We have a job this year. Auckland’s future will be influenced by the outcome of the local elections. We need to see our city become safer and healthier, with infrastructure modified for a more affordable and low-carbon future.

Auckland Transport, despite its internal wranglings, has the beginnings of a programme to deliver change. We also have councillors willing to champion it. Roll on election: we now need to replace all the obstructive councillors with more progressive ones, so that the transformation of Auckland Transport from roads-first to a safe multi-modal people-focused organisation can continue.

Under the Local Government Act, our Council is required to plan for present and future generations. Councillors favouring easy status-quo votes over good planning are failing in their legislative duty. And that’s particularly hurting our kids.

The most urgent job is to address the safety crisis, to make the city safer for its most vulnerable citizens. As the Auckland Regional Public Health Service submitted recently:

Speed limits are currently at a level that is known to be unsafe. Auckland Transport is required under the ‘Land Transport Rule: Setting of Speed Limits 2017’ to set speed limits that are safe.

Estimates from the International Transport Forum show that out of 26 international cities, Auckland has the second highest pedestrian fatality rate.

Reducing speed limits makes our roads safer for all road users – fewer collisions, fewer injuries, fewer deaths.

Communities in which it is safe and easy to walk, cycle or take public transport are associated with healthier populations.

Late last month, two Kowhai Intermediate students were hit by a van. They were simply walking to school, crossing an arterial road on a green man. Both were hospitalised, one was critically injured.

I’m aware of a few others just this year: a 15-year-old seriously injured by a car when he was just walking to school on the footpath of an arterial road, another crossing a road that had no pedestrian crossing its entire length yet lines of parked cars obstructing visibility. And pedestrians have been struck by cars and buses in locations where the safety need had been highlighted multiple times.

Every one of these tragedies was in an area with a speed limit known to be unsafe. Each one was:

no accident. It was a trap knowingly set … predictable and preventable

Auckland Transport plans safety improvements, only to have them overturned by external pressure. What can they do if the councillors themselves are throwing obstacles in its way? The quotes below are from politicians of left and right – their names and parties don’t matter. The quotes are simply material to discuss, so we can be prepared with questions and information for all our candidates, citywide.

Many of you have written to me in the past requesting pedestrian behaviour should be better managed – it is absolutely frightening to have someone step from the footpath onto the road into the path of your vehicle without looking. That’s actually one of the drivers (pardon the pun) around the slower limits. They want to ensure that even if people make mistakes it shouldn’t cost them their life. An argument against is to point out the lack of pedestrian safety campaigns that target pedestrian behaviour. Should this not be explored before undertaking a change of this magnitude?

This councillor makes an argument against ensuring that a mistake made by someone walking doesn’t kill them. Yet motorists make mistakes all the time and usually it’s someone else put at risk.

Public Meeting TONIGHT on Auckland Transport’s !@#%^& ideas for St Heliers (and Mission Bay).

If you feel your candidate is inciting conflict, call it out.

Here’s the NZTA’s Crash Analysis System’s data for St Heliers. Some of these dots represent multiple crashes (the 10 dots at the corner of St Heliers Bay Rd and Tamaki Drive represent 44 crashes, for example). The red dots are serious injury, blue are minor injury.

“To solve a problem, you have to have a problem,”…[the councillor] said she could not see how 12 new raised pedestrians crossings could have solved three serious crashes in St Heliers over a five-year period.

Imagine how that comment makes those victims and their families feel. We need to preempt injury; sometimes a place needs fixing even if no serious crashes have occurred. Poor safety also leads to minor injury crashes (many resulting in long-lasting discomfort for victims), low physical activity rates, and low independent mobility rates for children.

My article made it clear I support lowering road speeds in suburban streets with lots of people about, but not on the main arterials.

Slowing speeds down across the board will just make things worse.

Children walk along and cross arterial roads too, like the children hit this year. Should children be denied the safety offered by international guidelines for speed limits on arterial roads just because a few councillors can’t take on new evidence and ideas?

A councillor requested of AT:

1) Detailed evidence of deaths and injuries within the last five years in the affected areas (not just totals, but specifics of each and every incident that lead to death or hospitalization within the affected areas within this period).

Apparently, this councillor was invited in to look at the data that is available for each crash.

