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AT speed limits bylaw a poor substitute for infrastructure

Auckland Transport’s announcement today that it will reduce speed limits on 700km of roads including a 30km/h speed limit in the CBD is a blanket approach that may have little effect on road safety at the cost of greater congestion says National Road Carriers CEO David Aitken.

“From National Road Carriers’ perspective, instead of reducing speed limits we should be focusing our attention on network integration that can contribute to improved economic performance, better quality of life for Auckland businesses and residents and better safety for transport users,” says Mr Aitken.

“We are concerned the plans for speed limits in Auckland is becoming the thin end of the wedge with far reaching national consequences. Road Controlling Authorities and central Government seem determined to reduce speeds as a substitute for road infrastructure investment.

“When you build decent roads, safety is improved. Germany has no speed limit on their autobahns and has one of the best safety records.”

Mr Aitken said National Road Carriers strongly supports road safety and interventions where all options are well considered and make a difference.

“Imposing speed limits needs to be based on research and evidence instead of ideology. We believe this approach has not been taken by AT in the introduction of its Speed Limits Bylaw 2019.”

“Research and evidence will show if a particular road does have a speed issue. If there have been no incidents or issues, why change? In this case are we looking at revenue gathering rather than safety.”

He said the 30km/h speed zone across more than 40 roads in the Auckland CBD is at odds with the Speed Management Guide (SMG), the framework for a consistent, evidence-based approach to speed management nationally, that recommends a 30km/h speed limit for only a handful of these, a 40km/h limit on most and the retention of 50km/h on others.

“In high pedestrian areas, such as Queen St, we agree with the lower speed limits. But we see no justification for the blanket 30km/h limit in the CBD as presently traffic volumes during the day dictate an average speed around 30km/h so why change?

“It will waste enforcement resources and frustrate road users that could lead to more risk taking. And if the volume isn’t there at other times of the day, we should allow the higher speed to ensure traffic keeps moving.

“Are there really safety issues on each one of these roads or is this blanket approach a superficial move to appear to be making roads safer when the real problem is the wider, more complex issue – underfunding of roading infrastructure that will actually make road users safer and road transport more efficient?”

Under the new bylaw approved today many roads in rural communities will have open road limits lowered from 100kmh to 60km/h or 80kmh.

“It seems little consideration has been given to commercial road users including freight and the economic impact these reduced speeds may have especially on major arterials into and out of the CBD and connections to major freight generators both intra and inter-city,” says Mr Aitken.

“Productivity will naturally be slowed down at these lower speeds. Reduced speeds on some roads will likely shift traffic onto alternate routes creating further congestion in these areas.”

Mr Aitken said lower speed limits may mean trucking companies have to reduce movements as the additional time taken per trip will mean drivers won’t be able to do as many trips during their legal driving hours. “Slowing down roads slows down our economy.”

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