Two years ago Auckland Transport embarked on a programme to change the speed limits on many roads around Auckland as part of their efforts to improve road safety. They started with changing the limits of around 700km of roads around the region, that’s about 10% of all local roads. Around 90% of those were rural roads but that 10% of urban roads included the streets in the City Centre. The changes were implemented last year.
Those changes were always intended to be just the first tranche of the programme and now AT are back consulting on the next big set of speed limit changes, this time covering around 800 roads around the region. Once again rural roads feature strongly with 208 roads on the list to be changed, this time mostly in the southeast, but the most notable urban changes proposed are to 462 roads near 57 schools.
Auckland Transport (AT) is asking for feedback on a proposal to change the speed limits of approximately 800 roads around the region.
Most of the proposed changes involve 462 roads near 57 schools around the region and 208 rural roads.
From today, AT will seek feedback on the proposal, which also includes roads in Ōtara Town Centre, residential roads in Manurewa as well as roads, mostly in Ponsonby and Freemans Bay, that have been requested by communities.
AT is legally required to investigate speed limits and, when it finds speed limits are not safe and appropriate, is legally required to make changes.
AT’s Road Safety Engineering Manager, Michael Brown, says the proposed new limits will support travel speeds that are safe and appropriate for the function, design and use of the roads.
“Improving safety around schools is an area of focus for AT as well as central government. These proposed changes will help to make it safer for children walking or cycling to school.
“Research shows there is strong community support for speed limit changes with 78 per cent of people supporting speed reductions around schools,” says Mr Brown.
Mr Brown adds that most of the proposed changes will have little impact on journey times for motorists.
“On 90 per cent of these roads, many drivers are already travelling much slower than the current speed limit due to the conditions. In rural areas, that’s often because the roads are narrow and windy. And in urban areas, it’s due to things like speed humps, congestion and knowing that the current speed limit is not appropriate.
“While most of the changes we propose will simply bring the posted speed limit into line with the speeds people are already travelling, it is important that these changes are made. Speed limits that are set too high can become a target for drivers to aim for, plus they can prevent the police from addressing those travelling at unsafe speeds.”
Mr Brown says some of the proposed changes are on high-risk roads – where there’s a greater chance of deaths or serious injuries occurring.
“In these instances, the proposed changes would create a very slight increase in journey times. For example, on Linwood Road near Karaka where speeds were changed last year, we know that a typical nine-minute journey is around 30 to 50 seconds longer. But the changes will help to reduce the chance of someone getting seriously hurt or killed.”
Most of the schools focused on for these speed limit changes are on the isthmus and and can be seen on the map below. AT say they “have prioritised the roads which already have road safety engineering measures like speed humps, or they already have low operating speeds and don’t require them“. They also say that under current legislation they can’t lower speeds unless they have added engineering measures to bring vehicle speeds down. However, that could be about to change with new legislation expected soon that will make the speed limit change process easier.
It does make me wonder how they managed to change speed limits in the city centre – also you may recall our post previewing the September board meeting and the business report noting that they are finally going to implement the engineering solutions they promised in 2019 for the Hobson/Nelson/Fanshawe Street corridors .
There are a couple of things that stand out to me with these proposed changes
- Many of these areas look like they’re almost ready-made Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. Some perhaps they only need a few bollards to stop rat-running traffic
- I don’t know why AT didn’t just do all the non-arterial roads across the central isthmus.
- It’s disappointing that AT have excluded making changes to any of the arterial roads
The majority of the remaining roads are rural ones in the southeast.
It’s good to see AT finally moving forward with this process, though I do wonder why it’s taking so long to get to this point – I recall being told the original plan was to do one big consultation like this each year.
Safety improvement also can’t come fast enough as this year has seen the number of deaths on our roads jump – over the last 12-months 62 people have lost their lives on Auckland Roads compared to 30 for the same time period last year.
Consultation on the changes is open till 14 November.