while Auckland city centre accounts for 0.6% of the total network, in 2017, it accounted for 4% of the total deaths and injuries (serious and minor). – Auckland Transport

Auckland’s city centre is one of the highest risk areas of Auckland’s appallingly unsafe road network, yet the AA is lobbying to prevent speed limits there dropping to 30 km/hr. This is the speed that Auckland Transport has concluded is required, but the AA are arguing for a mix of 40 and 50 km/hr.

If the AA succeeds in its lobbying, many lives will continue to be lost unnecessarily, some through crash trauma and many more as early deaths due to the unhealthy street environments.

Simon Wilson’s excellent article lays out many of the flaws in the AA position.

The AA seem to be trying to keep limits at 50 on the most dangerous multi-lane roads:

The AA is also questioning whether any speed limit reductions make sense on multi-lane arterial routes such as Hobson Street, Nelson Street and Fanshawe Street.

Auckland Transport must be frustrated with this lobbying, because the Nelson / Hobson area is the densest area of population in the country. Thousands live there and most are working or studying in the city which they get to by walking, but the streets are in the top 10% of high risk roads in NZ. Auckland Transport have also put time and effort into helping Irvine understand:

Levy said they had met with Barney Irvine to talk through their concerns.

“The arterial roads like Nelson St, Hobson St and Fanshawe St are critical to this whole plan. The average speed on those roads now is only 19 [km/hr]. But the danger is that people speed up before the lights. That makes them high crash areas.”

Nelson St, Levy said, has the highest density of any residential area in New Zealand, “and it’s in the top 10 per cent for crashes”.

Note, too, that Queen St would probably be on this map, but the speed limit there was reduced to 30 km/hr in 2008. Ten years of data since has shown that death and serious injury has dropped by 36%.

I’d like to explore some of the information given in the New Year’s Eve opinion piece by the AA’s principal adviser, infrastructure and motoring affairs, Barney Irvine. Here is the first post on the subject. Irvine says:

“The Speed Management Guide recommends 40km/h as the safe and appropriate speed for most roads in the CBD, not 30km/h limits as AT is suggesting.”

That’s not my take. The NZTA Speed Management Guide specifies 30 km/hr for urban roads with high volumes of cyclists or pedestrians (Page 13), unless they are shared spaces, in which case it’s 10 km/hr:

Page 19 similarly says that “CBDs or town centres with high place function and concentration of active road users” should be 30 km/hr.

The guide has a major oversight: it doesn’t define what numbers of people would constitute ‘high volumes’ of cyclists or pedestrians. Of course, if pedestrian numbers aren’t considered high in Auckland’s city centre, I’m not sure where they would be. Another NZTA document provides some guidance: the old Speed Limit Setting Guide 2003 in Table SLNZ6, rates roads differently if there are higher numbers of pedestrians. The trigger distinction is 200 pedestrians per day.

So what are pedestrian counts in the centre of NZ’s largest city? The Heart of the City counters show these monthly counts for last year:

The average daily counts range from over 1000 ppd in Courthouse Lane to over 42,000 ppd in lower Queen St (both sides of the road). That’s a fair bit more than 200, however you look at it. Sure, there aren’t counters everywhere, and Council is looking to put more in. Hopefully they’ll put some in Victoria Quarter. But there’s no reason to expect that “most roads in the CBD” will have less than 200 pedestrians per day when the existing counter with the lightest foot traffic shows over 1000. Using the guide at face value: “30 km/hr if high volumes of cyclists/pedestrians” means the guide recommends 30 km/hr.

On the surface, then, it appears the AA is simply wrong. And since lobbying like this could easily undermine AT’s Safer Speed Programme, NZTA must surely be concerned. I’m wondering why NZTA hasn’t responded publicly to the AA’s statement. If AA have made an incorrect assertion publicly about an NZTA document, it is NZTA’s duty to correct it. On the other hand, the AA is unlikely to have simply made their assertion up.

Let’s take a broader look at what’s going on here. The Government Policy Statement on Transport lists four goals: Safety, Access, Environment and Value-for-Money. AA’s Safer Speeds Programme delivers on all of these.

In a city centre, the goal should be to achieve high levels of pedestrian activity, as this contributes significantly towards having a healthy population. In the most densely populated part of the country, low pedestrian activity would be a sign of a poor walking environment, including too-high speeds. The speed limits on our streets influence their safety, and also their liveability, the air quality, noise levels, and the level of access people can have. In terms of Value-For-Money, there’s not an awful lot of cost difference in changing the speed limits to 30, vs changing them to 40 (although I will go into that in my next post). But there’s a huge amount of difference in benefit levels: the healthier streets that a 30 km/hr speed environment creates will have massive implications in our health bill. So for all four priorities – Access, Safety, Environment and Value-For-Money – 30 km/hr speed limits in a dense city centre are clearly preferable to 40 km/hr speed limits.

If NZTA was doing well at putting the priorities of the GPS into place, it would be recommending speeds of 30 km/hr in Auckland’s city centre.

To that end, here are some questions for NZTA:

  • If the Speed Management Guide recommends 30 km/hr as it appears to, why hasn’t NZTA publicly corrected the AA on this point?

If the AA is correct, and the Speed Management Guide says that most of the roads in the city centre should be 40 km/hr:

  • Is this the final word on what NZTA recommends, or is the Speed Management Guide only one of many factors?
  • What speed, then, does the NZTA recommend?
  • If NZTA recommends 40 km/hr, this shows they haven’t taken into account the priorities of the GPS. What is the NZTA going to do to remedy this quickly before projects like this are ruined?
  • If NZTA recommends 30 km/hr once other factors are considered, why haven’t they stated this publicly in response to the AA?
  • Why is the Speed Management Guide such an opaque document that it says one thing to a reader but another thing to someone with access to other tools?

If you’re rewriting any guides, NZTA, you also need to rethink something pretty major.

