Recently I have been reading the new NACTO Global Street Design Guide, in it is this great graph that illustrates the power of speed & it’s effect on the risk of pedestrian death after impact.

Speed & Fatality %
Speed & Fatality %

As you can see at 60km/h the risk of pedestrian death after impact is near 90%, at 50km/h it is around 60%. What is amazing is what the graph shows is a drop of just 10km/h can make a huge difference to the safety of our streets. Reducing a 50km/h local street to 40km/h reduces the risk percentage by 35% to 25%.

Now we can start to understand why many places around the world on local streets have reduced speeds to 30-40km/h.

The guide recommends that Shared Spaces be 10-15km/h, Urban Streets be 40km/h, while Local Streets 30km/h

NACTO Recommended Speeds
NACTO Recommended Speeds

The guide also recommends protected cycle lanes for streets over 30km/h.

NACTO
NACTO

We have seen the NZTA recently come up with a new Speed Management Guide (Post by Matt with more information) on speeds which move much closer to the NACTO recommendations which Neighbourhood Streets & Town Centres recommended at 40km/h & CBD’s/Town Centres with a concentration of active users 30km/h. Lets hope that these guidelines are approved legislatively & filter down making our streets safer for people, as well as much more welcoming.

Speed Management Guide
Speed Management Guide

So in my humble opinion I will sum up my post in one meme “The Speed Limit for Local Streets in Auckland is too Damn High”

Meme
Meme
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50 comments

  1. Or we could just get rid of all vehicles altogether and go back to horse and carts because we aren’t allowed to have progress or ever travel faster than that….
    Alternatively people could take personal responsibility and not step out in front of a moving vehicle on a road.

    In the above graphs those are for impact speeds. In reality people normally hit the brakes before an impact so instead of a 50km/h impact it would be more like 20km/h or 30km/h – still the potential to be fatal… just like how slipping in the bath tub can be fatal… humans aren’t designed to be wrapped in cotton wool and shouldn’t have been on the road in the first place.

    Regarding cyclists – since they are moving already the speed difference between a car and a cyclist can be anywhere from 0 – 40km/h.
    Yes we could do with more 30km/h zones in certain appropriate high foot traffic town centres etc but that is a big step from saying that most 50km/h roads should be 40 or even 30km/h zones! A lot of countries have higher speed limits than we do (Australia has 60km/h in many urban roads, USA has 35mph/56km/h urban roads etc)

    1. Yep, we should just accept that 400 people a year die on our roads because “we aren’t allowed to have progress”.

      We could reduce the vast majority of roads to 40 km/h without affecting the vast majority of vehicle kilometres. Then we can focus safety improvements onto busy corridors to increase the speed limits there. Everyone wins.

    2. “Alternatively people could take personal responsibility and not step out in front of a moving vehicle on a road.”

      Firstly, most people killed in road deaths were INSIDE a moving vehicle, so those travel speeds clearly didn’t help them.

      Secondly, we’re moving to a “safe system” approach in NZ, where the idea is that you don’t get killed just because you made a mistake. Personal responsibility is one thing, but humans are human after all, not perfect robots.

      “In the above graphs those are for impact speeds. In reality people normally hit the brakes before an impact” – you’re forgetting about your reaction time; you could be a couple of seconds further down the road before your foot engages the brake after your brain works out what’s going on – that extra 30m could be all the difference you need.

    3. Bristol, in the UK introduced a blanket 20mph (32km/h) limit across the vast majority of the city between January 2014 and September 2015. Here’s a map showing the roads covered http://www.bristol20mph.co.uk/where/

      The sky hasn’t fallen in, people in vehicles still get where they need to go, and pedestrians, children etc are safer as a result. I know your just being contrary Akldude, but as the Bristol scheme says a pedestrian struck at 20mph [32km/h] has a 97% chance of survival, which to me is the only justification needed for the lower limit.

