15 July 2022

40 km/h suburban streets could be part of Canberra's active travel future

| Lottie Twyford
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Speed camera

The controversial introduction of 40 km/h speed zones on Northbourne Avenue and parts of the city centre led to thousands of motorists being fined. Photo: Region Media.

The ACT Government will consult with the community on changing the speed limit from 50 km/h to 40 km/h in suburban local streets and trial partial street closures and chicanes in an attempt to encourage more active travel.

Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel released the government’s draft active travel plan on Thursday (14 July).

It contained a range of measures aimed at encouraging a greater take-up of travel options such as walking, cycling, e-scootering and skateboarding.

Lowering speed limits to 40 kilometres an hour, as has notoriously taken place on Northbourne Avenue and in other parts of the city centre, has been a bone of contention for many Canberrans who have been hit with – in some cases – multiple speeding fines.

Slower zones were also introduced in Tuggeranong and Braddon to make the roads friendlier for pedestrians and other road users.

The government said the introduction of the slower speed zones has already led to a reduction in crashes.

READ ALSO Reliability and weekend services behind bus driver recruitment effort

Currently, suburban local streets are 50 km/h unless signposted otherwise.

Community consultation on changing speed limits in the suburbs will take place next year as part of the government’s next Road Safety Action Plan.

The plan said the government is continuing to strengthen dangerous driving laws to protect vulnerable road users and is reviewing speed cameras to provide recommendations on further actions to improve road safety.

It acknowledged legislation alone would not be enough to promote safety and that regular community education campaigns would also be necessary.

READ ALSO ACT Budget: More red lights to make intersections safer in $24 million roads package

The draft plan also proposed changing infrastructure requirements so Canberra’s streets are more vibrant and less car rides would need to be taken.

These changed requirements would ensure new suburbs had good active travel infrastructure so new residents could form good habits from the get-go.

As part of the changes, streets would be retrofitted to make it more appealing to walk and cycle though the built environment.

A best practice guide would also be developed for intersections to separate walkers, cyclists and drivers and to ensure the latter turn slowly.

It also plans to work with e-scooter operators to introduce concession pricing, explore a shared e-bike scheme and provide bike parking cages in every town centre.

READ ALSO E-bike library expanding so more Canberrans can try some easy riding and cut fuel bills

Mr Steel said the first priority in the plan was building separate infrastructure for walking and cycling.

“We think that this is the fundamental barrier to getting more people active, walking and riding in Canberra,” he said.

“We’re also proposing to prioritise better walking and cycling connections, secure bike parking and a range of targeted programs to encourage people to use active travel and public transport more often.”

If the ACT is to achieve net zero emissions by 2045, it’s estimated an additional 40–45 per cent of car journeys would need to shift to active travel and public transport.

In 2017, about 20 per cent of all trips in the Territory were active travel.

Canberrans can have their say on the draft Active Travel Plan via the YourSay Conversations website.

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I whole-heartedly disagree with the proposal.
But having said that, this Government has repeatedly been voted in by the population of the ACT over the last two decades.
We are getting exactly what we voted for.
Please, stop complaining about the socialist Government being a socialist Government.

We recently moved to the ACT from Sydney. Since living here i find Canberran streets are dying my head in. There are far too many changes in speed limits, most make no sense to me at all. The 40km zones make the least sense of all. They are largely poorly advertised 0to drivers but the biggest risk i see is the proliferation of e-scooter or e-bike riders who are drunk or do not comply with road rules. Drivers are paying for these roads but the new target users pay little and have even less accountability. I won’t be supportive of the proposal to set more roads to 40km per hour.

Alex Smorhun10:10 pm 17 Jul 22

Much to slow and achieves nothing. Next rule: drivers must push their vehicles in the suburbs.

Minister Steele, if you want me to walk instead of driving, you’ll have to reduce suburban speed limit to 5kph, because that’s how fast I walk.
At 40kph, I’m still driving, because it’s 8 times faster than walking.