Communities shouldn’t have to prove high levels of pedestrian activity in order to live with safe and appropriate speeds. They should be given safe and appropriate speeds in order to have the freedom of being active.

I will continue with more reflections on the AA’s lobbying in a second post soon.

Share this


  1. Furthermore, pedestrian counts are also a reflection of street environment, so those with ‘low’ counts are likely to significantly increase if traffic speeds were calmed by reductions in speed limits.

    1. A good example is Cook Street. There is no safe crossing, the blind rise etc make it really risky. More people cross at the mouth of the motorway offramp than anywhere else, because they feel safest there as they can at least pick. safe gap. It’s a link from thousands of homes to Victoria Park, New World etc. but you never see anyone there, because it’s dreadful. Once the crossing goes in and the bike lane and narrowing etc. (and hopefully some walkable footpaths) Mid year , and then 30kph, I’m hoping we see a marked uptick in pedestrian movements.

      Same can be said of Nelson between cook and Union. The footpaths are abysmal and hard up against buildings and 5 lanes of traffic speeding from red light to red light, so obviously no one chooses to walk there.

      I hope someone shows the AA the population and density stats for the area. This is people per square kilometre. Keep in mind the average density in New Zealand is ~18 people per square km with “urban” Auckland at around 1200 (Hobson ridge is ~60,000). We need to stop treating these areas as anything other than the most populous and dense neighbourhoods in the country. At the moment we are treated like we don’t exist, but we exist far more than anyone else – the people the AA are representing likely just can’t fathom us.


    1. AA CEO is president of FIA now. The whole list is quite good:

      The FIA Foundation identifies seven key priorities that must be addressed, and is supporting action for each through its grant programme and through advocacy initiatives:

      Urgent infrastructure safety improvements for highest risk roads.
      All cars in production meet minimum UN safety standards by 2020.
      Prioritise pedestrians and cyclists in urban planning.
      Every country must legislate & enforce seat belt and motorcycle helmet use.
      Establish and properly resource a UN Road Safety Fund.
      #SlowDown: < 30 km/h speed limits on school routes and residential streets.
      By 2030, a safe and healthy journey to school for every child.

      1. I’d love it of these proposals included the 30kph on residential streets more forcefully. Traffic calming is really helpful but especially newer vehicles can go over speed humps fast. Results in far too high volumes of heavy vehicles and vehicles generally, taking residential roads instead of arterials.

        1. Agree! We have rising ratrunning problems in many residential areas due to the road building programmes inducing so much traffic. We also have more truck traffic, and we have much larger vehicles which are far less safe for vulnerable road users. The only response to this has been – if you’re lucky – “traffic calming measures” that often have a temporary effect. Against this background we need to:

          -Reroute the road layout to prevent ratrunning.
          -Lower actual speed limits to 30. So many local trips would shift to active modes it would be a dramatic change to access levels.
          -Enforce parking laws to get the cars off the footpath. So many people think they are doing other drivers a favour by keeping out of the flow of traffic, but they are robbing freedom from children and other pedestrians.

    2. Trouble is, Peter, they’re ignoring the children who live in the centre city. They are lobbying to keep at 50 km/hr the very routes these children use to take to school, and these routes have high DSI statistics. So it’s really a case of:

      “By 2030, a safe and healthy journey to school for every child, unless that child is on a route we want to keep fast.”

  2. It occurs to me if, as the AA claim, the lowering of the speed limit on the likes on Hobson St will see an increase in the number of drivers ignoring the limit because they feel/believe the limit is too low for the situation them the roads need to be modified to give the impression of need for lower speed.
    As a suggestion, narrower lanes often help reduce speed and could be created by double lane markings with a painted median between lanes. At the approach and immediately after to traffic lights the installation of flexible posts between lanes would also help in slowing traffic

    1. Yes the street is long overdue an upgrade, wider/better footpaths, at least one bike lane, complete avenue of trees. There is plenty of room, take a parking lane… good time to do it.

      The one-way drag-strip design is the real problem. It is best understood as Hobson/Nelson as single avenue with a block sized median; this is not a city shaped piece of kit, but a race track. Nelson has been relieved by the addition of two-way cycle lane, showing how these old designs can be incrementally upgraded. Only the most deeply brainwashed of engineers could possibly look on this current condition as anything other than inappropriate and inhumane.

    2. There’s lots that can be done there, Robert. And with the zoning of the city for A4E there will be less traffic too, meaning a diet for the road is more than possible. But do read Simon Wilson’s article I linked to – it covers the subject well.

      While it is true that the roads need to be modified, it isn’t true that this needs to happen before a speed limit change is made. The truth is that there is high suppressed demand for slower driving. As we’ve seen in comments in here, some people seem to expect others to aim for the speed limit, leaving many drivers trying to do so against their better judgment and comfort. NZTA research shows that many people want to drive more slowly and – while they are legally allowed to now – in practice, they will be able to do so with lower speed limits. Once more people are driving more slowly, others will follow suit.

      Also, research shows that even without enforcement or street redesign, a speed limit change will reduce actual speeds. But AT have had assurances from the Police that the dire lack of enforcement will now change. So we’re likely to see a good change. Remember that average speeds are 19 km/hr anyway. What needs to change are the few who are going too fast for safety.

    3. I’d be more worried about the change in observed traffic speeds following a limit change, rather than the proportion technically complying with the new limit. If the observed speeds have come down (which they will) then we have a safety gain.

      But we can also help compliance by changing the travel speed for the traffic signal green wave progression along Hobson and Nelson. Try to drive faster? You’ll just get to the next red light quicker.

  3. Perhaps in the good old days the AA was a voice representing NZ motorists but now? They’re an insurance company that runs a loyalty card scheme and publishes a travel magazine for elderly people. Their business relies on NZ remaining as car-centric as possible. As such their opinion should be regarded as heavily biased towards the status quo.

    1. People who insure their cars with the AA are not well served by this stance. The speed limit change to 30 on Queen St resulted in not just a drop in DSI, but of course in crashes. Indeed the 10 years after the change had 39.8% fewer crashes than the 10 years before the change.

