Slow down Newtown

A spot of good news last week: many of the streets in Wellington’s suburb of Newtown went from a 50km/hour to 40km/hour speed limit.

I reckon Newtown is probably one of the Greenest suburbs in New Zealand.  Its polling booths attract upwards of 20 percent for the Greens in national elections, and it is located in one of the only wards New Zealand to elect a Green Party city councillor, Celia Wade-Brown.  The result is, according to another councillor, Hayley Wain:

“The proposal to lower the speed limits on these roads went out for public consultation last year, and the vast majority of respondents favoured the proposal with many even requesting it be reduced further to 30km/h,”

So maybe 30kmph is something we can look forward to soon.

I’m not a Newtown resident, but it is my local shopping centre and I pass through it on my way to and from work every day.  It’s the kind of place where people wander out onto the road, often with a cheerful belief that traffic will make allowances, cars pull out of little side streets and cyclists try to navigate their way through sometimes congested traffic.  Changing to 40kmph is a simple, free way of recognising that Newtowns streets are as much about buses, pedestrians and cyclists as they are about cars.  So, great work Wellington City Council.

2 thoughts on “Slow down Newtown

  1. Awesome. Most urban Wellington streets could/should be 30-40km/h with no problems.

    The cycle lanes in Newtown need improvement though – they’re only halfhearted, and dangerous as a result. Sadly.

  2. 30 km/h is already a popular speed limit in seaside towns such as Marahau. With the amount of intersections in residential areas there probably isn’t much real difference in travel times from having a lower speed limit.

    These risk-based speed limits are what the Department of Transport asked Parliament to introduce in the 1930s. Despite the measurable crash reductions achieved by curve advisory speed signs on the Guinerpig Highway project in the late 1950s our politicians persisted with blanket speed limits until 2005. Mind you, politicians today are still claiming that the Road Safety 2010 Strategy has a target of no more than 300 road deaths in 2010 when the actual target is 6.1 deaths per billion km travelled. The 300 death target assumed that the price of petrol would drop back to $1.00 a litre leading to a continuation of the 1990s traffic growth rates resulting in 50 billion km travelled on our roads in 2010. Of course we all know what happened to the price of petrol and what has happened to traffic growth. With less than 45 billion km driven on our roads last year the target should have been corrected to no more than 250 deaths in 2010. The study published by Harvard Medical School last year indicates that the higher fuel prices will have reduced recreational and youth travel sufficiently to reduce the road toll by at least 10% and possibly as much as 20% for youths so the progress that has been made this decade can be attributed almost entirely to higher fuel prices and safer cars. But these facts will never get in the way of politicians claiming victory if next years road toll is only 300.

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