2) Specific evidence that the proposed changes would have affected the outcomes in these incidents (not just generalized safety theories, but specifics as to how these theories would have applied in each of these incidents)

The specifics for how safer speeds affect driving culture are more broad brush than that. No-one can look at a crash and say definitively what would have happened, just what statistically was more likely to happen. Looking in detail at the crash records would also be of dubious ultimate value; the “Turning The Tide” report recently recommended we “Train police to minimise a pro-motorist bias in enforcement and crash investigations.” Until that’s done, the crash data has limited use.

Three times they have failed to supply this information. I have since complained to the Ombudsman. Why is AT being so evasive? One can only conclude its because the facts don’t support its agenda.

The councillors were given extensive information compiled by experts. New Zealand is a member of the OECD, and its International Transport Forum compiles and analyses research from all OECD countries, so it has a big pool of data. It is their guidelines that Auckland Transport is following in its safer speeds programme. Rejecting their findings amounts to Trumpian-style grandstanding.

(Credit: Average Joe Cyclist, ElectricBikeBlog.com)

Inherent in Auckland Transport’s plans is the assumption that slowing the speed limit will reduce cycle accidents. However, there appears to be abundant evidence that many cycle accidents are unrelated to speed limits. For example, in Holland, older men falling over on e-bikes while stationary are behind the rising death toll among Dutch cyclists. Cyclist deaths in Netherlands now surpass the numbers killed in cars. Please provide evidence that Auckland Transport’s policy of encouraging cycles will not result in a higher road toll as a result.

If we adopt safer speeds and develop a cycling network as the Netherlands have done, all the evidence suggests we will reduce the number of lives lost in our community. There’s still a lot more work to be done. One day our currently most egregious safety issues may be solved, and older men falling over on e-bikes when stationary will become the most important issue to tackle.

According to the government’s own studies: nationally, only about 15 per cent of fatal accidents occur above the speed limit.

Speeds that lie between a safe speed and the current speed limits, are unsafe speeds. It’s also the range where most travel occurs, so it is no wonder that’s where many fatalities are occurring.

What is the percentage of deaths caused by pedestrians who are crossing roads but not using the crossings?

In case your candidates are also searching for victim-blaming data, Auckland Transport replied “For the five year period 2013-7 there are no NZ Police records in online NZ Transport Agency CAS system of pedestrian at-fault deaths due to pedestrians not using a pedestrian crossing”.

How is AT paying for the 30 kmph consultation process?

What impact on journey times are you contemplating with this new speed limit regime?

How much money is spent annually on orange cones?

How much money is spent on leasing orange cones?

If you’re faced with the “no money for safety” miserliness, you could bring up 60 years of over-investment in roads that needs to be righted. Or that the costs of keeping pedestrians and cyclists safe from the dangers posed by vehicles is supposed to be covered by motorists, and there’s a debt to be paid because this hasn’t been done.

Engagement with NZ Police with Respect to Delays Caused by Accidents.

The best way to reduce delays from crashes is to make the whole system safer overall. Safer speeds will add a few minutes’ in travel for a far more reliable journey time meaning most people will be able to actually leave home later each day. We need quality, un-biased data to design a safer system. Putting pressure on the Police to work quickly at this time doesn’t assist that.

All candidates will talk about the change they’ll bring. The key is to discover the basis:

  • Real change to our transport system, to make it safer, healthier, and more sustainable,
  • Real change to how consultation is done, to remove bias for the status quo,

Or just:

  • “Change” that amounts to a reversion to previous norms, by cancelling the real programmes of change.

An engineer, a doctor and a councillor walk into a bar. The engineer proposes best practice solutions to real problems of safety and health. The doctor welcomes the proposals. The councillor calls the engineer an unelected idealist.

What does the voter do?

(Speculation about the identity of the councillors and candidates quoted is not the intention of this post; comments to that effect will be deleted.)

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  1. The NZTA Mega Maps tool shows some 65% of Auckland Streets should have a speed limit lower than 50km/h. At Mission Bay it shows all the streets except Tamaki Drive and Patteson Avenue should be lower than 50km/h. Both of those streets show 50 km/h is safe and appropriate. Yet with all those streets to choose from AT managed to come up with a plan to reduce the speed limit of Tamaki Drive and leave the others at 50km/h.

    1. Mega Maps recommends 50km/h for small back streets of Newton, Eden Terrace and Newmarket, I don’t know how its weighting is supposed to work for urban streets, but the results there are bonked.