      Everyone’s insurance premiums are higher as a result of the unnecessarily high speeds. NZers will have lower premiums if the Safer Speeds Programmes are able to be brought in. So the AA’s lobbying does not serve their main client base.

      1. Basing the change in the speed from 50 the 30 is not really telling the full story is it?

        Queen St has a continual interruption of traffic lights that short phase to traffic, conflict with each intersection and in general make it quicker to walk. Parking is also a problem as is the anti social element living on the streets all of which means Aucklands CBD is best avoided, especially by motorists.

        That has far more to do with the drop in negative stats than speed.

        1. The number traffic lights in Queen Street has not changed much any many years. The number of car parks has actually considerably decreased. I’ll bet the vehicle count has been remarkably constant, I can see no possible relationship between the presence of homeless and a lowering of the accident rate. The speed limit dropped and so did the accident rate. Not much else happened. Perhaps it was the closure of Whitcoulls on Queen Street that can be credited?

        2. The light phasing is definitely less traffic friendly than it once was. There is double phasing at each intersection for pedestrians which has been operating for several years. It is a road that is one to avoid and I can’t think why you would access it unless it was for commercial reasons. And the traffic in general appears way lighter than it was a few years back.

          Add to that it’s single lane for cars too.

          I walk rather than bus, it’s a lot quicker.

        3. Waspman – that’s not correct, the light phasing has actually improved for cars in recent years. The double pedestrian phase which was introduced in 2007 was removed in 2015 at the Wellesley St and Victoria St intersections.

        4. Waspman, I guess you could look for alternative reasons for all the places around the world where the same effect has been found, but it would a futile exercise. AT lists some of the evidence on page 4 here: https://at.govt.nz/media/1979117/attachment-1-to-item-81-safe-speed-plan-programme-presentation.pdf

          But there’s plenty more to be found. Monash University has found that dropping speed limits from 40 to 30 halves the chance of dying for pedestrians. Fewer injuries and deaths, fewer and less damaging crashes, big uptake in active modes… the evidence is compelling.

        5. Auckland’s CBD best avoided because of “anti-social” homeless elements? Bullshit! Makes me angry that people might think that way. I’m living just off K Road, and have done for nearly ten years, and have NEVER felt in any way threatened by the street life. And I’m out and about at all hours – 2am trips to the convenience store are not uncommon. I’d hate to think that people’s prejudices about a social problem created by years of governmental “head in sand” attitudes to the most vulnerable in society should shape our attitudes to transport issues.

        6. I dont like the way society has ended up either, its sad to see the streets as an ends to a means but its every man for himself neo lib policies at their best thats got us there. It’s miserable being that person and seeing it everywhere.

          But you have been lucky, getting abused and stared out for not caving into demands for money, food or transport does not make me embrace it either. Or being assaulted.

          Queen St is not Courtney Place, it closes up after hours and has nowhere near the social feel of Wellingtons CBD, not even close

          As for K Rd, what a piss stained shithole, especially after dark.

        7. Just saying… On suburban streets after dark, with very few street lights, the dangers are slipping on dog poo or rotten vegetation or tripping on ‘inorganic waste’ people still think they can just put out for others to deal with, or on ill-marked footpath works. Then there’s the drivers coming up onto footpaths to park that you need to be wary of, the cars parked on footpaths you need to walk around, and the speedsters who use the streets as race tracks and regularly flip over or crash into fences or trees.

          I’m personally happy walking in the city centre and in suburbs I know at night, but then I don’t have the fear of the dark that many do. It’s all about perceptions, I guess.

        8. It’s ironic Heidi, the dangers I perceive aren’t the speed limits or cars, its what lurks on the footpaths.

        9. You have no clue. I work in the CBD closer to the waterfront and have been verbally abused, challenged to fights etc on multiple occasions – and this is in daylight hours.

          That’s also putting aside the low level annoyance of unwanted interaction with beggars.

        10. Oh come on Dr, I’m hearing voices because I dont agree with the blog trend, good one dude.

          NZ Police stats for 2018, narrowed down to Auckland Harbourside, Auckland Marina, (assumed to be somewhere around the CBD), Newton, Ponsonby, Grafton and Grey Lynn East, in a very refined cut down part of the Auckland City District alone presents a different picture.

          Reported was
          428 Acts intended to cause injury
          43 Sexual Assaults
          4 Abduction/Harassment
          393 Burglary and unlawful entry offences
          1655 Theft and related offences

          And we all know crime is under reported, especially sexual offending, by a big margin

          So its not really in my head Dr. But it does make whatever the perception is to justify dropping the speed limit pale into insignificance doesn’t it?

        11. Hey Waspman. I’ve been living just off K Rd for more than 20 years. I used to wander along K Rd all the time for cigarettes and takeaways at when I was coding at night. Never an incident.

          These days with no need for cigarettes and less of an after-midnight coding habit I use the restaurants in that direction in the evening more than the ones down Ponsonby Rd. Still no issues.

          I think that you’re a bit nuts and not talking about anything you know about.

        12. Hi lprent, that’s it’s a piss stained shithole or the crime? Anyway don’t you have a dull super PC blog to run?

        13. Waspman, the fears you have and the fears I have are both important, because they are limiting us, and will be limiting other people too. And both indicate situations that have been created in large part by poor policy.

          In a city centre, where there is a higher density of people, we can expect more interactions between people. Good policy would be maximising the opportunities for these interactions to be happy, creative, culturally rich, supportive. We have what we have, and my views on lost opportunities in social policy, to be polite, are probably the same as yours. Whether the crime stats for the city centre are similar for another area covering the same number of people would be an interesting comparison – I suspect that anywhere there is nightlife involving drugs or alcohol you’ll have more problems, but I’m open to a good analysis.

