"Speed prevents children and adults from walking and cycling. Getting people out of cars would
mean less congestion, less air pollution and an active, healthier population"
- Dr Michael Hale, Auckland Regional Public Health Service
SLOW SPEEDS ARE SAFER SPEEDS
Speed has a direct influence on the occurrence of traffic crashes and on their severity.The World Health Organization (WHO) states “A safe speed on roads with possible conflicts between cars and pedestrians, cyclists or other vulnerable road users is 20mph (30km/h)”.
30km/h in town centres is not new. Reduced speed limits around Auckland town centres will align with world class cities.
Lower speeds and self-enforcing slow speed environments have proven to save lives. Slow speeds save lives.
International guidance is that Auckland's urban streets should have speed limits no more than 30 km/hr. Advocating for a speed of 40kmh, instead, puts many people at risk. This isn't a 'compromise', it is a sacrifice, and that's unacceptable. The default speed should be the safer speed.
Lowering the speed limit alone without any increase in enforcement or change of built environment has been shown to reduce observed speeds by a few km/hr. There is latent demand for being allowed to drive more slowly, and when some people do, others follow. Even slightly lower speeds keep more people safe: a 1% change in speed has been shown to result in a 4% reduction in fatalities. In Auckland, we're also expecting to see increased enforcement and, eventually, a modified street environment, so our safety could increase dramatically.
SLOW STREETS ARE EQUITABLE STREETS
Elderly, disabled, youth and low-income communities are more at risk from higher speeds. This is because they cross streets more slowly, are less likely to drive and are less likely to live in walkable neighbourhoods.
Slow streets give people more choice on how they move. Levels of walking and cycling increase on lower speed streets [ROSPA]. The most common barrier to cycling is fear of traffic speeds and volumes. Among 'interested but concerned cyclist', quiet, residential street with traffic speeds of 30 - 40km/h gave the second highest level of comfort among various cycling facilities.
This particularly benefits members of our communities who can not, or prefer not to drive due to age, disabilities, low incomes or health and environmental concerns.
If you could experience a city from 95cm – the height of a 3-year-old – what would you change? - Urban95
(Slow streets ensure our most vulnerable users have just as much
right to the street.)
(A slow street would make it easier for the mobility impaired to navigate streets at times like this.)
SLOW STREETS ARE STREETS FOR CHILDREN
Children's independent travel has reduced massively in the past 30 years due to parent's concerns over traffic safety. [Julie Bhosale, AUT] Children in Aotearoa have lost the freedom of independent travel in part because of ridiculously high speeds on our roads and streets. Also, because women are often the primary caregivers in Aotearoa, children's low rates of independent travel tend to impact disadvantaged women more.
(Fast streets/fast speeds have led to generations of dependant children in Aotearoa.)
Community severance occurs when transport infrastructure or motorised traffic divides space and people. This results in social exclusion and segregation. Reducing traffic volume and speed improves connectivity, it increases the chance of meeting people who "aren't like you" and reduces social isolation [Donald Appleyard].
(O'Connell Street, after: Slow speeds combined with good
street design have made this a public space for connection.)
(O'Connell Street, before: Just really
dangerous and gross.)
SLOW SPEEDS ARE SUSTAINABLE STREETS
"You say you love your children above all else and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes” -15 year old, Greta Thunberg, calls on world leaders to do more to tackle climate change at the world economic forum 2019. 39% of Auckland's emissions are from transport and cars have the largest carbon foot print for a single road user. Not only do slower speeds encourage people to replace trips by car with trips by active modes, they also lead to steadier speeds in urban environments, with less acceleration and deceleration. This reduces air pollution from emissions.
Road deaths are common, but even more common are deaths associated with air pollution.
The more that sustainable modes of travel are encouraged by slower speeds, the less cars people will need, meaning less pollution of our air.
CAR DEPENDENCE MEANS UNHEALTHY SOCIETIES
If slow speeds encourages active modes we gain the health benefits of people being healthier. When we don't feel safe walking or cycling on our streets, we instead rely on our cars or forego many trips and remain inactive. Physical inactivity is a serious health concern. Second to climate change, the sedentary lifestyle is another elephant in the room. How often do we look at the leading causes of death in perspective? While physical inactivity is a risk itself, it also contributes to other risks, such as obesity and high blood pressure. A Cambridge University study found that a daily active commute has been linked to a 45 per cent reduction in heart diseases and cancer. Active commuting (for example, including a walk to your bus) may just be the easiest way to get regular activity into your life.
While physical inactivity is a risk itself, it also contributes to other risks, such as obesity and high blood pressure.
POSTED SPEEDS ARE NOT OFTEN THE KEY FACTOR TO PREVAILING JOURNEY TIMES
The road environment, prevailing traffic patterns and route intersection traffic controls often have more impact on the journey time than the posted speed. What the reduced posted speed will do is reduce the speeding up between signals and intersections and it will also improve safety for people who walk, e-scooter and cycle, reduce crash impact severity and create more calmed street environment.
"Many people mistakenly over-estimate the impact of speed limits (e.g. a 20% reduction in the posted speed limit is assumed to lead to a 20% increase in travel time)....The reasoning behind why actual time differences are generally overestimated is due to the limited amount of time that one is usually able to travel at the theoretical maximum speed. These delays may arise from road geometric constraints (e.g. tight horizontal curves), other traffic (e.g. urban congestion), point restrictions (e.g. intersections, railway crossings), or section restrictions (e.g. road works, lower speed towns along a journey). In all of these cases, the time traveled through these sections will be unaffected by what the open road limit is. - Dr Glen Koorey