      1. it uses zoning and traffic counts so they would appear as sparse streets with less likelihood of pedestrians due to mixed use zoning there.

    2. NZTA’s Mega Maps tool does not use the guidelines set by the International Transport Forum. It has been around long before this government got serious about safety.

      1. Are you referring to the ITF paper that looked at the impact of reducing speed limits in Australia and Hungary from 60 to 50km/h and then jumped to the conclusion that 30km/h is an appropriate speed limit?

        1. How about you read the research as if your children’s lives depend on it, miffy, not your next quip? Trolling by implying there’s only scant evidence will only have you ending up looking a fool. And that would be a shame, because it’s much more fun laughing at your jokes than laughing at you.

        2. OK maybe I should stay on issue and say if there is a problem then what is the cause and will hanging up signs that say 30 address the cause? The two cyclists that crashed into pedestrians in Mission Bay were probably going less than 30km/h but of course we will never know as they probably didn’t have a speedometer.
          Blanket speed limits of 30km/h are not going to alter crashes by people who travelling faster than the speed limit. (Although it could increase them as more people will fit in that category). It won’t do much to make cellphonists less of a hazard to others. It won’t do much to address specific safety issues that might exist.
          Maybe identifying issues and addressing them based on evidence could be a good alternative.

        3. “if there is a problem” – Strange thing to say. We have the second highest pedestrian fatality rate of 26 OECD countries studied. We have children being restricted on the grounds of traffic danger.

          “what is the cause” – Many causes. Read the safety review.

          “and will hanging up signs that say 30 address the cause?” Research shows that with no other change, there’ll be an improvement, yes. More to the point, combined with other changes, lower speed limits will be very effective.

          “Blanket speed limits of 30km/h are not going to alter crashes by people who travelling faster than the speed limit” – There are a number of ways that the driving culture will be changed by a slower speed limit, meaning that the likelihood of people travelling at any particular high speed will be lower.

          There are many strands to safety. Speed is just one of them. We need to tackle them all, but if each strand is resisted on the basis that others exist, we’ll get nowhere.

          Have you been considering standing for council?

        4. Hey Miffy how many pedestrians have people riding bikes killed in Auckland this century? Could there be some other thing hitting and killing them? How could we go about finding what it is? And how could we quickly and cost effectively lower both the rate of these incidents and their severity?
          I wonder? Any thoughts? Quips? Theories? Anecdotes?

        5. Try these for facts Patrick R. There were no fatalities in Mission Bay in the last 10 years. There was one serious injury crash. The car was not going more than 30km/h because it was turning a corner. It was dark and the driver didn’t see a pedestrian so perhaps improving lighting and putting a pedestrian crossing at Aiken Avenue might be a better approach than just sticking up some 30km/h signs. There were 3 minor injury crashes to pedestrians in driveways where 30km/h signs and pedestrian crossings would have no impact. There were two minor injury crashes where cyclists hit pedestrians on Tamaki Drive and 30km/h signs would have had no impact but maybe a cyclelane would help. There was one minor injury in a bus stop where a van came across the road where 30km/h would have no impact. There was one where someone crossed near the signals, maybe just maybe 30km/h might have avoided it but we don’t know how fast the driver was going or why the person ran out.
          The choice is to go at safety issues based on evidence like the fact that a third happened in the dark so maybe lighting is a problem, or alternatively we just assume that a different speed limit would do something useful. Despite the fact the ITF paper notes that changing the speed limit has bugger all effect on mean speed. But hey I get the logic here- something must be done, this is something ergo this must be done.

        6. but the killer bikes…? come on, that’s the key issue here, surely?

          And you’re saying to improve any street there must be deaths? In broad daylight; how many would you like exactly?, and is a bit of gloom ok? Or did they have it coming if they die, say, outside of clear daylight hours…? Any other excuses? Driver having a bad day? ‘Came out of nowhere, honestly’? Receiving an important txt?…

          Or you know, we could do the one thing known to reduce both the frequency AND the severity of crashes on our roads and streets, preventatively; reduce speed…. with enforcement, education, and, over time, design changes to make those safer speeds feel natural.

        7. Killer bikes? Must be deaths? Did they have it coming? WTF dude where are you getting this shit from?

        8. The car was not going more than 30km/h because it was turning a corner…

          Uhm, no. You cannot make that assumption over here.