    4. You’re drawing a false dichotomy between “progress” and “safety”. Historically, a lot of the progress we’ve had over the last few hundred years has been about improving people’s health and safety. A higher material living standard doesn’t mean much if you’re dead.

      Let’s run the clock back and apply your logic to other important health and safety issues.

      “Or we could just get rid of coal mining altogether and go back to horse and carts because we aren’t allowed to have progress… alternatively people could take personal responsibility and choose not to work in unsafe coal mines.”

      “Or we could just get rid of urban water supplies altogether and go back to living in the woods because we aren’t allowed to have progress… alternatively people could take personal responsibility and choose not to get cholera from contaminated water.”

      “Or we could just get rid of cars altogether and go back to horse and carts because we aren’t allowed to have progress… alternatively people could take personal responsibility and choose to install their own seatbelts if they think they’re bad at driving.”

      “Or we could just get rid of nuclear power altogether and go back to coal because we aren’t allowed to have progress… alternatively people could take personal responsibility and choose not to live on the same continent as unsafe nuclear reactors.”

    5. So why is 50 the ideal speed limit? Maybe we should increase it to 60? or 100? Or have no limit altogether? A lot more people will die but everyone will get there quicker, now that is progress, right?

  2. Sailor Boy, how many of those 400 are pedestrians? –
    So far this year there have been 29 pedestrian AND cyclist deaths out of a total of 326 (in other words 9%) (according to NZTA).
    29 out of 4,700,000 population is 0.00061%.

    I would love to know how you can state that “We could reduce the vast majority of roads to 40 km/h without affecting the vast majority of vehicle kilometres.” I call BS on that and as you love to say: show your working! (are you a maths teacher by chance?).
    Quite simply that will result in considerably longer journey times for most people in NZ and has the potential to cause other issues (backlogs of traffic on other roads that feed into the slower 40km/h roads for example).

    I suppose people that drive/walk/cycle across a railway crossing in the path of a train also shouldn’t be killed as they invariably are GlenK?
    Maybe trains and buses should also be limited to 30km/h. We shouldn’t fly in planes (despite them being statistically the safest form of transporation).
    In a modern economy you simply cannot just have everything be done on foot. You could basically give up on manufacturing or purchasing consumer goods as these are all part of a logistics chain involving vehicles/trains/ships. So back to a feudal subsistence living lifestyle for everyone?

    1. Wow, that’s a bit of a rant isn’t it.

      Up to 20 years ago or so, I was a regular cyclist on Auckland streets. Then, within the matter of a few months my sister and another friend both had nasty accidents in which the average speed of traffic along the road was a factor. In both cases, it was cars trying to deal with traffic situations themselves in which they had to act or react quickly without sufficient time to look out for that cyclist. Both cyclists made a full recovery, but as a perceptual thing, it was apparent that Auckland traffic had got faster and with more vehicles. There no longer felt as though there was room for cyclists on Auckland arterials routes during peak times and we all gave up on cycle commuting.

      Would a slower average car speed provide a safer environment for cyclists and pedestrians? Create a far nicer street environment to live, work and play? Absolutely. The trick is how to reduce, re-direct and slow down the traffic while maintaining mobility.

    2. Lower speed limits = return to feudal lifestyle? What silly exaggeration. If the default speed limit for most streets was reduced from 50 to 40 kph probably no-one would be more than 1km from a higher speed road and no journey would be more than one minute longer. I would agree that a 40kph speed limit on *all* roads including arterials is unwarranted, but I don’t think anyone is suggesting that (and it’s not the case in the Bristol example).

    3. “potential to cause other issues (backlogs of traffic on other roads that feed into the slower 40km/h roads for example)”
      Unlikely. A backlog is caused by a bottleneck – a point that has lower capacity than the upstream section of road that feeds into it. ‘Capacity’ means rate of flow in vehicles per minute passing a certain point. There is no reason to think that a road carrying a stream of vehicles at 40kph has lower capacity than the same road carrying a stream of vehicles at 50 or 60kph.

