CAW submission on the proposal Lowering the Speed Limit in the Golden Mile
Cycle Aware Wellington (CAW) supports lowering the speed limit through the Golden Mile to 30 km/h, as proposed, because it will make walking and cycling through central Wellington safer and more pleasant.
Lowering operating speeds and speed limits on most urban streets will:
- improve safety for all road users (not just cyclists)
- encourage more people to cycle in the central city, reducing car use
- make the city quieter and more pleasant
- have little or no effect on vehicle journey times
- be good for city businesses
- be consistent with WCC's cycling policy
Reducing motor vehicle speeds will have two benefits for pedestrians and cyclists:
- People struck by motor vehicles at lower speeds will be less likely to be killed or seriously injured,
- the chances of them being struck will be reduced as motorists have more chance to avoid hitting them, when travelling at lower speeds.
CAW agrees with the brochure when it states "for every 1km/h we lower the speeds, we can expect a two to three percent reduction in the number of crashes. Lowering the speed limit should also reduce the severity of the crashes that do happen. This is important when you consider that four of the city’s 10 worst pedestrian accident black spots are in this area."
NZTA's national road safety strategy "Safer Journeys to 2020" notes that in a collision with a car, pedestrian and cyclist fatalities increase rapidly as vehicle speeds increase, such that "death is virtually certain" if the impact occurs at or above 60 km/h, whereas if pedestrians or cyclists are hit by motor vehicles travelling at 30 km/h or less, the probability of death is less than 10%. In Britain, 20 mph (32 km/h) is the standard speed for urban areas.
51% of fatal and serious crash casualties in Wellington in 2006 were pedestrians and cyclists. This compares with 27% for Auckland City and 32% for Christchurch City (Land Transport NZ, 2007). Although only 12 crashes involving cyclists in the Golden Mile have been recorded in 2005-09 (NZTA crash list detail report), this is likely to be an underestimate, and almost all involved either failing to give way or poor observation, factors which would be ameliorated by lower speeds.
The increase in safety will encourage more people to cycle, fewer people to drive, carbon emissions will be reduced, climate change will be mitigated, the fitness of Wellingtonians will increase and health costs will decrease. The changes will create a vibrant Golden Mile where reduced noise and pollution, and increased safety, will attract visitors and shoppers.
As well as supporting the 30 km/h zones proposed, CAW supports the 10 km/h speed limit in lower Cuba Street, as part of a shared zone.
Overseas, shared zones lead to fewer accidents, and an environment in which all road users treat each other with mutual respect. The argument that vehicle speedometers may not be accurate to 10 km/h is specious - 10 km/hr is about running speed, and a driver should be easily able to estimate this. CAW believes that with traffic calming measures and education the shared zone will be successful and the concept has potential to be adopted in other areas of the city.
Cyclists are already enjoying the reduced speed limits in places such as Lambton Quay, Newtown, Aro Street and Thorndon, but are concerned that speed limits could be better signed, for example by ensuring that speed limit signs are not obscured, as they are in the Aro Valley, and that the speed limit figure is marked on the road.
CAW supports the reduction of speed limits in the Golden Mile.
We would like to present an Oral Submission on this consultation.