Chch should embrace speed restrictions - expert

By Cassandra Mason

Christchurch's new transport plan is inconsistent, says a visiting expert. Photo / Geoff Sloan
Christchurch's new transport plan is inconsistent, says a visiting expert. Photo / Geoff Sloan

The draft plan for Christchurch's new transport system appears to be inconsistent and "misses opportunities", says a University of Canterbury transport expert.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) recently released the draft, An Accessible City, as part of its central recovery plan.

The plan calls for an "affordable, resilient, environmentally sustainable and practical" transport system for the city, with a big picture vision including future road layouts, public transport, pedestrian access and speed zones.

Yet University of Canterbury (UC) professor Simon Kingham says the part of the plan which allows for cars to travel at 50kph in cycle priority zones is an oversight.

"There is a wealth of evidence that shows that reducing the speed of vehicles from 50kph to 30kph significantly reduces the risk of a pedestrian or cyclist dying in a collision with a car.

"In the UK, reducing speed limits to 30kph is a growing trend and this reduction has been described as the most cost effective way to improve quality of life."

More than half of road deaths and serious injuries in the UK happen on roads with 50kph speed limits, says Kingham.

Lowering urban and residential speed limits to 30kph has also been found to increase urban journeys by a maximum of only 40 seconds, he says.

Research conducted by the New Zealand Transport Agency shortly before the earthquakes showed Christchurch residents saw safety as the main barrier to cycling.

The plan now has an opportunity to provide a safer environment for cyclists, says Kingham.

"Why don't we reduce the speed limit for the whole central city to 30kph? Why stop there, why not do it in all residential streets too? Let us too reap the benefits of the most cost effective way to improve quality of life."

- nzherald.co.nz

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