Contrasting assignments for members of Drivesouth team

By David Thomson on Sat, 23 Feb 2013

As you may have noticed, the new Subaru Forester receives top billing in this weekend's Drivesouth, with Catherine Pattison taking a short break from parenting duties to represent us at the vehicle's New Zealand launch.

Catherine, who is lucky enough to be based in Hawea these days, was a natural choice location-wise to attend the launch, which ran out of Queenstown and took in some of the spectacular back roads and accompanying vistas that make Central Otago such a motoring paradise.

While Catherine, along with a dozen or more other writers from around the country, were enjoying their backblocks motoring, I was starting out on a very different kind of motoring adventure: 95% urban, driving a vehicle round Dunedin that has - as you will find out in a few weeks' time -enabled me to pass a very satisfying personal record for environmentally friendly driving.

Amid all that urban driving, it was impossible not to notice the transformation that occurs on North Dunedin streets as the students flock back to town.

Skateboards (riders helmetless, of course) return in large numbers, there are more scooters (both motorised and foot-propelled) about, and the proportion of cyclists showing scant regard for the road code in the same part of town has rocketed.

Don't forget the pedestrians, either: vast numbers crossing the major thoroughfares in the area, with a fair proportion using designated crossing points and ''green men'' only as approximate guides as to where and when to cross the road (the later at night, the more approximate those guidelines become).

I could easily have a little grumble at this point, but students will be students, and the best thing we can do as motorists is to slow down in this area and be extra vigilant. Besides, there is something else happening on North Dunedin roads that has raised my ire more than student traffic behaviour: it's the resealing of the southbound one-way system at the Northern Oaks ground.

North Dunedin is at its absolute quietest through December, January, and even the first couple of weeks of February. So why on earth did those who schedule repairs on our state highway network decide to carry out a major resealing of the southbound one-way system at the very time near on 20,000 students are returning to Dunedin?

Finally, I can't sign off this weekend without referring to the colourful ''intersections'' postcard that has made an appearance in Dunedin letterboxes of late, and earned a fair mention in the Otago Daily Times via Dave Cannan's The Wash column.

I'm all for promoting thought and discussion about road safety at intersections which was, I understand, the intention of the card. I have to report, though, it did no such thing in our household, unless you count the comment our son made when he found it in the letterbox (''this is a bit weird, Mum'').

Mum passed it to me and, after a cursory glance, I opted for immediate lodgement in the infinite capacity, non-retrievable (and these days recyclable) filing system. All going well, agents of the same folk who produced the card will take it off our hands next Friday, when said filing system
- green in colour with a yellow lid - is emptied on the normal fortnightly cycle.

David Thomson