Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I can see the story now; "the 2008 Coast to Coast course will be radically re-designed to improve accessibility." It's not out of the question if yesterdays report is escalated.

The Federated Mountain Clubs of New Zealand have quite rightly pointed out that DoC is "attempting to make the mountains safe instead of encouraging people to make decisions." DoC want to highlight the risks of tramping with signage placed numerously and conveniently along trails.

Issues of signage and safety have emerged following the deaths of two inexperienced foreign trampers in recent years. Interestingly the news source claims that family members (in England) "helped identify the risks of climbing in the Mount Aicken area". Clever people those English.

This article on sheep rustling in Devon gives an indication of the concepts of scale and remoteness held by some English. So yes, the New Zealand back country would seem an extraordinarily inhospitable place for many. But it's no basis for installing traffic lights along the Mingha-Deception.

Naturally we have sympathy for the families impacted, and for DoC's direct role in reflecting that. But nanny state criticism has grown during the current Labour Government term. Increased track signage seems another "there there my dear" intervention. According to the Mountain Clubs

"such changes have the potential to reduce, rather than improve, safety for inexperienced people, while diminishing the quality of the mountain environment for more experienced users. High-quality tracks can lull the unwise and unwary into a false sense of security."
It's just as well that DoC have no mandate for signage in Auckland retail areas.

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