Councillor Andy Foster, Chair of Wellington City Council’s Transport and Urban Development Committee, says the proposal is part of the Council’s strategy to improve pedestrian safety in the CBD and make Wellington more cycle-friendly.
He says the proposal would extend the 30km/h limit that already applies along the Golden Mile to a wider area. As well as asking the public whether or not they agree with a 30km/h speed limit, the Council is also keen to hear views on the boundaries of the proposed speed limit.
“Whether they are cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists and drivers, the safety of all road users is important so I urge the public to have their say.”
On the main arterial roads the speed limit will stay at 50km/h – on the harbour quays, Cable Street, part of Wakefield Street, on Vivian Street and Kent and Cambridge terraces. Most other central city streets – around the Courtenay Place and Cuba Street precincts, part of The Terrace and in the vicinity of Lambton Quay to the railway station – would change to 30km/h.
Cr Foster says, despite public perceptions, crashes in the central city aren’t restricted to the Golden Mile and most do not involve buses.
“Crashes happen throughout the CBD involving cars, pedestrians and cyclists. Having a lower speed limit will cut the number of crashes overall and reduce the risk of people being seriously injured or killed.
“For cyclists, one of the main things we can do to make cycling a safer and more pleasant experience is to reduce vehicle speeds in our narrow city streets.”
On streets other than the Golden Mile, from 2008–2012 there were 531 crashes in central Wellington, with 117 resulting in injuries. Of the 57 crashes involving pedestrians, 55 resulted in injuries, and 27 of the 37 crashes involving cyclists caused injuries.
In a crash, the chances of surviving are greatly improved at lower speeds. If a pedestrian or cyclist is hit by a vehicle travelling at 30km/h, they have a 90 percent chance of surviving. At 45km/h, this comes down to 50 percent.
Stopping distances are also reduced – at 50km/h a car takes about 28 metres to stop whereas at 30km/h this comes down to 13 metres. “In a busy city street with people crossing the road or cycling, that 15 metres could make all the difference.”
Cr Foster says a 30km/h speed limit in Wellington would be in line with the national road safety strategy, Safer Journeys, which includes the principle of shared responsibility – from the people who design the roads to everyone who uses them – and the proposal is also supported by the Police, NZ Transport Agency and ACC.
“In Christchurch, the city centre will have a safer speed limit and Auckland is planning the same for new suburbs. Many cities in Europe, the USA and Australia have already put lower speed limits in place or are doing so.”
Once consultation is completed and submissions have been considered, the Council’s Transport and Urban Development Committee will discuss the final proposal at their May meeting, before it goes to the full Council.
If adopted, and the $250k funding is approved, it is expected the new speed limit would come into effect in late 2014.
Submissions can be made online, emailed or posted. Copies of the proposal and Freepost submission form can be picked up from the Council’s service centre on Wakefield Street and libraries, otherwise phone 499 4444.
Members of the public have until 5pm, Sunday 9 March to voice their opinions on the safer speed limit.