          In a city centre, we should also expect less dominance by cars, more public transport, more walkability and cycleability, because the proximity of people to amenities makes these modes effective, and the space inefficiency of cars make it quite inequitable that much space is allocated to them. Again, we have what we have, as a result of policy.

          Another way to look at our respective fears is to ask yourself how many of the people you directly know or are related to have been killed or seriously injured as a result of aggression or of traffic crashes. In my case, I don’t personally know anyone killed by aggression, unless the brother of a friend of my sister counts. I know a few victims of rape, and a few people who’ve been in fights, although never what would rate as ‘seriously injured’. Whereas in terms of crash victims, the numbers are far higher. I know personally several people who’ve been killed, and several who’ve been seriously injured, and three people who have killed others through reckless driving. If the stats for you are different, that’ll be a big reason for the difference in what we are focused on. And we should both support endeavours to improve both situations.

          The danger from cars is easily reduced dramatically with a drop in speed limits, reallocation of space, A4E and healthy streets.

          If you can think of a similarly quick fix for the social problems that stop you from enjoying parts of the city, that’d be great to read about too, and you should prepare a post. But this is not an either/or; we need to improve our city in all the ways we can.

        14. Hi Heidi

          Back on track, thank god, 30 km/hr limits may work to some extent but in my opinion its a sledge hammer to kill an ant solution. Yes it suits areas where pedestrians interact with the road all of the time and Lambton Quay in Wellington is an excellent example where that is needed. Fanshawe St, come on. Vehicle movement vs injury/fatal crash ratio is tiny in Auckland and even then many crashes have nothing to do with the posted speed limit or observing it.

          Not everyone fears/dislikes/ceased owning motor vehicles. Plenty of us have to go to work, travel to and from in a timely manner and work is not an easy place to get to. Few of us want to waste time commutin.g The alternative to a car is Auckland’s snail pace take it or leave it bus services much like they’ve been over the last 60 plus years with adjustments of course. Its none too attractive.

          Auckland is a bastard of a place to get around at times and by reducing Auckland’s speed to 30 km/hr if we go for the 200 pedestrian movements per day measure will mean the only streets not doing this speed will be cul-de-sacs and this will make it worse. And ultimately, after the CBD, this is goal, isn’t it?

          If AT go with this I can see virtually all motorists breaking the law because 30 is so slow and totally impractical in most circumstances. I can see areas where it is justified but I can tell you few do it in Queen St and less do 40 on Ponsonby Rd. And if 30 is safer, then surely 20 is even safer and then 10 so why not 10, why not 5? Compromise is just fiddling with risk. What I do know is you must have public buy in and they are not going to buy into this.

          You berate the AA for lobbying and fair enough, how objective are they? But how objective are you, you don’t do cars, whatsoever, and quoting stats that suit rarely tell the full story.

          My original comment was about this very subject but at times, mostly, Greater Auckland has become an echo chamber that does not tolerate other views and people get personal. Hence things got off track.

        15. Cars take up most spaces on Fanshawe Street, but are the people in cars actually a majority? I thought they’re already outnumbered by the people on buses.

          And public buy-in, we will see. There are a lot of people living in the CBD (for whom that reduction to 30 will be a very noticeable and immediate improvement in the street environment around them), and a lot of people working there have to walk to their bus or train.

    2. AA is an Insurance company…

      I wonder if anyone there has connected the dots with some of their opinions:
      Lower speeds = fewer crashes = fewer claims = more money for AA’s shareholders.
      So their lobbying is not serving anybody’s interests least of all their own…

      1. You’ve got it entirely wrong. Insurance companies like lots of crashes. Sure, crashes mean they have to pay out, but they simply adjust their premiums to keep their profit margin. The worst thing that can happen for insurance companies is for crashes, fires, and burglaries to reduce, because then their industry is going backwards, trending towards them going out of business.

        It’s a very common fallacy that insurance companies want routine mishaps to stop so they don’t have to pay out.

    3. The advocacy arm (representing membership) of the AA is completely detached from the commercial ventures. The insurance arm is in a separate building and is a partnership with NIB with no relationships to the membership aspect.

        1. To be fair, AT is supposedly presented to the public as one organisation but there are regular complaints on this blog about the silos within it. The AA could theoretically be in the same boat, though that doesn’t absolve them of the obvious flaws in their logic regarding speed limits…

      1. They own a large chunk of AA Insurance, they certainly have an interest in their insurance company doing well, just as a politician might have an interest in the property they own doing well.

      1. Out of order a response to Logarithmicbear

        Their business relies on NZ remaining as car-centric as possible. As such their opinion should be regarded as heavily biased towards the status quo.

  4. I wouldn’t expect any decisions out of NZTA anytime soon. Their CEO resigned in December and three board members resigned in January. NZTA has had systemic issues for some time.

  5. The speed limit has been 30kmh in Queen Street for over 10 years, I didn’t know that and I’d guess the likes of Mike Noon and Barney Irvine wouldn’t be able to tell you that if asked.

    And amazingly, the sun has still come up each day.

    I’m ff to cancel my AA membership. I’ve better places to spend my money than with a bunch of Neanderthals.

      1. And when was the last time you saw a vehicle (other than a bicycle) obeying that limit on the bridge?

        Or better yet, anyone enforcing that limit?

        1. To be fair the speed limit sign at the Symonds St end was on an incredibly high pole with the disk up in amongst the tree branches. Most people never even knew the limit existed. They fixed that when the bus restriction was introduced.

  6. I cannot see the rationale for installing expensive traffic calming engineered obstacles, and leaving the negligently high speed limits unchanged. Surely it should be the other way around. Drop the speed limits for the cost of a few signs. Narrow the lanes where possible which is in lots of places. Enforcement costs should not change as all speed limits require enforcement. Something that AT, NZTA, and the Police seem to be losing sight of. If the lower speed limits, narrower lanes, together with more enforcement still are not effective, then increase enforcement as a first step, and only then consider expensive engineered obstacles.
    Unfortunately the AA, and our political masters have got into a mindset that punishing motorists for driving too fast is to be avoided unless that lawbreaking is just too blatant. The result of this mindset is people are dying on our roads here at a rate far higher then other comparable countries. Not only are people dying because of this but our quality of life is suffering.