      1. Warning, the following is anecdotal and not real evidence: I’m pretty sure that Ponsonby Rd actually started flowing better when the speed limit was reduced from 50 to 40. It removed, to some extent, the excessive accelerate-brake cycle that causes a wave effect of delays, because the general traffic flow was just moving steadily with more time to react to a car pulling out of a side road, or someone spotting and then diving into on on-street parking space.

        1. Thats not surprising, the optimal throughput speed of a road is generally far less than the speed people want to drive on it. For an urban arterial like Ponsonby Rd, the optimal speed for moving as many vehicles through is probably around 30-35km/h.

        2. Yes I suspect the same. It’s also an advantage for anyone waiting for a gap to cross the street (either in a car or on foot) or to turn into that street. When the speed is limited to 30 km/h you need a much smaller gap.

    4. “I suppose people that drive/walk/cycle across a railway crossing in the path of a train also shouldn’t be killed as they invariably are GlenK?”

      Ironically I am currently preparing the draft NZ guidelines for pedestrian/cycle rail crossings… and we are taking a very similar “safe system” approach in trying to work out what treatments can improve both awareness of crossing & trains by users and compliance when the barriers/bells/etc are going. Ultimately if we put a big barrier in front of someone and they still insist on going around it then we are limited in what we can do (and train suicides are quite common), but someone who genuinely does not notice the presence of a train should still be protected as much as possible (and with headphones/phones these days that’s increasingly likely). Sometimes that will mean biting the bullet and grade-separating the crossing; other times it’s more about clever design tricks to catch people’s attention and steer them the right way. Unlike on the road, we are limited in the ability to simply slow the train down – they don’t stop too quickly even if you did shave 20km/h off their speeds.

    5. There are a lot of quite serious injuries as well. Not to mention the amount of deaths caused by obesity with people not walking and cycling because it feels very unsafe to go near a road.

    6. Why is anyone even engaging with this guy? he is obviously just trolling.

      No one could actually believe the rubbish he is saying. Even a few minutes research would tell him that many countries that are far richer and have more developed economies already have these rules.

      Stop feeding the troll.

  3. Peter – now who is being ridiculous?

    “Or we could just get rid of coal mining altogether and go back to horse and carts because we aren’t allowed to have progress… alternatively people could take personal responsibility and choose not to work in unsafe coal mines.” – Technology has progressed so that coal is not really needed in anywhere near the quantities as previously – so more dangerous mines are closed.

    “Or we could just get rid of urban water supplies altogether and go back to living in the woods because we aren’t allowed to have progress… alternatively people could take personal responsibility and choose not to get cholera from contaminated water.” How are urban water supplies dangerous to have in this scenario? Do they knock pedestrians over that are wondering on the road? You are being very facetious. They improve the quality of life for people just as vehicles have done.

    “Or we could just get rid of cars altogether and go back to horse and carts because we aren’t allowed to have progress… alternatively people could take personal responsibility and choose to install their own seatbelts if they think they’re bad at driving.” When travelling in a vehicle that can collide with other vehicles or objects and where seat-belts have been proven to reduce the impacts to the occupants it only makes sense to have them. Walking into a paddock with an angry bull wearing a red t-shirt would be an example of someone not taking personal responsibility. Likewise kayaking just in-front of a large container ship would perhaps be a good example of not taking personal responsibility. Yes technically a ship (car/truck) should give way to an unpowered vessel (pedestrian) however if that unpowered vessel crosses it’s path too closely then there isn’t much that can be done!. Ship can’t really go any slower if it actually wants to get anywhere so what happens is the kayaker passes behind it.

