22 Oct 2019

AT votes to lower speed limits on many Auckland roads

6:16 pm on 22 October 2019

Speed limits will be lowered on hundreds of Auckland roads next year, with drivers limited to 30 kilometres per hour in most of the CBD.

Auckland CBD Aerial view

The proposals include a new 30 km/h speed limit for all of downtown Auckland. Photo: 123rf

Exceptions are Nelson, Hobson and Fanshawe Streets, which will drop to 40 kilometres per hour.

Fourteen town centres are also getting 30 kilometre speed limits, including places like Orewa.

While speeds on rural roads will also be cut down, decisions on 20 of those roads will now be deferred.

The Auckland Transport board made the decision to lower speed limits in their offices in central Auckland this afternoon.

Auckland Transport's chief transport operations officer Andrew Allen said he personally thought the proposals could be stronger.

"From a management perspective, we feel that we have taken an appropriate response to the issue in front of us," he said.

"Too aggressive? don't think so. Not aggressive enough? My personal opinion is probably not aggressive enough."

Sixty-four people died on Auckland roads in 2017 with nearly 750 other people seriously injured.

That is a 78 percent increase in road deaths in three years.

Auckland Transport said the estimated economic and social costs of death and serious injuries in Auckland is $1.2 billion every year.

Of the more than 11,700 public submissions on the speed there were slightly more in favour of keeping the status quo.

But executive general manager stakeholder, Wally Thomas, said those supporting the change represented large groups of people.

"Those raw numbers - what they don't show are the very supportive who represent very large constituencies. Examples being thirteen local boards who represent 870,000 people were generally supportive, Regional Public Health Service representing all Aucklanders were supportive of slower speeds," he said.

There were three options for the board to consider - option one was to defer the decision, option two was to implement the entire proposal, and option three was to make some exceptions.

Freight and post businesses were strongly opposed to the 30 kilometre per hour speed limit on Hobson, Nelson and Fanshawe Streets - saying it would slow travel times and hurt productivity.

But group manager for the network management, Randhir Karma, said those street speeds needed to be lowered.

"Because Nelson, Fanshawe and Hobson are three of our highest risk corridors in the city centre, leaving the speed limits at 50 kilometres per hour - we essentially lost up to 20 percent of any benefit on the network for the city centre," he said.

In the end, the Auckland Transport board voted unanimously for option three - allowing a 40 kilometre per hour limit for those major city roads.

Chair Lester Levy hoped more people will now be kept safe.

"What we're indicating today is that everybody, no matter what you use for your mobility, deserves protection and to be kept as safe as possible," he said.

The new rules will come into effect in June next year.

Check which roads are affected on AT's interactive map

Earlier, Barb Cuthbert from Bike Auckland said she hoped Auckland Transport would adopt all of the proposed reduced speeds.

"I don't want to end up with a situation like we have now in Auckland, whereby Ponsonby Road is 40 km/h, Queen Street is 30 km/h, the roads around them are 50 km/h - it's a hotchpotch," she told Nine to Noon.

But transport firm Freightways chief executive Mark Troughear did not want speed limits in the central city to be lowered.

"The information we've got - and this is from GPS tracking vehicles in and out and around the CBD - says that if you implement a 30 km/h speed limit you'll cause a considerable [increase] in transit time, and that leads to a pretty chunky loss in productivity," he told Nine to Noon.

Auckland Transport's board of directors made the decision this afternoon.