New speed limit comes into force
Kiss goodbye to the standard 50kmh city speed limit – from tomorrow drivers in New Plymouth's central business district will be limited to 30kmh.
With the new 30kmh roads signs already in place and plans for the reduction known about since September, police will enforce the limit straight away, Senior Sergeant Alan Whaley said.
From tomorrow drivers travelling 50kmh in the CBD will risk an instant $120 fine and 20 demerit points.
"In particular we are going to find it helpful in terms of clamping down on people who speed up to around 50kmh when they pass by bars or groups of people on Friday and Saturday night," Mr Whaley said. Although speed cameras were unlikely to migrate into the CBD, he said patrol cars were equipped with speed detectors and foot patrols could carry hand-held laser detectors.
New Plymouth District Council roading manager Max Aves said the aim of the change was to create an environment in which vehicle speeds were consistently lower and it was safer for people to walk, cycle, drive, push prams and use mobility scooters in the CBD.
"The new speed limit won't require a great change in behaviour for many drivers as the average speed limit in the CBD now is 32kmh," he said.
"However, having 30kmh as the official limit will make maximum speeds uniform on all of the CBD's streets."
Councillor Shaun Biesiek said the move to the lower limit was a natural progression to make the central city area safer.
It was also a cheaper way to slow traffic than installing speed humps. "What it does is it will stop people cruising the streets from accelerating between the humps. That has been a big issue in the past," he said.
The proposal to drop the speed limit was one of the initiatives included in the council's successful 2010 application for the $3.71 million model walking and cycling community grant.
In the past 10 years there have been 272 reported crashes in the CBD area. Of those, 22 involved pedestrians, 12 were motorcyclists or scooters and five involved cyclists.
Average driving speeds at present range from 43.6kmh in Queen St to 18.1kmh in Brougham St.
The majority of respondents to a public survey in December believed a lower speed limit would improve safety, make it easier to move around the central city and increase the city's vibrancy.
A 30kmh limit is used in several other shopping districts around the country, including Hamilton, Blenheim, Mt Maunganui and Wellington.
Taranaki Daily News