          Apart from safety, another benefit of slowing traffic down to 30 is that you significantly reduce the nuisance to people around you. Less noisy, and less threatening. It becomes much easier to stop for pedestrians crossing the road (who would otherwise be stuck in the middle for minutes).

        9. I’ve often wondered why we’ve never adopted Canada’s stance on pedestrians where cars give way to anyone who steps onto the street (or is that only BC?). Over there they start giving way even if you look like you’re going to step onto the road.

          They even had no issue doing it on roads covered in snow.


        10. @miffy. Can’t afford the money or time for a full street makeover for each and every part of Auckland in the near future. This is a start. Even in my speedster past I would of slowed at least to somewhere near 30 if it was posted. If 50 I’d likely be faster and if not would feel the mental pressure of those behind that have a legal right to go 50 & are tailgating. Simple: Slower means more time to look and less damage when someone makes a mistake, driver or otherwise.

    3. My understanding is that the Maps do not consider road/area purpose explicitly. Rather purpose is reflected insofar as it creates safety issues.

      In principle Mega Maps says if it is justifiable from a safety perspective to have a certain speed limit, not if the intended function of the street does too. At least that is what I got out of the Herald’s article.

      Of course, this does not explain why the unsafe at 50 roads you mentioned were proposed to stay that way. Baby steps I guess. But they should do better.

  2. The responses of Councillors that you quote are the best possible illustration of what would happen if, as some are arguing, AT was brought under direct political control. Except the nitpicking and inane information requests would be multiplied many times. This is not “holding to account“ – it’s political gamesmanship and the stoking of uninformed and irrational opinion. It should be called out as such.

  3. (Speculation about the identity of the councillors and candidates quoted is not the intention of this post; comments to that effect will be deleted.)
    Surely we need to know who they are, so that we know who NOT to vote for.

    1. Hopefully Greater Auckland, Bike Auckland, Generation Zero will again produce a simple survey that goes out to candidates for council asking for their views on safe speeds, active transport etc and publish prior to election. Our group, Bike Te Atatu, also asked the questions of our local board candidates and followed up by taking those elected on a guided ride to show them local issues. It is a great way to get candidates to show where their true alligances lie.

  4. Well one high profile candidate with very strident views that the road safety experts are all wrong, and that AT don’t know what they’re doing, and need to be brought under his control, has 4 drink driving convictions, 6 speeding tickets (in a ministerial car) and a dangerous driving charge…

    1. I’m sure they are right about AT needing its “collar felt”.

      But I’m equally sure that if we had a whip around the Boards AT and NZTA we’d find a similar level of historic (and probably current) “law breaking”.

      But then that wouldn’t be the first time some one in authority says “Do I say, not do as I do” would it now?

    2. It’s good to find some common ground with the AA. They say:

      “The public and AA Members have lost all patience with drivers who have numerous convictions for drink driving. We want them off the road – they have used up all their chances.”

      1. Ah but Heidi,

        I still see a large gap with AA.

        After all who decides where the line “numerous convictions” is actually drawn?

        Seems many law judges take a very lenient view on how many numerous drink drive convictions one needs to be given a stiffer sentence.

        For most its seems its a treated as a small infraction, even if you have a dozen convictions. Other judges seem to think 3 is enough.

        I doubt the AA is alignment with either court of public opinion, nor the law courts over how “numerous” is to be interpreted.

        Giving them a truckload of wiggle room.

  5. Was the decision to not change the speed limit in Glen Eden to 30 from 50 recently, was this influenced by local Councillors or was this a straight AT decision?

    1. I’d love some locals to find out.

      If it was simply due to consultation feedback, AT should’ve stuck to their guns. The Island Bay Cycleway decision makes it clear that Council needs to provide amenity and safety for the population without any obligation “to accede to the views of a majority of a community or the majority of any part of a community.”

  6. That St Heliers map is telling. Many incidents seem to revolve around the roundabout at Polygon Road. The placement of the pedestrian crossings there are absolutely maddening for everyone and clearly don’t work.

  7. Will Greater Auckland and/or Bike Auckland be giving all the candidates a questionnaire covering their opinions on multi mode transport.

    That would be tremendously helpful to voters if we could see all the candidates answers to a standard set of questions.

