Slower speed limits - New Zealand case studies

Guidance on implementing slower speed limits:

New Zealand case studies

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All local Councils should now have a Speed Limits Bylaw detailing all of the different speed limits set in their District. This Bylaw usually has a Schedule or Register of the specific locations where each limit has been enacted. Accurate details in this Bylaw are necessary for any speed limits to be enforceable by Police.


School Slow Speed Zones

School zones


Christchurch has 23 slow speed zones covering 30 schools.
These include static signs warning of the pending electronic signs and 40km flashing signs that are activated during school arrival (8.30am-9am) and departure (3.00-3.20pm).
Christchurch City Council (CCC) staff consider quantitative and qualitative research found electronic signs worked better than static signs. CCC Staff looked at international research and practice and found the trend was away from static signs towards variable speed electronic signs.
40km rather than 30km or 20km were put in as it was felt that this would be more politically acceptable.
Costs are between $30,000 to $80,000 (higher if intersecting roads, meaning more signs are needed). The cost includes the whole system: consultation, electronic signage, and static signs at the end of the zones).
Abley Transportation Consultants are currently considering the impact of universal Christchurch City wide 40km zones at all schools at all times. A report is due to be put before Christchurch City Council by October 2010.

Joy Kingsbury-Aitken, Road Safety Co-ordinator, Schools, Christchurch City Council
(03) 941 8299

 Whangarei40km/h part-time speed limits around 7 schools 
 Auckland City40km/h part-time speed limits around 13 schools 
 Manukau40km/h part-time speed limits around 22 schools 
 Hamilton40km/h part-time speed limits around 30 schools 
 Tauranga40km/h part-time speed limits around 3 schools 
 Wanganui40km/h part-time school limit on Mosston Rd
 Nelson40km/h part-time limit on The Ridgeway near Enner Glynn School 
 Marlborough40km/h at Fairhhall School.  Slow sign at Koromiko School on SH1.Robin Dunn
 Grey District (South Island West Coast)Outside two schools, Karoro and Paroa Schools - both on State Highways.Mel Sutherland, Manager of Assets and Engineering
(03) 768 1711
 Queenstown40km/h part-time school limit on Centennial Ave, Arrowtown 

CBD Slower Speed Initiatives

Slow Areas
Point England Self explaining roads
Karen Hay, Auckland City Council
Slow AreasHamilton CBD
30km/h zone around Victoria, Ward & Collingwood St area
Robyn Denton, Hamilton City Council
Shared Space NapierEmerson StNapier City Council
Shared Space
WellingtonLambton Quay and Golden Mile (Lambton Quay to Courtenay Place) 30 km/hPaul Barker, Wellington City Council (
Shared Space
Wellingtonlower Cuba St, 10 km/h (proposed, Aug 2010)Wellington City Council
Shared Space
ChristchurchPoplar Lane (10km/h) shared space for pedestrians, cyclists, motor vehicles, and pending the TramChristchurch City Council
Slow AreasChristchurchChristchurch City (following Gehl Report, Public Space Public Life, 2009) is considering rezoning the core CBD area to 30km

(See Appendix 1 below)

Christchurch City has developed a Draft Central City Streetscape Plan (2008). The plan provides guidelines for appropriate design, development and management of streetscapes in the central city of Christchurch. It offers a design mechanism that promotes positive design outcomes to fulfil the many functions of the contemporary urban streets

The Draft Streetscape Plan covers streets within the four avenues. It is based on the Central City Transport Concept 2004, which introduces a pedestrian core inside the one way streets where pedestrian priority is signalled through the design and level of treatment of the streetscape to support a 30kmph vehicle design speed. In general this area will receive a higher level of streetscape treatment, allowing for the most cost effective investment of the council´s resources.

The pedestrian core will facilitate pedestrian and public transport access to the new bus exchange. Within the scope there are designated categories of streets that will receive different treatment based on their function.

