Cyclists join call for major speed limit reductions

Cyclists and other active transport users have joined the call for a dramatic lowering of New Zealand's speed limits.

It follows a report by the International Transport Forum recommending speed limits be lowered to 70km/h on rural roads without a median barrier and 30km/h in urban areas that have vulnerable road users like cyclists.

The report also said other urban areas, including where there are intersections and a high risk of side on collisions should have a speed limit of 50km/h.

"To reduce road trauma, governments need to take actions that will reduce the speed on roads as well as speed differences between vehicles sharing the same road," the report says.

Patrick Morgan, from the Cycling Action Network, said lower speeds would reduce both the number of crashes and the consequences for those involved.

"Everyone makes mistakes sometimes, so we need to make sure that no one is seriously harmed as a result," he said. "Safer speeds are a matter of life and death."

Bevan Woodward, a transport planner for the active transport group MOVEMENT, said lowering speed limits was a cost-effective way to improve road safety.

"New Zealand's 100 km/h rural roads are often dangerous and intimidating. Every day there are crashes which cause significant delays and congestion," he said.

"Safer speeds are the most cost-effective and immediate treatment for reducing crashes and improving road safety."

However, not everyone is in favour of the change; Road Transport Forum CEO Ken Shirley told Newshub it would have a negative effect on business.

"We don't believe that's appropriate - and we think it would be disastrous from an economic point of view," he said.