  8. I think that the failure of regulatory bodies to address the issue of speed is just symptomatic of a failure to address many road safety issues.
    Of 10 people who have died on Northland roads this year 5 were detected to have used P or cannabis and yet this is not considered sufficient of an issue to have a testing regime.
    A very significant proportion of the population drive while using hand held devices which often leads to accidents and in some cases fatalities. The sanction, in the rare event that someone is caught, is a fine pitched at the level of a parking ticket.
    Dozens of people are killed every year because they don’t wear seat belts. No effective solution has been arrived at to halt this.
    Is Mike Hosking right – the car is king – and woe betide anyone who wants to curtail someones enjoyment to drive how they wish?

    1. Hard to get people to do what they should at all times, though it’s import we try, with enforcement etc, but we can make the context in which this poor behaviour choice occurs more forgiving and less lethal, especially to third parties…

    2. And a far higher Police presence will make a far more pleasant traffic environment. Lack of enforcement has led to arrogant driving.

    3. Agree about the speed limits and hand held devices.
      But regarding seat belts there does need to be some level of personal responsibility. Surely everyone who chooses to not wear a seat belt does so knowing the risks. Just like anyone who climbs a ladder or changes a light bulb. Likewise the regulatory bodies could save hundreds of lives a year by forcing everyone to stick to a healthy diet, but I’d prefer it to be personal responsibility.

      1. As the state effectively insures motorists for the cost of personal injury in accidents it is quite proper that the state demands that you wear seat belts to reduce their costs. If Personal responsibility was extended to you always having to pay the full costs for any injury consequences, of not wearing a seat belt, then only then would you have a valid point. Remember the costs could well be a life time of care.

    4. “yet this is not considered sufficient of an issue to have a testing regime.”

      This isn’t quie true. The main reason that we don’t have roadside testing for drugs is that there is no easy roadside test for most drugs. You can only assess consumption using urine or blood samples.

  9. I find it odd that a certain number of fatalities are needed before a speed limit change is considered necessary. Imagine if I ran a major construction company, didn’t use scaffold because it was inconvenient and costly, and considered there to be no issue because there had *only* been serious and major injuries without a fatality. Or if I was the health minister, instructed the DHBs to not sterilise the equipment because it was quicker and cheaper, and considered it OK that *only* 400 people died per year from infection.
    In fact comparing the building industry (which is too obsessed on building safety to the point where its overly costly to build a house) to the transport industry (where 400 deaths a year is considered OK even when there are very obvious immediate fixes) you have to wonder how one government can be controlling both…

    1. Well abig reason would be that directors of construction companies can now be personally liable for faling to take H&S seriously. Meanwhile directors of NZTA or AT can’t be held liable for not supplying a safe roading environment because it is not a work place and the people using it are not their employees.

      So AT/NZTA can use political factors to justify why they are not doing everything they can to make the road toll zero. A construction compamny absolutely cannot do that.

      However, I agre with you. If construction companies are told there is no acceptable death/injury rate, why can’t the same apply to transport? That is exactly what Vision Zero is – it should just be implemented not consulted on. Contruction companies don’t consult on whether workers want safer working conditions.

  10. The other common thing we hear from politicians and the media is that we need more divided (no doubt multi lane) roads to fix the problem. I heard on the radio the other day some supposed expert saying the problem is that only 2% of NZ roads are expressway standard, and we need to fix this instead of lowering speed limits. But even if the government spent 10’s of billions on expressways (I’m sure those fuel tax hikes would be popular!), it would be difficult to get that number to even 4% in 10 years. So ~96% of all trips would still be on dangerous roads at dangerous speeds.
    It’s amazing how many supposed ‘experts’ and people working in the ‘public good’ can come up with such obviously biased comments. I think there is an entire generation or 3 that have been totally brain washed into this kind of thinking.