Hugh Nicholson (Urban Designer, Christchurch City Council)

Slow Areas

Dunedin City Council is considering the area of the Octagon and immediately surrounding it (Dunedin CBD area, George St, The Exchange, & Moray Place) as a lower speed zone. A recent Health Impact Assessment (HIA)  has been completed on the health impact of making this area a slow zone. This HIA is believed to be the first in relation to research to inform designating slow speed zones, so other places in NZ considering slower speed zones would find this useful.

Other DCC initiatives in relation to improving the speed environment:

-Whole Dunedin Central City Strategy is pending (George St, Moray Place, Exchange area, Queens garden, Uni area)
-George St (main Street in Dunedin CBD) is 30km
-Moray Place treatments esp. to help pedestrians e.g. Splitter Islands

Charlotte Flaherty (Safe and Sustainable Travel Co-ordinator, Dunedin City Council) (03) 474 3499
 Slow Areas
Blenheim30 km/h in Blenheim & Picton in designated area 
 Courtesy CrossingsNelson/Tasman
Courtesy crossings numerous in Richmond's CBD and some in Nelson's especially the main street 
Speed HumpsSouth Island West Coast (Buller District Council and Westland District Council)Westland and Buller are both responding to public requests and are installing speed bumps in Snodgrass in Buller and Sunset point in Westland - near the beach lookout1) Steve Griffin
Buller District Council
Manager of Operations
(03) 788 9117

2) Rob Daniel (retiring so ask for his replacement)
Westland District Council
Manager Operations and Engineering;
03 756 9010

Residential (neighbourhood areas) lower speed initiatives

Area wide traffic calmingWellingtonNewtown: 40 km/h WCC, Paul Barker
Suburban shopping centres
WellingtonTinakori Rd, Thorndon; Aro Valley; and many others: 30 km/hWCC
Suburban shopping street
 Auckland Ponsonby Rd 40 km/h
Lowered speed area
40km/h south of CBD (Hammond/Horne St area)
Lowered speed areaTauranga30km/h on northern part of Marine Parade, Mt Maunganui 
Lowered speed areasWaimakariri District30km/h urban areas in Kairaki Beach, Pines Beach, Waikuku Beach east & Woodend Beach 
Street calming using street renewal timingTimaru

Timaru District Council is using opportunities around scheduled road renewals to decrease road widths and use vertical design elements etc to slow speeds through residential areas.

See Appendix 2 below

Simon Davenport
(03) 687 7475
Lowered Speed AreasNelson40km/h on streets on Nelson Hill (Stepneyville & Beachville area) 
 Lowered Speed areas
Blenheim50 km/h in Urban area & along Queen Charlotte Drive 

Rural Areas to increase awareness of other road users so drivers can modify their speed accordingly

 SignageCentral Otago

Signs warning of cyclists in the area

Share the Road signs using the ice warning sign structures during the summer


"1.5 metre to pass" signs during summer season (seasonal as when most cyclists about and keeps it fresh so prevents being ignored due to familiarity)

 Grey District (South Island West Coast)Grey District Council recently lowered the speed on a stretch of road near Cobden (Pt Elizabeth access road) from 100km/h to 70km/h after a young man was hit from behind on a very narrow road he and others were running on.Mel Sutherland
Manager of Assets and Engineering
(03) 768 1711

State Highway Initiatives

Wellington, SH1Centennial Highway, Pukerua Bay to PaekakarikiNZTA Wellington

Wellington, SH2Hutt Rd from Thorndon Quay to Kaiwharawhara, 60 km/hNZTA Wellington



NZ Transport Agency (NZTA), ARRB (an Australian road research group), Austroads (an association of Australian and New Zealand road transport and traffic authorities) and local authority websites.

