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Slower speeds coming for Hamilton school zones

Slower speeds coming for Hamilton school zones

31 JANUARY 2008

For Immediate Release

40km/h variable speed zones have arrived at 18 Hamilton primary and intermediate schools, highlighting another dimension to Council’s road safety initiatives as school returns for term one. The 40km/h variable speed zones programme will be launched on Tuesday [5 Feb] at Fairfield Intermediate School by Hamilton mayor Bob Simcock and Minister of Transport Hon. Annette King.

Council adopted the 40km/h variable speed zone programme around schools under its Speed Limit Bylaw this month [January 2008], having satisfied the national guidelines and requirements of Land Transport New Zealand (LTNZ).

Transport committee chairman councillor Dave Macpherson says the launch of the $350,000 40km/h variable speed zone programme jointly funded by Council and LTNZ demonstrates Council’s commitment to road safety initiatives and providing safe school journeys.

“The impetus behind this new traffic calming practice is to provide a safer road environment outside Hamilton schools, reinforce driver expectations as to the likely presence of children in the area and encourage safe, active travel to school.

“Council is committed to encouraging school children to walk and cycle to school as an alternative to being driven and the adoption of the 40km/h variable speed limit in local school zones aims to achieve a safer journey to school for students.

“Council intends for all Hamilton schools to have the 40km/h zones and will be working to convince Land Transport New Zealand that the safety improvements delivered by the lower speeds are needed by all schools. As Hamilton’s road network continues to reach capacity at peak times, the criteria on which the 18 launch schools were selected needs to reflect the changing face and needs of Hamilton’s road network and subsequent road safety issues around schools.”

The 40km/h variable speed limit programme has been trialled with strong success in New Zealand’s major city centres. Council is partnering with police to enforce this practice at the 18 selected Hamilton schools. While there will be a short period for drivers to adjust police will enforce the speed limit zones without hesitation. The message will be clear that 40km/h means exactly that.

School areas in which the 40km/h speed zone applies will have digital and static signs in place to notify drivers of when this speed limit is in operation.

Transportation unit manager Roger Ward says that road safety in school zones is a significant component of Council’s transportation initiatives.

“Making the transport network in school zones safer is a key element of Council’s ongoing commitment and response to road safety issues. Implementation of the 40km/h variable speed zones around 18 local schools responds to this road safety issue.

“The hours of operation for the 40km/h speed limit will vary depending on the start and finish times of each individual school. As a rule, though, the 40km/h variable speed limit will operate 35 minutes before the start of school and 20 minutes after school. Schools to which the 40km/h variable speed limit applies can also elect to implement this for a 10 minute timeframe when there will be large numbers of people crossing to attend a school-related activity or function.

“The 18 schools at which the 40km/h variable speed limit is being launched were selected according to criteria set by Land Transport New Zealand, being speed, vehicle volume, pedestrian and vehicle activity, school travel planning, walking school buses and the surrounding environment. Council assessed all schools throughout Hamilton against these criteria and the 18 selected schools were prioritised on the basis of the results.”

In conjunction with the 40km/h variable speed zones programme eight schools in the programme are also participating in Council’s school travel programme which seeks to minimise congestion around school gates through road safety education and increasing sustainable travel behaviour, e.g., walking, cycling, carpooling, etc. Every term the Back to School awareness programme reminds motorists to look out and think for children going back to school and reminds those dropping and picking kids up to do it safely and the multi road agency Give a Damn campaign will focus for six weeks on vulnerable road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and 40km/h zones.


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