    “Or we could just get rid of nuclear power altogether and go back to coal because we aren’t allowed to have progress… alternatively people could take personal responsibility and choose not to live on the same continent as unsafe nuclear reactors.” Tricky one this… nuclear power has some clear environmental benefits in terms of air pollution/CO2 emissions. It is however inherently risky, is expensive and produces other waste. More people have died as a result of pollution from coal power plants than nuclear ones so your example is a poor one.

    1. Those are all actual historical examples where people argued against health and safety precautions due to the fact that they would allegedly undermine progress. Essentially, your hyperbolic arguments against safer speed limits are part of a tradition of being wrong about the effects of safety improvements.

      (1) refers to arguments against occupational health and safety laws. Although many new growing industries had terrible safety records in the 19th century, regulations remained relatively weak until the middle of the 20th century.

      (2) refers to arguments against public investment in clean water and sanitation in growing cities in the second half of the 19th century. Although contaminated water had documented health impacts, many cities were unwilling to invest in improving it for fear of higher taxes.

      (3) refers to arguments against regulating seat-belts in cars – even after the safety benefits were apparent, people carried on opposing laws requiring them to be fitted and used. Similar things happened with other safety devices in cars, like airbags.

      (4) obviously refers to the arguments made by pro-nuclear groups in NZ, who think that we need nuclear reactors to be “modern”.

  4. AKLDUDE – I guess the question is what value do you put on a Human life? Interesting question that most have a different answer for, but this is the most humorous line I found!

    “humans aren’t designed to be wrapped in cotton wool and shouldn’t have been on the road in the first place.”

    You could also say humans aren’t designed to be hit by a 50km/hr steel box, nor were humans designed with steel boxes travelling in excess of 50km/hr in mind. In fact I’m pretty sure Humans have been around before roads and vehicles so were not designed for either at all. So by your theory we should get rid of roads and vehicles all together?

  5. Everyone is doing 60+ on the 50kmph roads so we need to bring the limit down to 40 so that everyone drives 50.
    I think 40 should be default every where. You spend most your time waiting at traffic lights anyway. Moving fast on the road doesn’t actually get you anywhere that much quicker.

  6. I think this discussion boils down to the question what’s the function of a street. The generally accepted answer these days is “cars”. Anything else has largely faded from living memory (as pointed out by AKLDUDE).

    Many other things logically follow from this first assumption:

    – If you’re walking it’s your responsibility to stay out of the way of cars.
    – We may allow you to cross the street without a car, but we don’t have to, and we don’t have to be reasonable about waiting time.
    – Since streets are for cars, drivers can assume nothing unexpected gets in their way, and we can adjust speed limits accordingly.

    …and so on.

    But, there are consequences, and they’re broader than just fatalities:
    – more people will die.
    – getting around without a car becomes really cumbersome and unpleasant.
    – and consequently, some groups of people (kids, for instance) will become dependent on others for getting around.
    – having more local trips done by car will require wider roads, more parking in town centres, etc, which will make getting around without a car even more unpleasant.

    So here’s the question: is reserving streets mostly for cars worth it, or not? I think for many residential streets and town centres, the answer is “no”. The answer about speed limits is just a corollary of that answer.

  7. A 60% chance of death would be totally unacceptable in a workplace situation – if the street environment were thought of as the road authority’s “site” it would be shut down immediately by worksafe after just one death or serious injury. So why do we take this level of risk for granted?

    And don’t infer I am suggesting all peds and cyclists should be wearing hi-vis and hard hats. Health and Safety 101 suggests we should first try to eliminate the hazard (i.e. get rid of fast moving metal objects or slow them enough to virtually get rid of the risk of harm), and if that is not possible, isolate it (for example with physical barriers).

  8. Wholly shit this is a crap tread. Perhaps getting back to the whole point of this ‘speed limits in _urban_ areas’ would be a good idea.

  9. Probably worth keeping in mind that the posted speed limit is generally not considered the speed limit by drivers in NZ. The speed limit is actually the speed at which Police are willing to undertake enforcement. Therefore on most roads Police currently tolerate speeds where the chance of death from hitting a ped is nearer 90% than 60% – still both shockingly bad.

