26 Sep 2018

30km/h speed limit eyed for all Auckland CBD roads

9:11 pm on 26 September 2018

Auckland Transport is looking at cutting the speed limit to 30km/h on all central city roads to reduce the alarming rise in deaths and injuries.

280214. Photo Todd Niall / RNZ. Auckland's Queen Street cnr Wellesley.

Most serious crashes in Auckland's CBD has involved pedestrians and cyclists. Photo: RNZ

Most serious crashes in the CBD involved pedestrians and cyclists and AT said a lower speed limit would go a long way to addressing this.

The organisation's executive general manager for service delivery, Andrew Allen, said when New York City's speed limit was lowered to 40km/h, there was a 28 percent reduction in all deaths and a 48 percent drop in pedestrian deaths.

It was statistics like this that AT to investigate whether it's feasible to drop the limit in the city centre to 30km/h.

Mr Allen said it would have a negligible impact on travel times while creating a far safer environment for pedestrians and cyclists.

"We're talking in the order of 18 people a year either being killed or seriously injured in our CBD," he said.

"That's one-and-a-half people a month and I for one would be perfectly willing to pay the price of a two to three-minute journey time impact."

A blanket speed limit reduction for roads within the north western and southern motorways was one of the options being considered by AT.

"That may well be the outcome, that it's a blanket reduction. But we are actually doing an investigation now to ensure that what we do is evidence-based and warranted."

Also targeted for lower speed limits are accident black spots throughout the Auckland region, where 64 people died and and 749 suffered serious injuries on the roads last year.

According to AT, the number of road deaths and injuries in Auckland increased by about triple the rate of the rest of New Zealand over the past three years.

Speeds on some rural roads may also be reduced from 100km/h to 80km/h.

The Automobile Association principal advisor Barney Irvine said lowering speed limits on certain CBD roads made sense, but perhaps not on major arterial routes.

"At face value 30km/h would seem to make sense on a lot of streets in the CBD. But on big, multi-lane roads that connect with the motorway like Hobson St, Nelson St, Symonds St, Fanshaw St, do we want to reduce the speed limits on these roads?

"Or instead, look at improving the roads so that they can be driven safely at the current speeds."

Transport planner Bevan Woodward said many Aucklanders were too scared to cycle or walk in the city because of the traffic dangers.

Lowering the speed limit would make these options far more attractive and may, in fact, reduce congestion by getting people out of their cars.

"This is the great secret that hasn't been tapped into in New Zealand. We think, "Oh, we've got congestion - we need to speed it up, we need to get things moving faster, we need bigger roads and we need to go faster and that will sort out our congestion'," he said.

"No, it won't unfortunately because you can't out-build congestion.

Caroline Perry from the road safety organisation Brake wanted to see 30km/h speed limits in all busy areas.

"We need to see 30km/h limits more widely, in communities and outside schools. Particularly where we see a lot of people walking and cycling," she said.

The Auckland Council's speed management programme is expected to go out for consultation in November.

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