  11. I agree with reducing speeds in residential streets but oppose a blanket approach that would apply to every street in Auckland (i.e. including all arterial roads). It is very hard to get a straight answer from Auckland Transport as to which approach is being followed – I have asked repeatedly and got a confusion of answers from different people (including Shane Ellison and AT Board members). While I totally get the logic that lower speeds increase pedestrian survivability, as a long-standing local politician, I am wary of proposals for unenforceable 30kmph signs going up on every street. Senior police officers responsible for traffic safety have confirmed that they will not actively enforce blanket speed controls as they are not resourced to do so – their focus is on known accident black spots. And without enforcement the 30kmph roundels will be treated by many motorists as “paper tigers” to be ignored. The approach which I have long advocated is that of “taking people with you” by persuading them of the merits of a proposed change rather than simply imposing it. In this case 30kmph on all arterials would increase travel times across town by 60% or more so there is clearly a lot of work that needs to go into persuading those affected.
    In 27 years as Transport rep (at Community Board and Local Board levels) I have consistently distinguished between Arterial Roads that connect between suburbs (higher volumes of traffic at higher speeds) and Local Roads that serve local communities (much lower volumes of traffic and lower speeds). My model has been the Dutch Woonerf scheme which is the lowest speed (walking pace in strictly residential culture de sacs) of their hierarchy of roads ranging up to arterial and motorways. That is why over the last 5 years Albert-Eden Local Board has created several area-wide traffic calming schemes involving dozens of streets with threshold markings at all the entrances, clearly marking the transition from arterial road to the local road network, and advising motorists to slow. AT has now picked up this approach at its new area-wide schemes in Rosehill (Papakura) and Te Atatu South, with more to follow. Without changing the posted speed limit such schemes knock about 20% off speeds in the affected streets. To confirm this we had a consultant survey 10 streets in the Balmoral-Sandringham area after traffic calming and found an average 23% reduction in the 85th percentile speed.
    My fear is that any attempt to apply a blanket 30kmph zone across the whole of Auckland (apart from the motorways) will lead to a strong political backlash (and there is already a mayoral candidate campaigning on this issue) that will if successful only undermine road safety initiatives generally. For this reason, I suspect that AT will move back the implementation of its new speed regime by about 6 months (from just before the local government elections to early next year). Hopefully they will also distinguish between arterials with their important intra-regional transport function and local roads which serve as distributors within the communities they serve. That is more likely to gain widespread acceptance and compliance and gains in road safety for all users.

      1. Responding to Patrick. If you are right them I am pleased to hear it, but Shane Ellison as CEO and more than a few of his minions have talked about 30kmph everywhere. My point was/is that we need to draw that distinction between arterials and local roads – which so far has not been clearly drawn. I do realise that busy roads are hazardous for pedestrians, but that is where almost all of the pedestrian crossing facilities are – very few minor roads (except a few near schools) have pedestrian crossings or pedestrian refuges. I am quite happy to take part in a discussion about lowering speeds where appropriate (back streets and town centres for starters) but find it difficult to engage with those who promote a “one-size-fits-all” approach leading to 30kmph every where.

        1. Who is promoting a one size fits all 30km/h everywhere approach?

          First I’ve heard of it.

        2. Graeme,

          1/ You need to put up your calculations to support your statement “30kmph on all arterials would increase travel times across town by 60% or more”. This is a big misunderstanding on your part. What proportion of a journey along an arterial in Auckland do you think people are managing to go at the speed limit?

          2/ There has been a groundshift worldwide in what is acceptable. Cities around the world that are following the guidelines that 30 km/hr is the maximum speed limit suitable for where vulnerable users and traffic mix, are creating liveable cities. Auckland is being left behind.

          3/ Arterials need a fair bit of work; separation of vulnerable users from traffic will be needed. That takes time. Who shall we volunteer to be the victims of the crashes until all that work has been done? We can’t retain unsafe speed limits until then – knowing, as we do, that people will be seriously hurt and killed if we do! Once the roads have been “engineered up” the speed limits could be raised again if that makes sense.

          AT is not proposing blanket 30 km/hr throughout all the local roads. They probably should be. But there are certainly parts of many arterials where they will propose 30 km/hr. I’m surprised you’ve chosen to argue against it.

          If driving as a transport mode is so substandard that people can’t be required to drive at safe speeds, then we as a society must choose to shift, urgently, to other modes. Why would anyone choose to keep giving up our children’s freedom, and play Russian Roulette with our lives? And for what?

          To save a few minutes? I’d prefer to keep my children, thanks.
          To subsidise (with lives) an unhealthy economy sending the planet to its doom?

          Change is hard, and to help people make the change, education is required. People in positions of responsibility must start with educating themselves, and then turn to educating others.

      2. That’s right there is no plan for 30km/h everywhere. The AT approach is to identify all the roads that should actually have a 30km/h limit and leave those at 50km/h while instead reducing the speed limit on all of the streets that should remain at 50km/h. Why? Because they are AT.

    1. “The approach which I have long advocated is that of “taking people with you” by persuading them of the merits of a proposed change rather than simply imposing it.”

