Reducing town centres' speed pointless, traffic engineer tells council

2:56 pm on 18 November 2020

Slower speeds in Marlborough's town centres would result in more frustration for motorists, residents told a council hearing.

30km speed sign

(file pic) Photo: 123RF

Parts of Picton and Blenheim's town centres are proposed to drop from 50km/h to 30km/h zones, while rural road speeds could reduce in some cases from 100km/h to 80km/h or even lower.

Retired traffic engineer Chris Davies, who lives in Picton, told a Marborough District Council hearing panel yesterday that lowering speed limits bunched traffic, which increased frustration and therefore accidents.

"People also aren't focused at those speeds," he said.

While speed bumps on Picton's High St prevented drivers from travelling more than 30km/h, this was not the case on Wellington St, set to drop from 50km/h to 30km/h.

"There's no point to it at all ... Leave it alone," he said.

Resident Sheira Hudson thought slower speed limits in Picton's town centre would be an added stress and distraction.

"Spending too much time looking at that speedometer ... and getting whacked with a huge fine because you went 33km/h would just add a whole lot of misery to world that already has enough ... it's a disconnect, I think," she said.

Lower speeds safer, 'more pleasant'

However, Nelson Marlborough District Health Board's Jane Murray supported the proposed 30km/h town limits, saying speed reductions increased survival rates.

"Lower speeds also reduce the noise and the emissions in the environment meaning that the street environment is more pleasant. This encourages people to walk and cycle, which also has added health benefits," she said.

The council's website said the number of deaths and serious injuries in Marlborough rose from 13 in 2013 to 37 in 2017, with speed being a contributing factor in one in five crashes.

A total of 560 submissions were lodged on the council's review of speed limits along local roads before it was split into two, starting with the most dangerous roads, while it waited on changes to national speed limit laws.

A second round of consultation on its most dangerous roads - such as Alabama Rd, Hunter Rd, Seymour St, Alfred St - and roads put forward by submitters - like Battys Rd, David St, Old Renwick Rd, and Picton and Blenheim's town centres - received 42 submissions.

Battys Rd residents John and Wendy Gray this week asked the Marlborough District Council to reduce speeds along Battys Rd on behalf of their neighbours.

Residents John and Wendy Gray this week asked the Marlborough District Council to reduce speeds along Battys Rd on behalf of their neighbours. Photo: LDR / Chloe Ranford

Elizabeth Phillips told the hearing while she supported speed drops in Blenheim's town centre, she felt Beaver Rd speeds would be better obeyed at 40km/h, not 30km/h.

Beaver Rd was part of a contentious cycleway which had seen give ways changed, street markings painted, a speed bump installed, and concrete barriers cut back.

The 30km/h speed limit put down to make drivers travel the same speed as cyclists had led to people tailgating, Phillips said.

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