    The lowering of speed limits in urban areas will not result in perceptibly different journey times – the difference between 50 and 40kph over a 5km journey is 90 seconds. Hardly worth someone’s life.

    1. “The lowering of speed limits in urban areas will not result in perceptibly different journey times – the difference between 50 and 40kph over a 5km journey is 90 seconds. Hardly worth someone’s life.”

      This cannot be stated enough.

      1. And indeed, how much time in urban driving do you actually spend at the speed limit? How much is spent in congestion or waiting for lights? I would argue that the time saving over 5 km is even less than 90 seconds.

    2. Yes. Driving fast on local streets is overrated. In addition, how often do you need to do 5 km on such streets? Usually you’ll be driving on arterials (which probably stay 50 km/h outside town centres) or motorways.

  10. Despite popular belief, pedestrians in NZ are NOT legally obligated to give way to vehicles when crossing the road, and vehicles do not have right-of-way

    1. Yes, technically you can walk down the street in the middle of the lane, and as long as you obey all signs and signals other road users should give way to you as per any vehicle. Same as cycling, technically everyone should give way as per.

      But good luck to you if you try and realise your rights!

    2. I don’t see a lot of information about pedestrians in the road code. There is an explicit rule that drivers should give way to pedestrians on the footpath when coming out of a driveway, but even that rule is not applied in practice. No mention about whether or not pedestrians have to give way to turning traffic, or drivers having to give way to pedestrians already crossing the street. In practice, pedestrians go as far as walking back to the kerb if they see you’re turning into the side street they’re crossing. Most do the same with driveways. Most drivers will leave pedestrians stranded in the middle of the street. Most town centres have a 50 km/h speed limit, which makes stopping for a pedestrian a rather brusque manoeuvre.

      There’s a page about cyclists as well, which describes the exact opposite of how drivers are actually behaving on the street.

      In the end of the day if you follow the road code as a pedestrian or cyclists, you’ll end up either badly maimed, or dead.

      1. “Most town centres have a 50 km/h speed limit”

        In most town centres you couldn’t do 50 kph so it is back to the argument of removing the current blanket speed limits and replacing ALL speed limits with limits appropriate to the road, some will increase but the majority will decrease.

        1. Wrong, many town centres are on what’s basically an arterial road, and usually traffic will flow at 50 km/h. Even in the CBD you’ll find most streets have traffic going at least 50.

          1. roeland you must be right just because you said so. I have done plenty of driving at different times over the whole of Auckland and most of the country and barring very few towns on main routes I’ve found traffic within town centres (generally narrower, parked cars, pedestrians and cyclists etc) slows to under 50 kph as higher speeds are not safe and often not possible.

    3. Do you have any actual proof of this? If this were the case, why are so many pedestrian deaths caused by “Pedestrian crossing heedless of traffic” and not “Vehicle driver failing to give way”? Vehicles have default right of way under NZ law and only need to give way to pedestrians at certain places(traffic lights, zebra crossings, drive ways, shared space etc)

      1. The concept of one road user having right-of-way over another does not exist in the land transport road user legislation. A road user is either required to give way, or they’re not (but not having to give way does not give that road user absolute right-of-way). No where in the legislation does it explicitly state a ped must give way to a driver and vise versa.
        Those “Heedless” deaths would most likely refer to accidents that involved pedestrians suddenly stepping out onto the roadway without warning and the approaching vehicle had no chance of stopping

        To expand on my original comment. Pedestrians and drivers aren’t required to give way to each other. Drivers do not have a right of way over pedestrians wishing to cross, and pedestrians do not have a right of way over drivers. My comment was aimed at those enviable “pedestrians shouldn’t step out in front of cars” comments which get posted every time to idea of lowering speed limits is ever brought up

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