  7. That first line is not very helpful. Not surprising, coming from AT.
    It says that city centre roads have a disproportionate number of DSI compared with the rest of the network based on the length of road in the city centre. This isn’t a fair comparison of anything.

    You aren’t looking at exposure rates, vehicle volumes, pedestrian/cycling numbers and potential conflict points between road users. I’d wager that once you factor in the volumes and intersecting paths of people using the road, then the roads in the city centre are probably not nearly as bad as suggested. It’s just that there are more interactions happening in the city centre than anywhere else in Auckland. So naturally there are more crashes in that area. It is just time and chance.

    There should be a 30km/h speed reduction all across Auckland on any residential road, not just the city centre.

    1. “It’s just that there are more interactions happening…”
      That’s the point. Speed causes more harm, so lowering the speed in an area with high exposure would lead to greater improvements in safety. Low hanging fruit. I don’t disagree with you about reducing to 30 on all residential streets, but the point here is that it’s downright ludicrous to oppose reducing it in the City Centre because of the very obvious and very large benefits.

      1. I agree with you both. The benefits occur everywhere there is an interaction, or could be an interaction if perception about walking or cycling safety changes. If it’s about costs, lowering speed limits is pretty cheap, and it is much cheaper – and easier on the public – to do so throughout the city (with exceptions) in one go than to do it in a piecemeal fashion.

        I don’t think it’s that NZTA doesn’t want to take on board the research – they often say all the right things and there are lots of good safety-aware and modeshift aware people there.

        I think the problem is they don’t know how to change the system to get the Healthy Streets and GPS priorities embedded into each project around the country. There are too many processes and documents that were written with traffic flow as the priority.

  8. The AA must surely be dominated by car preferring, possibly older citizens. Given that statistics point to younger people being much less attached to the 20th century motor vehicle. And the AA usually says pretty offensive things, at times it seems they are there to defend Mike Hosking and such other blights upon our nation. 30kmh in the city centre needs to happen, and not only that, it needs to be spread to other town centres. AT is making some good investments in these places, and they need to be accompanied with slower traffic to give pedestrians and cyclists that extra piece of mind. The inner city is phenomally served by buses, trains and ferrys, from all directions, and most people only drive in because there are carparks available. It seems now that some corporates are moving away from the carparks first model, and I know of at least one that is now building extensive cycle parking, e bike charging and showering facilities, to properly serve their multilevel block. To drive into the city is an exercise in patience already, so adjusting the speed limit to reflect a lower risk environment is logical.

  9. The AA is strongly aligned to motor industry interests. Stephen Selwood current head of Infrastructure New Zealand was the AA’s former head of advocacy and other board members have motor industry backgrounds.
    Their stance is that roads are primarily for moving people and goods as fast as possible on roads for the least cost, including fines and penalties, at the expense of any other users of the roading corridors.

  10. The speed management guide is likely referring to pedestrians within the roadway, not those walking along footpaths.

    1. There would be few urban streets without footpaths necessitating pedestrians on the roadway, not enough to warrant a special case. The much more sensible case is to count the total pedestrians in the corridor and recognise that a proportion will cross from one side to the other, therefore interacting with road vehicular traffic. I am sure this is the internationally standard methodology.

  11. Given the streets have signalized junctions the point of a 40kmh speed limit is absolutely pointless.

    The overall travel speed is controlled by the junction delays.

    In the day and age of vision zero I cannot believe the argument for 40kmh has even been raised.

    Auckland should get on with carving up the CBD into a number of traffic cells (supported by parking buildings in each cell)

    This will remove all through traffic and most of the traffic circulating for parking.

    With much reduced demand the traffic signals could then run with approach based phasing and fully protected pedestrian movements.

  12. Perhaps a freedom of information request related to any correspondence NZTA has had on the AA article could be interesting?

  13. I wonder when was the last death by being run over on the inner city streets? Ignoring cyclists of course who seem to want to drive under trucks and run red lights.
    There is probably more of a problem with lowering the speed limit. The slower a vehicle travels, the more particulate mater gets pushed into the atmosphere. That is why ‘traffic calming’ and ‘speed bumps’ are silent killers.

    1. 2 minutes of googling: serious collision 2 months ago. Of course, two people were killed walking on Fanshawe Street within about six weeks in 2017.

      1. If David had bothered to read the links I gave in the post, he would have known that:
        “Between 2013 and 2018 there have been 92 fatal and serious crashes in the city centre. An additional 465 crashes left people with minor injuries. We have an opportunity to reduce these numbers by lowering speeds to 30km/h.”

    2. On your second point, you’ll have to cite a reference, because I’ve given links above that say the opposite. Lower speed limits are part of healthy streets. Please give links to research that shows lower speed limits in a city centre ‘push more particulate matter into the atmosphere’.