      This hasn’t worked, has it? In fact, best practice consultation involves:

      Educate, demonstrate, consult. In that order.

      Consulting on measures that the public haven’t even had a chance to try out favours the status quo. In a city with a safety crisis, that results in the safety issues remaining unresolved. For the vulnerable people falling victims – through traffic trauma or restricted lives – this means their needs aren’t being met.

      For consultation to be democratic, it must not favour the status quo: that is favouring the people who feel they benefit from things staying as they are over the people who know things must change.

      Graeme, I highly appreciate the work that you have done to try to retain sovereignty and good democratic process. I hope you can see that in the issues of transport, urban form and housing, we don’t have democracy at present. The younger generations are being disadvantaged.

    2. If people do ignore 30km/hr speed limits and do 60km/hr as they do today, if they do get caught they will be liable for a much larger fine. And if they hit someone and injure or kill them they will be much more likely to get jail time.
      People may not slow down to 30, but they will no doubt slow down considerably from their current speed.

    3. Graeme you are tilting at windmills; there is no plan anywhere that treats arterials the same as local streets or town centres. Quite the reverse, there is a complex hierarchy of roads and streets, and place and use. No blanket treatment.

    4. This grandstanding is vile. AT have clearly indicated that they are not taking a ‘blanket approach’ through their consultations to date and explicit statements on their website, during consultation, and in articles written in response to concern trolling by politicians such as John Tamihere and now Graeme.

      Please stop lying, people are dying.

      1. People are dying. So my simple question is why doesn’t AT focus on improving those parts of the transport system? Why waste political capital pissing people off in parts where there is no evidence the change will have any benefit? Don’t they have better things to do?

        1. For years now we have had safe routes to schools projects but they often stop short of providing signalised crossings on arterials because of budgets. WE naver never (or at least in the last 35 years) funded enough safe crossing points on really busy roads yet that is where the pedestrian deaths and serious injuries are. As for 30km/h speed limits why not start where it might help, like at schools, outside retirement homes and places where there are currently deaths or serious injuries. At least that way the numbers might go down. The risk AT is taking putting them where there haven’t been deaths and serious injuries is the numbers could actually go up due to random variation. Then they will make their treatment look like it was the cause of more crashes even though it isn’t.

        2. Yes, good points. And the public are wanting lower speed limits around schools, so it’s an easier political path. Also starting in the low decile areas where the deficiencies in the infrastructure are worst and the chance of a child being hit are so high.

    1. That is an excellent article, I must show it to one of my neighbours who insists slower speed limit in our road is pointless because there are so few road accidents in our neighbourhood. Not that it would make much difference to the hoon who frequently races his old rx7 with maximum noise along our road late most nights.

  12. Good piece? Bad piece:

    “And if there is a collision, the severity of injuries is a product of the velocity of the striking object and its mass. This is basic physics.”

    Basic physics says it’s 1/2 mv², i.e. proportional to the *square* of the velocity and that is why a reduction in speed has such an important effect on the outcome of a crash.

  13. I really do not understand why people get so excited about various speed limits being lower. I was almost tarred and feathered for suggesting Wattle downs should be 40 km/hr. Apparently having two schools and two retirement villages, kids playing on the street and bad sun strike in the mornings/evenings at certain times of the year (leading to at least one fatality). The elected officials do not seem interested ( no votes in that) ….so there seems to be no forum for common sense and reason.

    1. To understand it, you need to look at who’s manipulating things. Back in the summer of 2014/15, the Police ran a safer speeds campaign. It went well initially and then it didn’t, so some research was commissioned to find out why. What happened was some “key commentators and the AA” started to confuse the matter in the media. People who were exposed to the media had misconceptions about the Police’s campaign. People who were least exposed to the media understood the Police’s campaign.

      The following piece will probably make you feel ill, but it shows the power the media is having:


      “For a start, the enthusiasm for 110km/h limits on motorways shot up to 72% after the idea was debated in the media. Conversely, discussion of potentially lowering speed limits strengthened opposition to lower speed limits. Opposition to 90km/h limits increased to 76% from 65% two years ago; opposition to 40km/h limits has climbed from 60% to 68% in the same period.”

    2. I don’t understand why AT just doesn’t not implement it under a pilot project and then “consult” 6mths later at the end of the pilot.