This is such pathetic bureaucratic overreach from a govt who have no idea how to fill their coffers other than from land sales and speeding fines. I avoid going to civic because the speed limit is so ridiculous. Small business must love it

ridiculous .but you wouldnt expect anything less from cm barr and his clowns
barr has destroyed and once nice place to live and work

The commentariat here at The Riot Act could easily pass for that of the lower echelon of the Murdoch rags. I hope this does not reflect the overall readership level.

Chris Steel and co how do you get to and from work every day? A work car provided to you I bet. Maybe when you all ditch your cars and travel everyday day using public transport you will see how long it actually takes. Standing at the front of a bus or on a scooter for a photo opportunity is a lot different to the real thing

Douglas Renton7:26 am 16 Jul 22

I don’t pay rego to walk! I can’t see many people wishing to adopt “active travel” in the middle of a Canberra winter either.
As for more 40km speed zones the peak hour commute will become worse. Build more roads not bike lanes

The illusion of consultation, its already a done deal.

Its not about travel or they’d be sorting out the bus network (which wont be changed until 4th Qtr this year).
Who benefits from this other than developers and those already invested in the city.
40km/h speed limits make the outer suburbs less desirable while promoting Canberra as a city of childless or barren sheeple.
Slowly we’re experiencing the genocide of the Canberra homeowner nuclear family.
Unless you fit the new mold you don’t deserve to live here.
It should be noted that whenever the government installs traffic calming devices they inevitably screw it royally for buses and block paths. No doubt they’ll just throw away more routes than avoid admitting their mistake.

Linda Seaniger9:18 pm 15 Jul 22

I now avoid civic as much I can. 40 km and so many slow red lights to accommodate the tram it’s ridiculous. I’ve also given up catching the bus in to Civic to catch the interstate buses Because the bus about 50 m from my door is no longer a rapid bus and I can’t drag my suitcase 850 m to the main road to catch a rapid bus. I drive to the Central Coast now and at age 66 I hate the M1 motorway it’s like driving a Grand Prix and by public transport the journey that’s about 7 hours. If you asked me ICT‘s transport design is purely to accommodate the young and fit.

thefionahamer7:13 pm 15 Jul 22

The bike lanes on Northbourne Avenue are lethally narrow. I wouldn’t ride on them. How come that wasn’t thought through when the light rail was built?

thefionahamer7:09 pm 15 Jul 22

I lived for a decade in a place with 40km/hr speed limits pretty much everywhere, and it wasn’t particularly safe. I’m not against the 40km/hour speed limits, and definitely in favour of taking some space from cars and giving to pedestrians. I’m addicted to Not Just Bikes and the potential for better and more thoughtful design to make our street much more hospitable to people. https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2021/9/7/not-just-bikes-the-wrong-way-to-set-speed-limits-new-video

Bennett Bennett6:53 pm 15 Jul 22

Ideas like this make me want to leave Canberra more and more. I couldn’t imagine any reasonable reason why 50kmh needs to be reduced any further seeing as Canberra has not changed in any significant way. Are there statistics that suggest a huge increase in safety or financial benefit? Can we please have a government that doesn’t continuously come up with ad-hoc changes which serve no real purpose? This town is becoming ever increasingly stupid. I can’t handle it.

HiddenDragon6:32 pm 15 Jul 22

The promised consultation on what has obviously already been decided will be with the usual collection of cranks, control freaks, nutjobs and zealots who won’t be happy until we’re back to what Vic Hughes reminded us of at 6.14pm.

The claim that – “If the ACT is to achieve net zero emissions by 2045, it’s estimated an additional 40–45 per cent of car journeys would need to shift to active travel and public transport.” – is either based on a very pessimistic projection of EV adoption, or perhaps it factors in the true environmental costs of producing, shipping to Australia and, eventually, disposing of EVs…….?

Just another way to raise revenue, what a joke.

Labor governments live on debt, as its used as control.
Its also something they never care to pay off.
Money of others is the lubrication that keeps their twisted gears in motion.

This is more about socialist policy and control than money.
If they want more cash they raise rates and are doing so.

Most of the new laws they do have to be laws because the average person wouldn’t want to do it. If the average person wouldn’t do it, why is it a law? why do we have laws that the average person doesn’t agree with?

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