      1. Here are just two reports. This first one from London states ‘It is concluded that it would be incorrect to assume a 20mph speed restriction would be
        detrimental to ambient local air quality, as the effects on vehicle emissions are mixed’ (pages 6-8). Before you get excited, it was the conclusion because while tailpipe emissions increased on petrol vehicles, they showed a reduction on Diesel. With more of a diesel mix in the UK than NZ, it is fair to say that in Auckland – reducing the speed would be harmful. The report also mentions; ‘The short-comings of using average speed models is highlighted, with the specific example of the potential to underestimate emissions of NOX from diesel passenger cars’. It also failed to account for increased congestion caused by lowering the speeds. https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/business/environmental-health/environmental-protection/air-quality/Documents/speed-restriction-air-quality-report-2013-for-web.pdf In this report from the USA, they concluded ‘if you raise the average speed by approximately 20 miles per hour. In addition to saving people time and aggravation, the program would lower carbon dioxide emissions by 12 percent, or 23 tons, during the one-hour period’. https://www.nrdc.org/onearth/speed-sweet-spot
        The absolute worst thing you can do for increasing harmful tailpipe emissions is to have speed bumps and traffic calming. Something that the NZ cycle lobby are shamefully lobbying for in the ‘interests of safety’. The second worst thing you can do is slow the traffic down.
        I get your good intentions – apparently there were 13 deaths of Pedestrians across all of Auckland Transports roading last year – but if your ambition is to make Auckland a liveable city, increasing NOX and Co2 levels is crazy.
        Rather than choke Aucklanders, lets have a think of how those poor 13 died and how we can stop that happening in the future. I would bet that the biggest factors in pedestrian deaths will be not observing traffic signals (both the vehicle and the pedestrian) and distractions, like texting (again, both driver and pedestrian).
        50 kph on Hobson and Nelson streets, both which are dead straight, wide and with good visibility is perfectly safe. If drivers and pedestrians BOTH observed the road rules, the chances of a pedestrian being hurt or killed would be almost zero.
        So in conclusion. We can keep the speeds as they are and enforce existing road laws to reduce deaths and injury, or we can reduce the speeds by 20kph, maybe stop a few deaths involving peds, but choke and cause cancer among hundreds of thousands…hmmmm.

        1. The ‘cycle lobby’ don’t want speed bumps or traffic calming. Those old school traffic engineering responses create pinch points that are dangerous hell for cyclists. Cyclists want safe, smooth and even.
          A speed bump is put in when someone has designed a section of road poorly, usually by demanding wide straight flowing roads through neighborhoods… then getting bewildered that people drive too fast.

        2. The prime means of traffic calming should be simple speed limit signs displaying the appropriate calmed speed. Cheap and with appropriate enforcement, remarkably effective. Designing a road and setting a speed limit at a dangerously high level and then spending vast amounts of money on speed humps to reduce the speeds locally just over the humps or past the obstacles is just plain stupid. The speed humps create a lot of noise and vibration to the substantial detriment of the neighbours, and they lower air quality as cars and trucks accelerate away from them.
          Unfortunately speed humps are an attempt of providing an engineering solution to what is actually a political problem. We need our politicians to step up.

        3. David The telegraph article was heavily qualified, “could lead to”.
          Internal combustion engines are at peak efficiency, which translates to lowest emissions, when run at a steady state. However urban driving consists of many phases of acceleration and deceleleration, in the range from stationary up to, and beyond, the speed limit. This requires a constantly power setting, far from the ideal engine steady state. These real driving conditions are the cause of the spectacular inability of diesel engines to meet regulated emission controls.
          It is simple to deduce that reducing the speed of the fastest phases of a journey reduces the variability of engine power output required because a larger portion of the journey will be undertaken at the highest efficiency engine steady state.
          Also simple physics, Air and road friction increases non linearly with speed, therefore higher speeds require more power/fuel to cover the same distance.

        4. Sorry, they don’t prove anything of the sort. Both of them are based on looking at the emissions from a vehicle at different speeds.

          Your first link: “The primary data set for this research is a series of vehicle trajectories, measured with the use of high-grade GPS equipment.”
          Your second link: “In an ordinary trip with minimal traffic…”

          If you only look at what the emissions would be for one vehicle, you’re not going to pick up the reductions in the area due to the fewer vehicles, are you? And we know 30 km/hr speed limits create massive modeshift from driving to active modes.­

          And even if you look at an individual car’s emissions, the type of driving that we’re looking at in the city requires a 30 km/hr limit: The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends: “20 mph limits without physical measures to reduce speeds in urban areas where average speeds are already low (below around 24 mph) to avoid unnecessary accelerations and decelerations”.


          This is exactly the situation we have in the city centre. We have the lower average speeds, we need to stop those bursts of acceleration and deceleration.

        5. OK – so you have given up on the science now and are clinging to the notion that you will reduce car use and change mode use, just by annoying the drivers of vehicles and slowing traffic.
          There will not be fewer cars in the CBD – the more urbanised it becomes, the more cars will come in and out of it. That is just because of population growth and the fact that people love cars.
          Lower speeds do create more tailpipe emissions and just to quote some more science for you, this is what your proposal adds to Aucklands air pollution: Fine Particulates – cause health problems with Asthma, Lungs etc. Hydrocarbons – Eyes and Lung irritation, Carbon monoxide – toxic, Nitrogen oxides cause respiratory issues.
          You have not thought the challenge through. You have decided that you don’t like cars and you are trying to bluff your way to lower speed limits – not to save lives – but by your own admission, to create mode shift.
          Here is a story where the UK are arguing against scientists about this…. take comfort – you are not the only one that puts ideology above chemistry

        6. “You have decided that you don’t like cars and you are trying to bluff your way to lower speed limits – not to save lives – but by your own admission, to create mode shift.”

          Mode shift is a key performance measure of Auckland Transport. Would you care to share a link to why this shouldn’t be a goal?

          “There will not be fewer cars in the CBD – the more urbanised it becomes, the more cars will come in and out of it.”

          Please supply a reference. Auckland city centre’s increase in commuters and residents has been accompanied by more PT and active trips, not more car trips.

          If you’re interested in mode shift, here’s something the NYDOT presented a few years ago.


        7. Reading the link in the Telegraph, the scientists actually didn’t link the increase to speed at all. They said “cars being driven in a lower gear produce more exhaust fumes”.

          So it is actually higher revs and a lower gear that possibly produce more pollutants. That suggests the isue is with over powered cars that need to be driven in a lower gear at low speeds.

        8. “I would bet that the biggest factors in pedestrian deaths…”

          Rather than guessing, have a read of the Road Safety Business Improvement Review.

