Moving at 30kph or less in Suburban Shopping Centres.
Peter McDonald DCC Public Forum Monday June11 2012, 1.00pm
Today I am not here to ask the Council to spend money, just for a few little words that would recognise the following proposition.
Limiting vehicle speeds to 30 kph or less in Dunedin’s suburban shopping centres where the current speed limit is 50kph is a good idea.
It is safer, it is more pleasant, it is healthier, it is more sustainable, it promotes connection with the area and community feeling.
The primary safety benefit is demonstrated by the standard graph of the probability of death from a vehicle/pedestrian collision versus vehicle speed which can be found in many publications including on p54 of the Council’s document, Central Dunedin Speed Restriction Health Impact Assessment Report 2010. Approximately, at 80kph, 9 out of 10 struck pedestrians die, at 50kph about half die and at 30kph about 9 out of 10 survive. The figures vary from study to study and a more detailed analysis may be found in the Glen Koorey reference supplied in the print version of this submission. The actual safety effect of lower vehicle speeds is greater than this if the increased ability of all parties to avoid collisions is taken into account.
Reducing the speed differential makes the presence of faster vehicles less unpleasant for slower vehicle users including cyclists, skateboarders, scooter and mobility scooter users, and pedestrians through a combination of reducing obtrusiveness and threat, noise and odour. It also makes access to and egress from parking and side streets easier and less stressful for vehicle users.
Slower drivers have less need to use brakes and accelerators, releasing marginally less toxic material into the immediate environment and using marginally less fuel. Sustainability is also enhanced by lower health and vehicle repair costs.
Slower drivers have more time to appreciate their surroundings and consider the community space they are going to or from or passing through. I currently limit my speed to 30kph or less in the Gardens shopping centre environment and have been doing so for at least 18 months. As time goes by, I feel a growing inclination to recognise parts of the road network in other local communities that are similar in nature to the Gardens Village and to limit my speed in those areas as well. This does not feel like an imposition but the appropriate way to approach these local spaces with respect. The contrast is between focussing on the start and finish of the trip with “driving to the conditions” which gives consideration and weight to a very limited set of possible conditions, and being mindful of the environment that we are passing through and driving or riding in a way that is considerate of all the users in that environment.
So who else thinks 30kph in shopping centres is a good idea?
The Dunedin City Council did in 2005 or 2006 when it instituted the 30kph zone in George and Princes St with the positive results noted in its own Health Impact Assessment done in 2010 (30% reduction in all crashes, 50% reduction in serious and fatal crashes, 35% reduction in injury crashes) and appreciated by every cyclist and pedestrian who uses the area.
The most immediate example elsewhere is Wellington which is currently part way through implementing a plan to have 30kph speed limits in 21 suburban shopping centres. 30kph speed limits have been approved for 9 centres and implemented in 4 according to the City Council’s website.
In Europe, another increasingly common approach to road safety is to match speed limits
and road environments, based on the potential damage and survivability of a situation,
so, where pedestrians and cyclists are present (e.g. residential areas), the limit is 30 km/h. In Munich Germany, 80% of the street network is in 30kph zones.
The standard approach to achieving these lower speeds is well illustrated in the Wellington case, measure actual traffic speeds, institute traffic calming techniques and remeasure actual speeds, ... when actual speeds are much closer to 30kph (in Wellington, 35kph or less), a 30kph speed limit can be instituted. This is not without cost and, like most Dunedin ratepayers, I am well aware that the Council is pretty much on the bones of its bum – cushioned only by the bones of the ratepayers bums and regards lower urban speed limits as nice to have but not any sort of priority.
So what am I asking the Council to do? The proposal is that: The Council explicitly and publicly, that is in the necessary official documents, espouse a policy that the appropriate maximum traffic speed in an areas important to local communities such as shopping precincts, in recognition of the multiple values that such road space has, is 30kilometres per hour.
A suggested wording:
for reasons of safety, integrating motor vehicle traffic with the immediate environment in appropriate areas and sustainability, the desirable speed range for all vehicle traffic (emergency vehicles excepted) in school or shopping precincts is 30kph or less.
A suitable location might be in the Strategy sub section of an updated Transportation Strategy, which would be due for publication in 2013 if the spacing between the last two Council reviews is maintained.
The cost is ... not great but it would encourage those of us who already voluntarily choose to recognise the community spaces we are visiting or passing through by slowing down; assist us in recruiting and growing our numbers and eventually providing settings within which it would be politically attractive and relatively easy for the Council to establish and post lower speed limits. It would encourage local communities to look at ways of making those significant areas more obvious.
That is what I am looking for. The Council's cupboard is bare so it is time for Dunedin folk to consider what they can do for themselves to improve the atmosphere and resilience of their local communities. I suggest that one strategy that can be easily adopted by any individual who drives or rides a vehicle, is to commit to keeping their speed to a 30kph maximum in their local shopping precinct. This in some ways an extension of the Pace Car programme which forms part of David Engwicht’s suite of traffic calming and community building measures.
What I am trying to do is to get the Council’s support in fostering an awareness of the many benefits of lower vehicle speeds in our community spaces as a foundation for further work by both Council and communities to develop local areas that are safer and more pleasant and more friendly to use by all. A small step for now, a policy statement.
References and Links:
Central Dunedin Speed Restriction Health Impact Assessment Report 2010
by Dunedin City Council (Authors from DCC and PHS)
IMPLEMENTING LOWER SPEEDS IN NEW ZEALAND Dr Glen Koorey, BE(Hons), BSc, ME, PhD, MIPENZ
NZTA Senior Lecturer in Transportation Engineering, University of Canterbury, Christchurch
Wellington City Council links.
The work of David Engwicht on tools for reclaiming streetscapes as part of a local community including the Pace Car concept.
Cycling Advocates Network supports slower speeds:
Speed Limits for Urban Areas September 2008
Peter McDonald, 6 Arden St, NEV, 9010; 4731681, email@example.com