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Golden Mile slow zones receive mixed reviews

Jul 15th, 2010 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

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WATCH OUT: Hayley Jordan says pedestrians put themselves in danger.

INNER-CITY residents are divided over whether lower speed limits on more of the capital’s streets will prevent accidents involving pedestrians.

As Wellington City Council prepares to extend  the speed restrictions that apply in Lambton Quay and Willis St to include the “Golden Mile” through to Courtenay Pl, it is seeking the public’s views.

The Wellington Inner City Residents’ and Business Association supports any council attempts to make inner-city streets safer. “A major attraction for Wellington is its accessibility and walkability,” president Gus Charteris says.

Mr Charteris hadn’t heard anything about the speed-limit reductions, but says he would certainly back them.

With Manners Mall becoming a bus lane, the council now aims to accommodate lack of pedestrian space and ensure pedestrian safety, by lowering the speed limit to 10km/h along lower Cuba St. It proposes a 30km/h the limit on Courtenay Pl, Manners St, parts of Taranaki and Tory Sts, and surrounding side streets.

Mr Charteris says 10km/h on lower Cuba St “definitely makes sense” as it would make the shared area safer for pedestrians – but, he adds, “you’re always going to get some silly people who just walk without looking”.

Among those commenting during the Manners Mall bus-lane consultation, several said they opposed a reduced speed limit for Cuba St.

One submitter said making lower Cuba St pedestrian-only would be more efficient, as cars could enter and exit the area from Wakefield St and people would still have their pedestrian-only safe area.

Another suggested that reducing parallel parking spaces would help improve safety.

Inner-city based student Jack Farrell says he walks through these streets daily and finds that people drive responsibly already.

Student Hayley Jordan, also based in the city centre, says changing the speed limit may not be effective, as often it is the pedestrians who put themselves in danger.

“As long as both pedestrians and drivers follow the ‘green man’ or green light, there should be no problem, really. It seems that everyone is just so impatient.”

The city council says in the past five years, the Golden Mile has had a high incidence of road crashes, in which 59 people were injured and 41 involved a pedestrian.

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GOLDEN MILE: Lower speed zones likely to be extended.

Outlining the proposal, the council says four of the city’s 10 worst accident black spots are in this area.

“Pedestrians have been shown to have a 90 percent chance of survival when struck by a car travelling at 30km/h or below, but less than 50 percent chance of surviving an impact of 45km/h.”

In 2006 the speed limit was lowered to 30km/h along Lambton Quay, Willis St, and surrounding streets.

Speeds in the city centre need to match the needs of the pedestrian, as pedestrians form the majority using the area, says an April 2006 report to the strategy and policy committee that considered the Lambton changes.

The report’s author, council safe and sustainable transport manager Paul Barker, says surveys show there has been good compliance with the Lambton and Willis lower limits. Under the latest plan, “we expect to get a further reduction in speed and a consequential improvement in safety”.

About 200 written submissions are expected and the majority received so far have been positive, Mr Barker says.

Oral submissions will be heard on August 12 with a report back to the strategy and policy committee on September 16.

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