Bevan Woodward wants 30km/h speed limits on residential Auckland roads

Auckland Transport has confirmed plans to make the CBD a 30km/h speed limit, which has been welcomed with open arms by one enthusiastic Aucklander. 

"This is a real passion for me," says Bevan Woodward, the project director behind the city's cycling and walking path across the Harbour Bridge, SkyPath. "Safer speed limits may not sound particularly sexy, but they have massive benefits." 

Mr Woodward wants 30km/h speed limits on all residential streets and 80km/h or less on rural roads. He says it will decrease the number of crashes and reduce crash severity. People don't realise lower speed limits are "key to reducing traffic congestion," he adds. 

Auckland Transport wants to drop speed limits on 700km, or about 10 percent, of Auckland's roads to thwart an increase in the number of serious crashes in the city. Busy Auckland City roads such as Newmarket's Broadway will have their speed limit reduced to 30 or 40km/h. 

While just 2.2 percent of serious crashes occurred in Auckland's CBD between 2013 and 2017, there have been a significant number of road accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists in the CBD, Heart of the City chief executive Vic Beck told NZME. 

Mr Woodward hopes the reduced speed limits will also encourage people to trade their use of cars for public transport and walking. He said safe traffic speeds "create a virtuous cycle reducing our dependency on private motor vehicles."

Auckland Transport wants to drop speed limits on 700km, or about 10 percent, of Auckland's roads.
Auckland Transport wants to drop speed limits on 700km, or about 10 percent, of Auckland's roads. Photo credit: Getty

Secondly, he said, intersections, which are "typically the main source of congestion," work better with lower speeds. There will be fewer crashes at intersections, he says, which means "higher throughput at intersections without signals, and reduced need for traffic lights."

Auckland Transport's announcement has also been welcomed by road safety charity Brake. It said in a statement that 30km/h speed limits will help save lives and reduce injuries, protect people on foot and using bikes, and encourage more active travel. 

"Research shows that 30km/h limits in communities reduce the number of deaths and injuries and result in an increase in the number of people walking and cycling in those areas," said Brake's New Zealand director Caroline Perry. 

Ms Perry told The AM Show in August children, elderly, and people with disabilities are most at risk when they're out on the street and should be protected by lower speed limits. While she admits not all road accidents are related to speed, she says it's a common factor.  

Reducing speed limits in Auckland is bound to bother many driving enthusiasts; with the risk that commuting could take longer. But Mr Woodward says safe speeds are the "foundation of a more efficient, safer and sustainable transport system."

"The reduction in crashes and congestion means travel time reliability improves. This is of huge value to businesses with supply chain logistics to manage."