20kmh Golden Mile speed limit plan dropped

KATIE CHAPMAN
Last updated 13:44 22/11/2012
streets
WCC

A graphic from Wellington City Council showing the number of crashes on the Golden Mile

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The proposal for a 20kmh speed limit along the Golden Mile has been voted down by councillors.

Wellington city councillors have ditched the proposal, which was touted as a way to improve pedestrian behaviour and reduce consequences when accidents happen.

Councillors dismissed the proposal at today's strategy and policy committee meeting, saying it would make little difference and pedestrians had to take responsibility for their own safety.

However, council would investigate lowering the speed limit for the entire CBD to either 30 or 40kmh, with the exception of arterial roads.

Council officers had recommended throttling back the Golden Mile speed t 20kmh, despite 65 per cent of the 228 submissions giving the proposal the thumbs down, saying pedestrians had to take personal responsibility and traffic rarely reached 30kmh.

Officers advised the council that "a speed limit of 20kmh is more appropriate . . . in view of the unusually high combination of pedestrians and buses on this route and because pedestrians are at greater risk of death or serious injury if they are hit by a bus compared with a car".

The 20kmh proposal was part of a safety report released earlier this year following a spate of accidents along the Golden Mile since the introduction of new bus lanes in 2010, including the death of jogger Venessa Green.

Andy Foster moved that the 20kmh proposal be turned down.

"It’s not about blaming pedestrians, but there are clearly issues around pedestrian behaviour," he said.

The number of crashes had actually reduced significantly in the past 25 years, and while a lower speed limit would be safer, the gains between 20 and 30kmh were small, and there had to be a balance between the needs of motorists and pedestrians.

"The only safe transport system is no vehicles at all, and that’s just not realistic."

Other councillors said there was a misconception among pedestrians that the Golden Mile was a shared space and the lower limit would only reinforce that idea, meaning pedestrians could become more complacent.

But Stephanie Cook argued for the 20kmh limit, saying many pedestrians acted like "twits" and a lower limit would reduce the damage when people stepped out "willy nilly".

"People do need to take responsibility for the fact that they can’t just willy nilly walk out on to the road without looking."

Justin Lester, Helene Ritchie and Iona Pannett also voted for the 20kmh limit.

Councillors also agreed to close Bond St at the Willis St end, making it a dead-end street, and to look at streetscaping the area.

The taxi rank would be relocated and motorcycle parks on Mercer St shifted to Bond St.

Contact Katie Chapman
Wellington reporter
Email: katie.chapman@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @katiechapman28

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- The Dominion Post

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