Slow speeds ahead for 21 suburbs

05:20, Jun 15 2009
RISKY BUSINESS: Cyclist Francis Hoen has been hit by vehicles 10 times in 20 years as he risks life and limb on the road in Johnsonville. "It would be fantastic if they slowed down the traffic,'' he says.

Speed limits could be slashed to 30 kilometres an hour in busy suburban shopping zones to improve safety for pedestrians, motorists and cyclists.
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Wellington City Council has identified 21 areas it thinks will become safer if the maximum speed is dropped from 50kmh.

The cuts would be rolled out over four years.

The council's strategy and policy committee will decide today whether to agree in principle to the plan before asking the public for its views.

The council's urban development and transport associate portfolio leader, Hayley Wain, said each suburb would be looked at on its merits.

"We are not saying we will apply a blanket rule right across the city. We need to go out and consult to make sure the community supports this. It is all about safety."

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Studies show that every 1kmh that vehicle speeds are reduced corresponds with a 2 to 3 per cent drop in the number of crashes.

Ms Wain denied the plan was the first step in ridding suburban shopping centres of cars.

"It is about trying to find a balance between private vehicles, public transport and people who want to bike or walk."

Councillor John Morrison called the plan blatantly anti-car. "The underlying drive of this is to throw cars off the road."

He supported safe streets but said it was too easy to continually base arguments "under the banner of the safety flag".

"How far do you take it? Soon cars will be crawling along at 5kmh if we are not careful."

Johnsonville Cycles shop owner Francis Hoen backed the plan.

Over the past 20 years he had been hit by vehicles 10 times, suffering a back injury, cuts, abrasions and bruising.

Traffic was fairly slow in rush hour "but outside that you see a lot of close shaves.

"We get a lot of damaged bikes from people who have been taken out in the local area."

The secretary of the Federation of Wellington Progressive and Residents' Associations, Tom Law, said the plan had merit.

The speed limit in parts of Newtown was set at 40kmh early this year to improve safety.

The limit in lower Willis St and Lambton Quay was cut to 30kmh after a woman died when she was hit by a bus in Willis St in 2004.

The Automobile Association's John Christianson said the mix of speeds could be dangerous. The council needed to be consistent to minimise confusion.

PROPOSED 30kmh ZONES

Suburban centres earmarked for a proposed 30kmh speed limit:

* Aro Valley

* Berhampore

* Brooklyn

* Hataitai

* Island Bay

* Johnsonville

* Karori

* Kelburn

* Khandallah

* Kilbirnie

* Linden

* Marsden Village

* Miramar

* Newlands

* Ngaio

* Northland

* Seatoun

* Strathmore

* Tawa

* Tinakori shops

* Wadestown

Survival of the slowest

* A pedestrian has a 95 per cent chance of survival if struck by a car travelling at 30kmh

* That drops to 58 per cent if the vehicle is travelling at 50kmh.

* There is virtually no chance of surviving a collision at 70kmh

Source: WCC

The Dominion Post