Brakes on Wellington's Golden Mile
Police and pedestrians are backing a move to make traffic in part of the Wellington CBD the slowest in the country to improve pedestrian safety.
The city council is proposing to reduce the speed limit on part of the Golden Mile - from the Lambton Quay/Panama St intersection to the far end of Manners St - from 30kmh to 20kmh in response to pedestrian injuries and fatalities along the route.
Andy Smith, president of pedestrian advocacy group Living Streets Aotearoa, welcomed the proposal.
"We're talking about the Golden Mile, New Zealand's premier shopping strip, we don't need a race track."
But pedestrians could not become complacent, he said.
Wellington road policing manager Inspector Pete Baird said conservative speed limits in areas with a heavy mix of pedestrians and vehicles were a good idea.
But the change was being looked at primarily because of the choices of pedestrians, not motorists, he said. Police data showed most cars and buses on the Golden Mile were already travelling at less than 20kmh.
The public have until October 26 to have their say on the change. The reduced speed limit would come into effect in December.
The council's transport portfolio leader, Andy Foster, said the proposed change was born out of a recent review of pedestrian safety.
At least 13 people have been hit - including jogger Venessa Green, who was killed last year, and NZ Bus director Tim Brown, who suffered multiple broken bones and a punctured lung in July.
Since 2007, 54 serious injury accidents and three fatal pedestrian accidents have happened along the Golden Mile. "This is about taking action to reduce the risk of another serious crash."
NZ Bus supported the proposed changed and was looking at ways to make the front of its buses more visible, Mr Foster said.
But city councillor John Morrison said the move was yet another knee-jerk reaction that did not address the real problem. "Because the problem to me is a couple of people getting hit by buses and we've got to sort out why that happens."
SLOWER YOU GO, SMALLER THE MESS
The risk of serious injury for a pedestrian hit by a vehicle travelling at 20kmh is about a third compared with a similar collision at 30kmh, according to Wellington City Council.
Transport portfolio leader Andy Foster said for every kilometre an hour the traffic speed was reduced, the council expected a 2 to 3 per cent drop in crashes. "And lowering the speed limit also reduces the severity of crashes."
Living Streets Aotearoa president Andy Smith said: "At 60kmh you're guaranteed to bust a spinal cord. At 30kmh, you'll bounce off the car, hopefully, and only break a few bones."
Wellington road policing manager Inspector Pete Baird said most buses trundled along the Golden Mile at between 13kmh and 17kmh but getting hit by a 12-tonne bus "is like getting hit by a car at 140kmh".
The Dominion Post