Central City Safer Speed Limit - Cycle Aware Wellington submission
We would like to present our submission verbally.
Cycle Aware Wellington is a voluntary, not-for-profit organisation aimed at improving conditions for existing cyclists and encouraging more people to bike more often. We advocate for cyclists who use their bikes for recreation and transport. Since 1994, we have worked constructively with local and central government, NZTA, businesses, and the community on a wide variety of cycle projects. We represent 600 members and supporters.
Key points of our submission
1 We strongly support lowering the speed limit in central Wellington to 30km per hour.
2 We want the 30km zone extended to more of Taranaki Street and Willis Street.
Improved safety for all central Wellington road users, especially the most vulnerable
Lower speeds reduce the likelihood of crashes, making the streets safer for all road users. In the event of a crash, the most vulnerable road users (cyclists and pedestrians) are much less likely to die or be seriously injured at 30km per hour than at 50km per hour (Ministry of Transport, 2013, pp19, 38). We note that safety is also improved for those in motor vehicles.
A fast and effective way to make cycling safer more attractive
We know that Wellington City Council is keen to provide a better environment for cyclists. Lowering the speed limit is one of the simplest, fastest, and most effective measures of beginning to create a safer and more comfortable cycling environment.
Making Wellington a more liveable city
We want to see central Wellington become more liveable - more attractive as a space to walk, ride a bike, shop, picnic, and relax. Lower speeds and safer streets will make a big contribution to this atmosphere, which is good for businesses, retail, and property values. Lower speeds will make driving less stressful, encouraging a more courteous driving culture, while hardly affecting travel times at all. Entering and exiting parking spaces will be easier with slower traffic.
In the long term, lower speeds mean less congestion
Lower speeds and safer streets encourage more people to walk and travel by bike, meaning fewer trips taken by car. Over time, this will contribute to less congestion in the central city.
Many agencies agree that lower speeds benefit everyone
A lower speed limit in central Wellington is in line with the Government's road safety strategy, and the Chair of the Automobile Association's Wellington District Council, Michael Gross, has already given his support to the proposal in a radio interview (Radio NZ, 2014).
We note that previous safer speed proposals have had support from NZ Bus, Greater Wellington Regional Council, Police, ACC, and the NZ Transport Agency.
We want the 30km/h zone extended to two key sections
To maximise the safety benefits for cyclists, we want the 30km zone extended to:
the Ghuznee to Vivian Street section of Taranaki Street
all of Willis Street.
Between Ghuznee and Vivian Streets (southbound) a lane change is required to continue straight ahead. If cars were going slower along this stretch, changing to the correct lane would be much safer and easier for cyclists. Ideally, an advanced stop box and a feeder lane would also be added to this intersection for cyclists. Northbound, a longer stretch with the lower speed limit would give vehicles more time to slow down before the intersection of Taranaki and Courtenay Place, which has a high crash rate.
Because the top end of Willis Street (northbound) has so many left-turn lanes, to continue straight ahead requires a lane change between most intersections (especially for cyclists, who tend to travel in the left-hand lane). This can be dangerous and frightening for cyclists, as the street is heavily used by both cars and buses. Also, cars are parked on both sides for much of the length of the street, meaning there is little space for cyclists to stop and wait for faster traffic to pass. Lowering the speed on the entire length of this street would make the necessary frequent lane changes considerably easier and safer for cyclists.
Nā mātou noa, nā Cycle Aware Wellington
8 February 2014
References and further reading
Ministry of Transport (2013). New Zealand's road safety strategy 2010-2020. Available from www.saferjourneys.govt.nz.
Radio NZ (2014). Wellington council may limit drivers to 30k in city centre. Available from www.radionz.co.nz.
Cycling Advocates' Network's policy on speed: http://can.org.nz/canpolicy/speed-limits-for-urban-areas
ACC's Down with Speed:
20's Plenty for Us (UK's lower speeds campaign):