Lower inner-city limit won't prevent injuries

ANDREA O'NEIL
Last updated 13:16 26/02/2014

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Reducing Wellington's inner-city speed limit to 30kmh would not prevent most injuries to pedestrians and cyclists, new analysis from the Automobile Association shows.

Only 60 of 141 injury crashes on roads being considered for a lowered limit happened over 30kmh, while 81 happened under 30kmh or at an uncertain speed, police crash reports from 2008 to 2012 showed. 

About half of the injuries were suffered by pedestrians and cyclists, while drivers, passengers and motorcyclists made up the other half.

Wellington City Council announced last month a $250,000 policy to reduce speeds to 30kmh on 64 inner-city streets, including parts of The Terrace and streets surrounding Cuba St, Courtenay Pl and Lambton Quay.

The Golden Mile would remain at 30kmh. The proposal was out for public consultation until March 9, and would be considered by councillors in May.

The AA was surprised to learn more injuries were incurred under 30kmh, its Wellington District Council chairman Michael Gross said.

''But it stands to reason when you consider that most crashes happen during weekdays, when these streets are so busy that doing more than 30kmh is very difficult," Mr Gross said.

The crashes below 30kmh generally involved vehicles turning, reversing, parking, or simply travelling at a low speed when one or both parties involved made a mistake, Mr Gross said.

Each year an average of three serious injuries and nine minor injuries were suffered from crashes over 30kmh, he said.

Council transport portfolio leader Andy Foster said the AA's data would not change his determination to reduce the CBD speed limit.

A lower speed would eliminate those 60 injuries that happened above 30kmh, he said.

''The crashes at the lower speeds would have happened anyway. Hopefully we'll pull down both the number and severity of [the higher speed crashes].''

The AA was primarily concerned about travel times for motorists but the mean speed in the CBD was about 30kmh anyway, so the policy would reduce injuries while not affecting journey times, Mr Foster said.

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- The Dominion Post

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