Appendix 1:
Jan Gehl Public Space Public Life Study of Central Christchurch (2009)

A city centre with a 'human' pace

A TRAFFIC CALMED CITY CENTRE speed limits within 'slow core'
In order to improve the quality and vitality of the city centre a reduction in vehicular traffic volumes needs to be achieved. Vehicular traffic still has an important role to play as many people are dependent on their car for getting to and from the city. The study should not be seen as a promotion for getting rid of vehicular traffic in Christchurch but more as an aim for a healthy balance between the various transport modes.

A speed restriction of 30 km/h should be introduced within a 'slow core' in the city centre. Lowered speed limits and general traffic calming schemes will reinforce the perception of streets being city streets and not thoroughfares.
(page 47, Jan Gehl Public Space Public Life Study of Central Christchurch, 2009)

When arriving at Christchurch city centre people need to feel welcome in order to have a positive experience of the qualities, amenities and the cultural and historical activities and sights available in the city. The 'invitation' starts at the arrival to the city centre and at the gateways to the 'slow core' The most important gateways should signal a change of focus to an increased pedestrian priority. The gateways should also be linked to the city network, both visually and physically. It should be easy to find your way and orient your self! The focus should be on legibility.

Establish a legible and well defined threshold that underlines the change to the 'slow core'. A message that signals to the motorist that they now have reached a zone where all road users have the same priority.

The quality of the street can be raised in a number of ways:
• Introduce a speed limit of max. 30 km/h.
• Provide attractive walking and cycling conditions.
• Introduce the human scale in lighting etc.
• Introduce more crossings for pedestrians, so the street is no longer a barrier.

Create a traffic calmed city centre and get better streets spaces
Create a traffic calmed city centre with a reduced amount of traffic and a 'slow core' with a 30 km/h speed limit.

Important gateways to the 'slow core'. Safe comfortable streets more even balance between various transport modes (Page 94, Jan Gehl, Public Space Public Life Study of Central Christchurch, 2009)

Appendix 2:
The Speed Environment in the Timaru District, Simon Davenport, Transportation Engineer, Timaru District Council

Canterbury Active Transport (CAT) Forum 16 June 2009

Simon Davenport's (Simon) took the Forum on a pictorial trip around Timaru showing examples of how speed environments are being enhanced, or created. The location pictures were used to describe in more detail just how the philosophy is being implemented, in Timaru.
Simon's presentation explained the relationship between street design and inappropriate and unsafe vehicle speeds - and the initiative to engineer  'speed environments'.

He explained how there is a void between engineering and planning that needs to take into account urban design principles. There is also a need to raise public awareness of the risks of speeding to enable acceptance of a lower speed limit, particularly around schools, shops and tourist areas where there are volumes of pedestrians. Simon explained how narrower traffic lane widths, such as those put in place at temporary road layouts when road works and events are in operation are successful in reducing traffic speeds.

Simon outlined the standard carriageway widths and corresponding speed limits for principal, collector, local and local cul-de-sac streets. These are guidance only and local conditions such as the neighbouring street network, adjacent land uses and the district plan road hierarchy should determine in practice what speeds vehicles should travel at. Vertical design elements (side friction) such as kerbs, plantings, parked vehicles and directional changes are also being used in Timaru to lower speeds on roads - these encourage drivers to think for themselves rather than being told what to do. Cycle lanes on principal roads have also lowered traffic speeds.

Simon explained the importance of engineers meeting with colleagues in road safety (education) and the Police (enforcement) regularly to enable collaboration on issues. The key message the three 'E's' are working together to promote is that urban speed limits are not the urban speed target.

Simon was asked whether property prices have been affected by efforts in Timaru to lower speed as this can make adjacent properties a more pleasant place to live. No data is currently being collected on the influence of the speed environment on adjacent property prices. Andrew Macbeth commented that such speed analysis would be useful in informing New Zealand Transport Agency guidelines.

Simon was asked whether centre-lines had been removed from any of the roads in Timaru. This practice has just started in Timaru, with the first street having recently been done. Similar trials are currently about to take place in Auckland