23 Jan 2020

A grieving Ashburton father has presented a petition to Christchurch City Council seeking safety improvements along the Port Hills' Summit Road.

Jason Alexander’s two teenaged daughters, Tayla, 17, and Sunmara, 16, died as a result of injuries they sustained when the car they were travelling in crashed off the Summit Road in late November 2019.

Today Mr Alexander and Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown presented a petition, with 6242 signatures on it, which calls on the Council to make Summit Road safer by installing more sturdy barriers.

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Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown (left) and Jason Alexander (centre) present their petition to the Council.

The prayer of the petition also calls for the road to be closed at night to stop “needless racing or speeding around these hills causing injury and death’’.

The petition also says the Government should make defensive driving courses compulsory for young drivers.

Addressing the Council this morning, Mr Alexander said he wanted to make sure no other parent had to experience the nightmare he was facing.

“I am doing this because unfortunately our younger generation are using this road as a place to burn rubber, so to speak, at the top of a hill and then race back down to the bottom with undoubtedly bald tires. And it is not just a few, it is many. I am also doing this for the safety of everyone who uses this road, today, tomorrow and future generations.

“The Summit Road has always been a dangerous road and us, as the elders, need to put the measures in place to make it safe because it is not a matter of if it will happen again, it will happen again,’’ Mr Alexander said.

Expressing the Council’s deepest sympathy, Mayor Lianne Dalziel told Mr Alexander she knew it was painful for him to appear in front of the Council but “every single one of us understands why a father must do everything that he can to make sure other parents don’t go through the experience that you have had to endure.

“We will do all we can to help,’’ the Mayor said.

The Council has referred the petition to the Urban Development and Transport Committee to consider.

The Council has made efforts previously to improve safety on Summit Road. During 2016 a range of options to discourage anti-social road user activity were investigated and discussed with the Police and the Summit Road Protection Authority.

As a result of those discussions the Council consulted the public about prohibiting vehicle access to the Summit Road between 10pm and 5am Thursday to Monday and on public holidays.

However, the majority of the 865 public submissions received on the proposed night-time restrictions opposed them. After considering the public feedback a Hearings Panel recommended the Council drop the proposal. In March 2018 the Council accepted the Panel’s recommendation but asked staff to review the speed limit of Summit Road.

As a result of that review, the speed limit on the Summit Road, from Godley Head to Gebbies Pass Road, was lowered last year to 60kmh.