        9. A couple of macro-trends also affect the bigger-picture impacts of emissions:

          – The shift to more electric or hybrid vehicles (to say nothing of cleaner ICE vehicles too), making the effects of emissions less significant. Unfortunately these developments don’t do anything to stop the problem of running people over…

          – The whole point of introducing 30km/h environments is to encourage more people to feel comfortable walking and cycling = less need to drive in the first place…

        10. David there absolutely will be fewer cars in the city because we are going to actively reduce their number by closing streets, including Queen St, to them. This is a well understood and proven method of reducing the number of them and the harm, pollution, noise, and every other thing caused by internal combustion vehicles in cities.

          You seem to be suffering from one of the most curious assumptions of the traffic engineer’s faith; that vehicle volumes are some sort of force of nature beyond the control of human agency. You even quote the article #1 of this religion: ‘people love cars’.

          This wooly idea is a failure to understand the world: really it is to say; people in a city built on auto-dependency are auto-dependent. This is an entirely circular notion built on a constructed condition; do we say of Victorians that they just love their horses and carts? (what people love; access, proximity, mobility, convenience, safety, comfort, affordability, freedom, society etc etc, not specific types of machines)

          To address this we have a multi-year strategy to increase mode choice and reduce this dependency by adding more effective alternatives. And the city centre is one part of the city where those alternatives are becoming mature enough, and where the disbenefits of allowing total vehicle access so overwhelmingly outweigh the benefits, to start actively restricting universal vehicle access.

          Meantime, it is important that vehicles being driven into people outside them there, are slowed sufficiently that the victims might have a bit of a chance of surviving the experience…

        11. Actively reducing the number of cars in our city is an ideology that is not universally shared and is subject to political change. While I am actually in favour of reducing the number of cars in the city and certainly reducing the traffic in Queen street to PT only, it is pie in the sky to think there will not be road traffic movements in and out of the city, using the major connectors of Nelson, Hobson sts and beach road. From a future technology perspective, we may see emissions reduction from a mix of BEV and Petrol Hybrid cars and HGV’s using renewable liquid fuels and possibly hydrogen (if ports of Auckland project works).
          However, this thread is about speed reduction and it is scientifically proven that reducing the speed limit from 50 to 30 kph will increase the particulates that enter the atmosphere. Saving a few lives by reducing speed is not a good offset if it results in poorer health for the entire city.
          Also, we do not need to reduce speeds to cut down accidents involving pedestrians. We need to make sure pedestrians and drivers obey the road rules. Straight wide roads are perfectly safe at 50kph. Driving and walking while texting and running red lights/jay walking are not safe at any speed!
          Happy to read any counter argument that involves real science, not really interested in anto car ideology wrapped up as safety.

        12. As pointed out elsewhere, that article you linked doesn’t say lower speeds will increase pollution. It says it could maybe possibly lead to an increase in pollution.

          Driving a car steadily at 30 km/h is more polluting than driving the same distance at 50 km/h. Could be, I’ve heard that before. But you don’t spend a lot of time going steadily at 50 km/h.

          In practice, what you get is lots of stationary traffic (not affected by speed limits) during rush hour, and lots of speeding up and then braking at traffic lights. Speeding up to 50 uses more than twice the energy than speeding up to 30.

          The good news is that you won’t be driving 30 km/h for a long distance. The full length of Hobson Street is less than 1.5 km, and then you’re on the motorway and no longer affected by that speed limit.

        13. I haven’t had a chance to read this in detail but this more recent study (2013) seems to suggest that there is no discernible difference in emissions.

          It appears the main reason that some vehicles emit more at lower speeds is the fact that the car is geared and tuned for higher speed driving, more often vehicles with an engine capacity greater than 2000cc.

          It would be crazy to continue to allow vehicles to travel at higher speeds just because they have not been designed for the environment. More sensible would be to exclude vehicles that are not designed for this environment.

        14. The report linked by Jezza shows higher emissions of CO2 and NOX in petrol engine cars traveling at the lower speed of 20mph. No one should be surprised – its what the scientists tell us!
          The report said the reverse was true of diesel vehicles, but went on to say that the testing methods on the diesel cars were not reliable.
          It is quite simple – reducing speeds to 30km create more emissions per km than will be recorded at 50kph. Also as you spend more time in the CBD doing 20kph lower, more emissions occur. Then – finally free of the silly zone – your acceleration to 100kph will be harder and longer, also creating more tail pipe emissions.
          Time to just accept that you are wrong guys and that switching to 30kph is unhealthy, unnecessary and will cause more deaths in the long term.
          Cars are here to stay, but we can do our bit not to increase pollution.

        15. “Time to just accept that you are wrong guys and that switching to 30kph is unhealthy, unnecessary and will cause more deaths in the long term.”

          Why would we accept that? No new evidence has been presented to support that argument. Almost everyone would know that a car is slightly more efficient at 50km/h than at 30km/h, that doesn’t imply that vehicles in heavy traffic are more efficient if allowed to reach a peak speed of 50km/h.

          You have been trying to argue past everyone for four days using a disingenuous strategy of setting up a strawman status quo and proven nothing. What a waste of your (and more importantly everyone else’s time).

          A car travelling steadily at 30km/h produces far less emissions than a car that travels at 50km/h 60% of the time and 0km/h 40% of the time. In fact, if your average speed is lower than the speed limit and the speed limit can be reduced without affecting average speed (which is clearly the case in the city centre) then lowering the limit is *always* more efficient. Check the NZTA’s Economic Evaluation Manual fuel consumption formulas.

          You have also repeatedly ignored the second order effects: lower peak vehicle speeds makes walking, and cycling more attractive, which reduces vehicle numbers, which makes cycling and walking more attractive and reduces emissions. Unlike the other strawman that you set up, no one is suggesting that vehicles will no longer access the city centre, but that the number will. Of course, the number of vehicles used for commuting has declined over the last 30 years much to the benefit of the wallets, lungs, and minds of city centre residents and employees.

