Vision and Principles of the Safer Speed Plan
Spokes Canterbury strongly supports the vision and principles of the Safer Speed Plan.
The research is clear that speed is a factor in death and serious injury and the risk is significantly reduced by lowering speeds in neighbourhood streets. There is now growing evidence in Aotearoa, confirming international research, that reducing speeds has a significant impact on reducing deaths and serious injuries.
Pedestrian and cyclists are more vulnerable to harm. Research by Auckland Transport showed that nearly half of people who die or seriously injured on Auckland roads are walking (18%), cycling (8%), or riding a motorcycle (20%).
Reducing speed has many benefits including:
- Encouraging more people to cycle and walk as they feel safer
- Encouraging parents to allow their children to walk or cycle to school independently
- Fewer people seriously injured or killed, which has a flow on effect on families, our health and wellbeing, our health and court systems, and business productivity.
- Fewer animals seriously injured or killed
- Less noise.
- Lower emissions and pollution. Higher emissions are created when a vehicle repeatedly breaks and accelerates. (Research has found that in urban areas the optimum speed limit to minimise emissions for small petrol cars is 28.2km/h. For larger vehicles, diesels and SUVs, CO2 emissions are minimised with a maximum speed of 20km/h. Prof Simon Kingham, Nov 2022)
- Lower speed limits have also been shown to reduce health inequalities. One of the UK’s most eminent experts, Oxford University’s Professor Danny Dorling, said a 20 mile per hour (30km/h) speed limit was “the most effective thing a local authority can do to reduce health inequalities”. In Aotearoa, road injury and death disproportionately affect Māori, younger people and low-income communities.
- Making Christchurch and Banks Peninsula a more desirable place to live, work and play makes good economic sense.
- Showing the World that Christchurch is serious about climate action and adaptation in time for the 8th Adaptation Futures Conference (AF2025) in 2025, which is part of the United Nations World Adaptation Science Programme (WASP) to be held at Te Pae.
Christchurch Central City 30km/h Zone Impact
The Christchurch Central City 30km/h Zone has worked. There has been a reduction in serious injuries. If the speed limit had remained 50km/h 17 additional people per year would have been injured of killed (Glen Korey, 2023 Australasian Road Safety Conference).
International studies concur. A study of the implementation of the London City 20 mph (32Km/h) zone found a 61% reduction in total injuries, but a 70% reduction in child pedestrian injuries, and a 48% reduction in child cyclist injuries (Cairns J. J., et al. 2014)
Some of the common misconceptions are:
“It does not improve safety as accidents still happen”
- Accidents will continue to happen but the consequences will be much less severe. In Papanui (see fig 4) where streets were reduced to a mixture of 30, 40 and 50km/h, crashes reduced 9% per year however injuries reduced 44% due to lower speeds.
“You need to fix the roads and focus on bad drivers instead!”
- It is not just bad drivers. Everybody makes mistakes. “If all road users followed all the rules, fatalities would only fall by around 50% and injuries by 30%” (Glen Koorey, 2023)
- Safety improvements to roads and intersections continue to be made and have a positive impact, however it is not practically or financially possible to fix all of our roads.
- Police and cameras cannot be everywhere and fines do not deter bad drivers
“It takes a lot longer to get somewhere and impacts on productivity”
- Research has shown that people over estimate the extra time taken.
- The productivity of those injured or killed, their whānau, friends and colleagues should to also be taken into account, as should the productivity of the health, police and court systems.
- Slower speed reduces stress which actually increases productivity. Cycling is even better at reducing stress and is more likely to happen when people feel safe.
- The vision and principles of slower speeds is sound.
- Success is focusing on reducing mean speeds, not 100% compliance from all drivers. Any reduction in speed is a safety win.
Three-Year Implementation Plan
Spokes strongly supports the three-year (and ten-year) implementation plan for all suburbs.
Spokes prefers that most streets are reduced to 30km/h or lower as research shows this has the most cost/benefit for all.
Priority should go to:
- Safe ways for children to independently get to schools, recreation and sport facilities and libraries
- Safe shopping areas
- Areas with high numbers of Māori, younger people and low-income communities who are more likely to be involved in crashes
- Areas where residents mostly welcome the changes. This allows others to see the benefits.
- Consistency rather than every road different so that drivers are aware of the speed limit. The default should be 30km/h unless otherwise indicated.
- Clearly delineating which roads are 30km/h local roads and 40km/h arterials roads in ways that encourage drivers to stay on arterial roads rather than trying to rat run through slower speed areas.