      Myths about the sky falling in can be debunked and taken off the table, real concerns can be addressed – some having to be accepted because of the safety upside, while solutions found for the rest. My guess is that in 90% of cases everyone will wonder what all the fuss was about and live with the new status quo.

      Consulting up-front means at best the can is kicked down the road a year or, at worst, nothing is done because AT get scared.

  14. I am in favour of progressive implementation of lower speed limits provided they are rigorously enforced from day one or else we repeat the joke that is the variable speed limits of the North Western motorway. Someone in the Auckland Motorway Control Centre is dutifully dialling the speed limit down and up expecting changes in driver speed. And that happened early on. However the NW drivers quickly learned there was no enforcement so the speed limit changes are largely ignored and all that expense in gantries, lights and control processes and people is now one big white elephant. So if the enforcement agencies can only enforce 30kph on 50km of roads in Auckland we would be foolish to put 30kph across 100km of roads. Implement progressively with aligned enforcement capability.

    1. Yes — observed between Birkenhead and the Harbour Bridge as well. Overhead sign says 70. Traffic still flows at close to 100. If you actually drive 70 then congratulations, you just became an obstacle in that flow and made the likelihood of an accident around you many times greater. I’d rather not have an SUV tip over anywhere near me, thanks.

      Until the road patrol actually shows up with a speed trap. People start braking, others start swerving around, and then also braking. What a chaos. That must have been an amusing sight if you’re on the top level of a NEX bus.

      I guess mounting speed cameras on those gantries is to boring then.

      I also do not have the impression that NZTA can really be bothered with actually setting adaptive speed limits. There is an incident and a closed lane ahead, would they temporary lower the limit? Nope. There’s start/stop traffic ahead. Lower the limit? Nope.

  15. It’s hard to take this blog seriously when you talk about safety – but at the same time want to remove helmets from bikes.
    Reducing speed limits is going to make very little impact on safety as the speed is not the problem, it is human behaviour that is. Running a red light at 30 is just as bad as running one at 50. Pedestrians stepping into the road without looking is a problem regardless of the speed of the traffic.
    You are also totally out of touch with what the majority of people want and that means you have to accept the status quo.

    1. Running a red light at 30kmh has a 10% chance of killing the pedestrian using the crosswalk. Running it at 50km/h has a 50% chance of killing them.

      1. No. Ashton found a pedestrian hit at 30km/h has a 5% chance of dying, a pedestrian hit at 50km/h has a 40% risk of death. You then have to multiply both those by the chance that running a red light will result in a pedestrian being hit if you want the chances of a car running a red light will result in death.

        1. One eighth the chance of dying, then, if hit.

          And they are being hit.

          Bit of a no-brainer, really.

        2. Pretty sure a truck hitting you at 30kph is going to kill you. Regardless – the deaths caused by speed vs the total kms travelled does not justify the lowering of the speed limits.

        3. “Pretty sure a truck hitting you at 30kph is going to kill you.”

          This is not true. A bus has similar mass to a truck. My (at the time) girlfriend and three friends were hit by a bus doing 30km/h and all 4 survived.

          “It’s hard to take this blog seriously when you talk about safety – but at the same time want to remove helmets from bikes.”

          This blog is interested in health *and* safety. Life expectancy and health during lived years increases if we allow people to choose helmets.

    2. Daniel. Helmets for cyclists is a separate issue, (still worth debating though) You would advance your credibility if you put forward a reasoned case for their retention in another post. But otherwise attempting a linkage to speed limits, is just nonsensical and can be seen as another clumsy attempt by a car is king status quo advocate at diversion away from the actual subject of this debate.

      1. You often hear that bike helmets are about as effective as baseball caps at protecting cyclists in collisions with cars. Because neither of these are designed to protect you in crashes like that.

        Bike helmets are designed for the kind of impact you get when falling over (by yourself, not due to a collision) while riding at 15km/h. That could explain why you don’t wear a bike helmet on a scooter.

        More cynical people will tell you that safety was not the point. The point was simply to scare people away from riding their bicycles.

        It is easily observable that countries like the Netherlands have both no helmet law, and a much lower chance of getting killed when riding a given distance on a bicycle.

        1. Wearing or not wearing a helmet affects the drivers around the cyclist. Sadly, something which is designed to increase the safety of the cyclist (in the event of falling off and hitting one’s head) produces unsafe behaviours in drivers around the cyclist who perceive the cyclist as now more resilient/robust should they accidentally share the same space.

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