        16. Typing ‘Strawman’ repeatedly is like Trump screaming ‘Fake news’. just because its said again and again, does not mean it is true.
          You have every right to an ideology, but you are foolish if you think you can force it on other people. Just like religion, the majority of Aucklanders don’t care that you hate cars. Reducing the speed limit to make it more inconvenient to drive in Auckland is a selfish act and unlikely to be tolerated.
          Still – if you think I wasted the last four days you are wrong. If nothing else, I proved that the author of this thread and her supporters are not interested in safety of pedestrians, only forcing cars from our roads. Just like Trump again – pretty dishonest.

        17. “We need to make sure pedestrians and drivers obey the road rules” – ah, the old theory of “if we could just make everyone perfect, our crash problem would go away”… yeah, life doesn’t work like that; with all the best education and enforcement in the world we are all still human and will continue to make mistakes or bad decisions. If motor vehicles are still travelling quickly then those “human errors” could prove fatal.

          Slow everyone down a bit however and those injury/fatal stats start looking a LOT better (and typically, given the existing congestion, we’re not actually talking about a 20km/h drop from 50 to 30, so the emissions impact is less too). It’s already happened in Chch CBD 30k zone – 31% drop in injuries; Mt Maunganui 30k zone – 21% drop; various Wgtn urban centres – 80+% drop; etc, etc. And for how much change in travel times? Minimal; most of your delay is already due to other traffic and intersections, not maximum theoretical mid-block speeds.

        18. “Reducing the speed limit to make it more inconvenient to drive in Auckland is a selfish act”

          The majority of people in the city centre aren’t driving. The majority of drivers in the city centre are driving slowly. Of those who are driving at the too-fast speeds, many will willingly drive more slowly once it’s law and others are doing it. And for the remaining few who may feel inconvenienced, some in-depth research into the 2014/15 Police campaign on slower speeds showed:

          “frustrated people were also more likely to adopt a number of positive driving changes suggesting that the frustration experienced to some extent resulted from the process of changing habits”

          You are insisting on high speed limits that will have almost no effect on travel times, but will improve driving habits amongst the few who will feel inconvenienced, and will substantially reduce the risk of dying for pedestrians in the most densely populated part of the country.

          Selfish is an interesting word to choose.

          Your comments have descended into abusive analogies and adjectives, while offering nothing new. Could you please abide by the user guidelines.

  14. OK – I don’t understand.

    The New Zealand Automobile Association is set up, in part, to be a lobby group for motorists and in the past it had some major successes in lobbying for better roads for all motorists

    Greater Auckland is set up as a lobby group, as far as I can see, for public transport and cycling.

    The opinions of both groups are, sometimes, diametrically opposed but does that make them wrong?

    1. Open lobbying is part of a healthy society and democracy. When it becomes distinctly unhealthy is when lobbying is secret or disguised. Disguised perhaps, by using front organisations, and I am no way suggesting that the AA is a front organisation. Secret lobbying, paying for access to ministers by strategic donations and establishing and funding astroturf organisations is however a threat to open society and democratic process and our media need to be more active in exposing these activities.
      Showing where organisations have linked but not necessarily obviously linked objectives, and membership helps to understand their points of view and objectives.
      As far as I know GA is not a lobby group on behalf of any other organisation. It is simply a group of dedicated volunteers who produce thoughtful and well researched articles related primarily to Auckland. And has an open forum with a variety of contributors whose prime objective is to take Auckland forward in a positive way.

    2. The point of this post is that either:
      -what the AA said is wrong, in which case NZTA need to correct them in their interpretation of NZTA’s document, or
      -NZTA have failed to adjust to the new GPS, (and prior to that, to research.)

      I suspect it is the latter. Until NZTA’s processes have been revised, they will continue to favour traffic flow over healthy streets, access and safety. In the meantime, NZTA needs an interim ‘catch-all’ process – “Does this result improve access for people not in cars? Does this result create modeshift to healthier modes? Does this result reduce carbon emissions? Does this result increase safety for vulnerable road users? Does this result improve places?” Etc. If not, the result cannot be used, and the processes used to produce it have been identified and can now be reviewed.

      But even so, it doesn’t leave the AA in a rosy light. When what they are lobbying for involves more death, suffering and ill health – and the research is quite clear that this is the case – we don’t have to sit back and accept that as responsible or ethical. It’s not.

      1. -deleted-
        What you and the AA should be lobbying for, is better enforcement and education of road rules. If everyone obeyed simple rules (go on green, stop on red), cross the road at the lights, there would be zero deaths. And that dear Heidi – even you cannot argue x

        1. The first half of your comment will be deleted due to failing to abide by the comments policy: “2i. Obsessive arguing in a thread or threads and 2ii. Repeated statements without supporting evidence.” Sailor Boy summarised the reasons well, so you can look to his comment for clarification. Further comments that don’t abide by the comments policy will be deleted without warning.

          The second half of your comment indicates you haven’t read the Road Safety Business Improvement Review despite my recommendation. Here is the link:


          And here is a quote from it:

          “The crisis in road safety performance reflects a number of deficiencies of public policy at central government and local level. Most of all it reflects an absence of commitment to improving safety on New Zealand and Auckland’s roads… This report endeavours to identify the range of shortcomings and importantly to offer solutions (in the form of the recommendations detailed above to be carried out over the next three years) to the partnership about what needs to be done.”

          Auckland Transport is endeavouring to follow these recommendations. Your suggestion, while well-meaning, is overly simplistic, and doesn’t add anything to the work done in the field of traffic safety engineering and planning.

  15. I’m not even sure why NZTA would have any involvement. This is a road in Auckland, I really can’t see why AT needs a national guide to set the speed limit. Sure the maximum limit could be set by the NZTA for safety reasons, but AT should be able to set the limit as low as they want (just like they can close the road or not build it in the first place in which case the limit is 0)

    1. Nice in theory, except that NZTA still effectively have the power of veto on any speed limit proposed by a council under the Setting Speed Limits Rule (and councils are supposed to use the national data and procedures underlying this Rule to set their speeds). The Agency prefer to just ‘actively discourage’ councils via their own submissions on these proposed changes though.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *