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ACT Gov behind the times, again

By Sgt.Bungers - 24 December 2009 28

A recent post about the ACT Gov considering 40km/h zones in pedestrian areas, stirred up a bit of debate about nannying.

Australian research shows that a person who is hit by a car at 60km/h, has a 75% chance of being killed. At 50km/h, 38%. At 40km/h <20%. At 30km/h, <10%. Yet many residential streets in the ACT still have 60km/h zones. We tell kids to stick to the footpath and nature strips… stay off the road… no worries… except many Canberrans have no dramas with illegally parking on foot paths and nature strips in order to keep the road clear. Forcing pedestrians, kids on bikes, people in wheelchairs, onto the road to go around their blocked path, is apparently not considered an issue, and less important than keeping their car off the road to enable people in cars to pass through at high speed?

Our CBD, naturally a pedestrian heavy area, still has pedestrian unfriendly roads with 60km/h speed limits (Northbourne, London Cct, Barry Drive, and particularly Marcus Clarke Street).

Meanwhile, the US has had 25mph (40km/h) residential streets for decades, and authorities in Europe and the UK are already implementing blanket 30km/h zones in residential streets. Melbourne CBD has had 30km/h streets for years, and the folk up in QLD have had 40km/h zones in Brisbane for some time… not bad considering they're generally stuck in the 70's in regards to everything else 🙂

In some European cities, the benefits found from returning the streets to pedestrians through blanket shared zones and removal of all traffic control devices, have been results of up to 95% decrease in fatalities, ~25% decrease in travel time for those who must drive, as well as local businesses doing better, given more people walking around means more people wandering into shops. (A typical design; think of Canberra’s city walk with just a little bit of clutter removed so cars may pass through slowly ie: Drivers travel at walking pace.) Major roads running near to major pedestrian areas are not converted to shared zones, however the ease for pedestrians to cross is considered and engineered into the road. A pedestrian having to wait more than 60 seconds for a light to change is considered unacceptable… a far cry from the up to 5-6 minutes, that is legally crossing Northbourne Ave using pedestrian signals. Imagine if a person in a car, the only vehicle on the road, attempting to traverse 100 metres, had to wait up to 6 minutes to legally do so due to traffic light timings… there would be uproar! Yet it is acceptable practice to make pedestrians wait this long in Canberra’s CBD?

My 2c: Do we need 40km/h zones on CBD streets? No… they should’ve been in place decades ago. We need education programs for everyone. Education is key. We need shared zones with a speed limit of walking pace in the CBD and high density housing areas. We need CBD roads to be ripped up and redesigned with pedestrian ease of access coming first, cyclists coming second, motor vehicle drivers coming third, given this is the most successful strategy at reducing road trauma worldwide. We need 50km/h zones on existing wider residential streets, and 30km/h zones on narrower back streets. We need penalties of several hundred dollars and points for endangering pedestrian lives by parking on the foot path, not the measly ~$80 fine that exists at the moment. In short the ACT needs a complete new way of thinking when it comes to road safety. Problems can’t be fixed using the same logic that created them.

The ACT Gov is attempting to get people out of their cars and onto their feet or onto bikes, good idea, the benefits of more exercise and less pollution are well known. IMHO, the first step should not have been to eliminate car parks and raise parking fees in the CBD, that has just bred resentment… the first step should have been to create a pleasant environment for pedestrians and cyclists at the expense of high speed for motorists. Not the setup that we currently have, where pedestrians and cyclists are considered a nuisance who shouldn’t be anywhere near a road.

More info on the worldwide push for 30km/h residential streets:

What’s Your opinion?

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28 Responses to
ACT Gov behind the times, again
Mordd 6:05 pm 27 Dec 09

I support this idea 100% on the basis that canberran drivers are so comfortable with a good road system and so willing to break the rules anyway when they think it is safe, that the only way to get most people to drive at 60 is to make the limit 40, so im for this idea 100%.

Lenient 5:07 pm 27 Dec 09

40km/h is fine for most suburban roads. By the time you are off the 60/80km/h intersuburban or the 60km/h intra suburban routes you are seconds away from your destination (either that or you’re rat running). 40km/h makes little difference compared to 50km/h over the very short distance at the beginning or end of every journey.

Anna Key 10:52 pm 26 Dec 09

This is typical anti-ALP propoganda from Liberal party stooges, or are stories and comments only partisan if the criticise the Libs???

JC 10:02 pm 26 Dec 09

The UK is 30MPH not 30km/h. As for our streets and your melodrama, sure some residential streets have 60km/h limits, but these are generally the main suburban roads that do have good footpaths where the issues you raise above are not of concern. The smaller suburban streets are 50km/h which is good enough.

As for the CBD you mention roads like Marcus Clarke, Northborne, Barry Drive and London circuit. well unless I am mistaken the only time pedestrians come in contact with the road is when crossing it, controlled by lights. You don’t need 50km/h in these situations. You compare to other cities such as Brisbane and Melbourne, if you have ever been to these places you would see the roads are different, there are more people so a lower figure may well be sensible. It doesn’t mean it should be the case here.

