Taranaki town pushes ahead with lowering fixed speed limits around schools

Taranaki town pushes ahead with lowering fixed speed limits around schools
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A small Taranaki town of Stratford is going ahead with lowering fixed speed limits near 10 schools, despite the government's intention to introduce variable speed limits around schools by the end of the year.

Stratford District Council (SDC) said the new fixed limits, of either 30 or 60km/h, start from Monday 6 May.

They would make the area safer for children, school staff, and families, SDC roading manager Stephen Bowden said.

The new limits are fixed, meaning they will be in place 24 hours a day.

They were adopted by the council last year after consulting with the community, and before the change in government.

Under the previous Labour-led government work was being carried out by NZTA Waka Kotahi to lower the speed limit near schools to 30km/h.

But in December, under the new National-led government, Transport Minister Simeon Brown said NZTA had been directed to stop work on the speed reductions for schools. The government was instead working toward a new land transport policy to be signed off by the end of the year, which would include variable speed limits at schools - for pick-up and drop-off times only, rather than around the clock - to ensure a transport system to get people to places faster, boosting productivity and economic growth.

However SDC said setting up variable speed limits with different speeds at different times of the day would have cost up to $10,000 for each digital sign. While children and families frequently arrived at or left schools outside the main pick-up and drop-off times, and the fixed speed limits would protect them too.

"Many families are taking advantage of school playgrounds and facilities outside of school hours and it's great to know that these community spaces will be a little safer 24/7," Bowden said.

The lower speed zones would help children build their confidence to bike and walk to school, he said.

"We've heard from parents who aren't confident letting their kids try biking or scootering to school, and lowering speed limits around kura can help to give a bit of reassurance.

"It might seem like a bit of an inconvenience to motorists, but it'll have a big positive impact on children. As a driver, I think that's worth an extra moment in the car."

The Stratford schools with new speed zones are:

New 30km/h zones

Avon School (was 50km/h)

Midhirst School, Erin Street and Denmark Terrace (was 50km/h)

Stratford Primary School (was 40km/h variable)

Stratford High School (was 50km/h)

St Joseph's Primary School (was 50km/h)

St Mary's Diocesan School, Pembroke Road West frontage (was 50km/h)

Makahu School, Mangaehu Road frontage (was 100km/h)

New 60km/h zones

Pembroke School, along the crossroad approaches (was 100km/h)

Marco School, Marco Road frontage (was 100km/h)

Ngaere School, Cheal Road frontage (was 100km/h)