AA say Auckland speed limit proposal a step too far

4 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineDecember 12, 2018

The AA is urging Auckland Transport (AT) to take a more balanced approach to speed limit changes in Auckland in order to both improve safety and win widespread public support. It was confirmed yesterday that AT would be going out for public consultation early next year on proposed changes to speed limits across the city, which will include a blanket 30km/h speed limit for the CBD.

The AA‘s view follows a recent survey of Auckland AA members, which shows 62% of respondents either oppose or strongly oppose the idea of a 30km/h speed limit for the whole CBD, while only 16% support or strongly support (the rest are in two minds). The survey garnered more than 14,000 responses – the most ever for an AA survey in Auckland.

AA spokesman Barney Irvine says AA members are open to safer speeds in the central city, but what AT is proposing is a step too far.

“People see 30km/h as too slow to be credible on all but a very small number of CBD roads, and they‘re not at all comfortable with that becoming the default limit for the whole area.”

Irvine says there is strong justification for slower speeds on most CBD roads on safety grounds, but the AA will be pushing for reductions to 40km/h, not 30km/h.

“The Transport Agency‘s tool for setting speed limits, the Speed Management Guide, recommends 40km/h as the safe and appropriate speed for the bulk of roads in the CBD, but AT is choosing to ignore it. We think an approach based on 40km/h would be a win for road safety and a win for public support.

“Sydney and Melbourne have both moved to 40km/h CBDs to good effect and we‘ve seen it work well on Ponsonby Road here as well.”

On busy, multi-lane arterials like Hobson, Nelson and Fanshawe Streets, however, the AA will be questioning whether any speed limit reductions make sense.

“Telling people to drive at 30km/h on wide, expansive roads that have a natural driving speed of 50km/h just won‘t work – all that‘s likely to happen is that people drive above the limit at the speed that makes sense to them. Before looking at lowering the speed limit, we want to know what engineering work can be done to improve the roads so they‘re safer for everyone at current speeds.”

AA members have similar reservations about far-reaching changes proposed for a number of town centres and rural roads (57% oppose or strongly oppose a 30km/h limit in town centres, while 24% support or strongly support it), and Irvine says AT will need to follow a more targeted, evidence-based approach there too.

He says speed is an emotive and polarising issue, and building public trust and support is essential if the programme is to succeed.

“Changes need to make sense to people, and be backed up by evidence. If people don‘t see the speed limits as credible, they won‘t comply with them, and they‘ll wind up rejecting the whole programme – and that‘s not a good outcome for road safety.”