Speed limit to be permanently reduced to 30kmh in central Christchurch
A new 30kmh speed limit for much of central Christchurch has prompted everything from praise to anger from the public.
The new limit will take effect from March 12. It will include all streets bounded by, but not including, Kilmore, Madras and St Asaph streets.
Some have blasted the change as "revenue-gathering" and pointless in the "ghost town" central city, while others have praised the city council for the move.
"The CBD's primary focus should be on the people who use it, not motorists. A speed reduction is hardly going to kill the CBD, it only means motorists will travel a little slower and the city will become more pedestrian friendly," Alex Fletcher said on Facebook.
"This is good news especially as most CBD drivers are going way too fast and just ignore pedestrians," said a Stuff commenter.
"That will reduce the traffic in the CBD area. It will cease to become a through route," another wrote.
Some questioned whether Tuam, Montreal and Victoria streets should be exempt. One asked if cyclists could be fined for exceeding the limit.
Stuff commenter Robert21 said it worked well overseas and in Wellington so "why not here?".
"Half of the year Christchurch city is a cold windy hole and is a pedestrian ghost town. With car parking so expensive and unreliable public transport. This 30k limit is the final kick in the guts," SusanDawn76 commented.
Steve Tellurian posted that it was "idiocy".
"People will simply ignore the 30km/hr limit as they already do through roadworks. I could understand if they made it 40kmh, or excluded Montreal and Durham from the mix, a seriously deluded decision," he said.
Nicole Graf said it was "genuinely a safety effort rather than a commuter tax" it should only be in place from 9am to 5pm.
SLOWER TRAFFIC WILL MAKE CITY SAFER
Forcing inner city drivers to slow down was first signalled in 2013, within the An Accessible City plan unveiled by the council and earthquake recovery minister Gerry Brownlee.
The city council announced the start date of March 12 on Tuesday.
Slower vehicle traffic would help make the city a safer, more inclusive destination for all street users, said council transport operations manager Steffan Thomas.
"The 30kmh speed limit will provide a safer transport network, along with more accessible central city streets for everyone to travel, work and shop," he said.
It has come into effect through a permanent amendment to a speed limit bylaw using the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act.
Dr Glen Koorey, a senior lecturer in transport engineering at the University of Canterbury, said lower speed limits would make the city safer.
"I think it'll be a very good advertisement [for the city] as a place where people can come and walk and cycle with a bit less trauma," he said.
Last year, he analysed crash data which showed there had been more than 1200 crashes involving pedestrians or cyclists in Christchurch since 2010.
The risk of serious or fatal injuries to pedestrians fell dramatically when cars slowed down, he said.
"Lower speeds certainly reduce the likelihood of some accidents, but more importantly, it reduces the likelihood of it being a serious or even fatal crash.
"Now we need to be looking at other similar environments around the city – the obvious ones are shopping centres, schools, residential zones. Why can't we get 30kmh zones there as well?"
THIRD CITY TO ADOPT SLOWER LIMITS
Councils have had the power to adjust their speed limits since 2003, but Christchurch is only the third New Zealand city to have done so.
Wellington has lowered speed limits in 15 of its suburbs, which the Wellington City Council in 2014 reported had led to an 82 per cent reduction in injury crashes.
Hamilton has also lowered the speed limit on many inner-city streets, particularly in areas near schools.
Automobile Association (AA) Canterbury-West Coast district council chairman John Skevington said the group did not feel the changes in Christchurch would burden motorists.
Few people were able to drive to the existing speed limit, he said.
"We don't really have a major problem with [the change]. If anyone tries to do 50km/h up Victoria St now, you're not going to do it, unless it's 2 o'clock in the morning," he said.
"You'll be able to pass from one side of the city to the other without going into the centre, so it doesn't really affect the traffic flows there."
Traffic signals would be co-ordinated for the new limit, the council said.
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