You also seem to ignore that many roads in the ACT with a 60km/h limit in Sydney for example would have a 70km/h limit. You also forgot one stat. Vehicles moving at 0km/h produce 0 fatalities and injury’s. Maybe we should aim for this figure rather than 40 or 30 as you suggested.

bd84 5:46 pm 26 Dec 09

In peak hours the traffic on most of those roads in the CBD area is unlikely to reach speeds greater than 40/50kph due to to being gridlock. Lowering the speed limits in these areas would more than likely cause more traffic chaos rather than anything else, which wouldn’t make it much safer for any users.

Blingerific 5:41 pm 26 Dec 09

The speed limits are only as useful as the systems that enforce them. And in the ACT there are none. The 40km/h limits around Canberra are not enforced and as a result no one obeys them, as you can see at the roadworks at Russell and the Airport.

And the odd fixed speed camera or speed camera van in the same place on the same road at the same time of day is not enforcement. It is an absolute minimum effort that does not achieve the aim. And fixed speed cameras just create a boom and bust culture amongst the self-centered peanuts who seem to be the majority of ACT drivers, as anyone who drives on the Tuggeranong Parkway would have seen.

Fix the problem of nil to no speed enforcement (well road rule enforcement as a whole) and you’ll most likely see the need for lower speeds around shopping centers etc go away…

DHMO 2:44 pm 26 Dec 09

Oops I forgot double the road deaths occurs because of suicide. Staying at home is not safe either. Nogod how do we stop people getting hit with the bell. Bicycles and maybe runners can do more than 25 Kph so perhaps we can create a new income stream by fining them for excessive speed.

I remember when the 50kph limit was being imposed there was a study done by the NSW RTA put about. It said that by imposing it a 10% reduction would be achieved. The same paper had a study on the actual speed reduction after 6 months. Before was I think 62Kph after 61Kph. So for 1Kph we get 10%. From 60 to 25 we have 35 that is 350%. So it can not be done lots of people would come back to life and then we would have an unmangeable zombie problem.

nogod 9:39 am 26 Dec 09

Just imagine what we could do to the road toll if we get people to walk in front of the cars ringing a bell. Then we’d have progress.

hax 8:46 am 26 Dec 09

Places like civic should just be re-designed to better accommodate both cars and pedestrians.. it should be convenient to go past or into civic in a car, and once you get out you shouldn’t have to really cross any roads.
(but I guess it would be all too expensive to achieve this from what we’ve currently got to work with, and there’s no pioneering spirit, just backwards thinking..)

DHMO 6:39 am 26 Dec 09

Good idea but just does not go far enough. Lets ban cars all together and remove the roads. Further a law stopping people leaving their houses would do much to lower the number of deaths.

Ceej1973 11:43 pm 25 Dec 09

50km/h in ALL city and suburban streets over all of Europe (except feeders, then 60km/h) and 30km/h in pedestrian and school zones. Oh, and pedestrians have right of way crossing an intersection or drive way too. Works fine there!

Felix the Cat 9:37 pm 25 Dec 09

Not sure how this would work but I think the speed limit on certain roads such as Northbourne Ave and Barry Dr (not all of it, just the bits near Civic/ANU) need to be lowered during peak hour and left how they are outside of these times.

Civic and Braddon CBD should be 40km/h definitely during weekdays and consider maybe weekends as well.

Pedestrians and in particular cyclists need to be educated on what red crossing lights are for and the cops need to fine people who walk/ride against the red light, same as they do for motorists. You see so many pedestrians and cyclists have near misses with cars because of their own stupidity/impatience.

vg 8:38 pm 25 Dec 09

“Australian research shows that a person who is hit by a car at 60km/h, has a 75% chance of being killed. At 50km/h, 38%. At 40km/h <20%. At 30km/h, <10%."

Statistics composed by people who've never visited a fatal accident site in their lives

deye 8:24 pm 25 Dec 09

Yet another WOFTAM.

There is a point of diminishing returns, you cannot, will not and never can prevent every death.

Yet if the 30 kph speed limit came in, someone would turn around and say it should be 20.

We have hardly any road deaths in this territory, although we can’t see what they are per posted speed limit as for some reason that isn’t reported (which is kind of silly).

The wider streets you want to make 50, they are feeder roads, you don’t want to make them slower, make them slower and you’ll end up with more drivers ignoring the speed limit.

30 for a normal street would become very irritating for the people who live there.

Quite frankly go for a drive around the suburbs and count how many kids you see, usually there are none.

I would have no objection to turning Bunda street into a joint use zone as it suits the area, It might be advantageous to make it one way at the same time. Northbourne, London circuit, Cooyong st etc have no need to be 40 zones.

shauno 7:12 pm 25 Dec 09

Just out of interest how many pedestrians have been killed on Canberra’s 60km/hr streets? And not the couple that from memory have been killed because they were sleeping on the roads pissed. I think there was one like that in Red Hill a couple of years back.

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