Council to consider speed limit impact

AARON LEAMAN
Last updated 11:39 12/10/2012

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Hamilton City Council has moved to calm fears the city’s burgeoning bus network could be hampered by plans to reduce speed limits across Hamilton.

City council staff yesterday agreed to work with their regional council counterparts to identify impacts the city’s proposed speed limit plan could have on bus timetables.

Staff and councillors from both councils met at the newly formed Hamilton public transport joint committee in Hamilton East yesterday.

The city’s radical speed limit plan proposes progressively reducing speed limits on most residential streets to 40kmh.

Regional councillor Paula Southgate said a "conversation" between the two councils on how the proposed speed limits could impact the bus network’s growth had to happen at an early stage.

Waikato Regional Council, which runs the region's buses, has reported a 213 per cent growth in Hamilton bus patronage numbers since 2002.

Ms Southgate said she supported the city’s focus on road safety but emphasised the need for integrated planning between the councils.

Underpinning the city’s proposed speed limit plan are statistics showing exponential increases in the likelihood of death with higher speeds when pedestrians, and other vehicles, are hit by cars.

City council city infrastructure general manager Chris Allen said no speed limit could be changed without a formal process involving consultation.

Mr Allen said the push for lower speed limits was a response to community demands for safer speeds on residential streets. The council would carefully consider any impact on Hamilton buses ‘‘to make sure we get things right’’, he said.

"Public transport is really important to the city."

Staff and councillors from each council also agreed to go on a field trip to look at the city’s public transport infrastructure needs.

The city’s bus shelters have come under increasing scrutiny in recent months after several elderly patrons suffered injuries at damaged shelters.

Vandals have been smashing glass panes or popping out perspex ones, leaving a hazard for users.

Longer-term the city council will look at standardising shelters, to replace the half-dozen or more designs that were vulnerable to vandals in varying degrees.

One option was an all-metal design with perforations for visibility.

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- Waikato Times

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