Public Places Bylaw and Traffic Bylaw provides clarification on the use of footpaths, by riders of skateboards and scooters as well as horses, and adds tools to help manage nuisance behaviour on roads. Both bylaws were adopted by Council on 24 April.

The purpose of these two bylaws is to protect the public from nuisance as well as to protect, promote and maintain public health and safety. This includes managing activities in public places and on or near roads, regulating trading and signage in public places, and setting restrictions for road usage, parking and boat launching. 

Several key changes were proposed in the Public Places Bylaw, including: 

  • Preventing horse riding on footpaths in urban areas
  • Prohibiting wheeled recreational devices (WRDs) such as skateboards, scooters and roller blades on the footpaths in town centres
  • Expanding rules to make sure all signage is placed in safe positions and locations
  • Removing some clauses about moving stock as these are covered by Council’s Keeping of Animals Bylaw.

Public consultation on these proposed changes took place from 26 February to 26 March, with 75 submissions received on the Public Places Bylaw. 

Councillors made changes to some of the proposed clauses, after receiving feedback from the public. One of the major shifts was to move from prohibiting the use of WRDs in town centres, to restricting their use so they don't cause damage, annoyance or be an obstruction. The reasons for this change is to to ensure safety and ease of use for pedestrians, but also not restrict active modes of transport in and around our town centres.

Another amendment is to the clause relating to the riding of horses on footpaths in urban areas of the district, defined as areas with a speed limit of 70km/h or less. Rather than the original proposal which would have prohibited horses being ridden on footpaths and berms, the councillors decided to instead allow the riding of horses on grass berms in areas with a speed limit of 70km/h or less. They are still restricted from riding on any paved footpaths in these urban areas. This amendment, although small, is important in terms of impact and was made after a number of submitters expressed concerns around accessibility and particularly safety if they were required to be riding on roads.

There were a number of changes made to the Traffic Bylaw, but the major ones were:

  • The addition of a Light Motor Vehicle Prohibitions clause and register
  • Inclusion of clauses for Damage to Roads and Damage to Signs.

“A bylaw is the most appropriate way to address the problems we see in our district”, says Megan May, General Manager Service Delivery. Traffic provisions were previously included in the Public Places Bylaw however the decision was made to create a separate Traffic Bylaw.

The new Traffic Bylaw includes a Light Motor Vehicle Prohibitions clause which means Council can restrict vehicles weighing less than 3500kg from using certain roads between 9pm and 4am, unless drivers can prove they have legitimate business.

“The clause gives Police more powers to issue infringements and move people on if they are gathering on roads or creating problems,” says May.

“Frequent street racing activities cause significant disruption. Not only does it disturb residents but it costs ratepayers a significant amount to repair and clean up the damage they leave behind.”

“We received 47 submissions, with nearly 70% in support of the proposed change,” says May. 

Problem streets will be identified over time using a variety of evidence sources, then added to the Bylaw schedule through a Council resolution, and signage would be put in place on streets to let people know of the restrictions. The restrictions would not apply to legitimate road users, such as people who own property or live there, their visitors or those who are on the road with legitimate reason, such as a maintenance service, taxi or Uber. 

Other Councils throughout New Zealand, including Waipa District Council and Hamilton City Council, have similar provisions in their bylaws which allows for a regional approach to the issue by Police. 

Both bylaws can be found here: