Victoria Walks has renewed the call for safer speed limits on local streets and in busy pedestrian areas as a way to encourage more people to walk and reduce crash risks.
The Safer Urban Speed Limits position paper recommends the default speed limit on local streets change from 50km/h to 40 km/h and to 30km/h in busy pedestrian areas.
Local roads are those in residential areas where people live and socialise. High pedestrian areas include busy shopping and activity strips, like the Melbourne CBD or a suburban high street.
As well as opening up streets to people and encouraging walking and bike riding, reduced speed limits can also save lives. The risk of death if someone is hit by a car at 50 km/h is more than 80 per cent, however that risk drops to less than 20 per cent at 40 km/h.
30km/h and lower speed limits can also help retailers, cafes and restaurants by making streets nicer places to be and encouraging people to spend more time. City of Melbourne has recently changed speed limits to 20km/h in its little streets with large numbers of retailers, such as Flinders Lane.
Victoria Walks executive officer Ben Rossiter said safer speed limits would bring Victoria into line with global leaders.
“Victoria’s approach to speeds and road safety is lagging behind many countries. Spain and the Netherlands are now applying 30km/h to residential streets across their entire country.”
“Councils need 30km/h as part of their toolkit to use on local shopping streets. The state government needs to get out of the way and let councils protect their communities.”
School zone expansion suggested
Victoria Walks' paper also suggests expanding low-speed school zones from the street outside the school gate to all streets within 500 metres of the school and reducing the speed limit to 30km/h.
While current school zones with 40km/h speed limits can reduce risks to children out the front of schools, it does not increase safety for children on their trip to school.
Expanded schools zones and a 30km/h speed limit would encourage more children to ride and walk to school and reduce risks when people driving might be less aware that they are near a school.
Bicycle Network is a big supporter of safer speed limits, including legislating the gold standard 30km/h limit in built up areas.
Our 2020/21 federal budget submission includes a proposal for a safe streets fund of $10 million per year that allows local councils to develop traffic calming projects, similar to Yarra City Council’s 30km/h speed zone trial in inner-Melbourne.
RACV also supports safer speed limits.
“We know that speed plays a critical role in the severity of accidents and when you’re looking at a difference of 10km/hr, that could be the difference between life or death for a pedestrian,” Senior Manager Peter Kartsidimas told the Herald Sun.
“Reducing the speed limit on streets which have high pedestrian activity and along quiet residential areas will have minimal impact on travel times, as it will only impact the few hundred metres around homes.”
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