Lord Mayor Robert Doyle of Melbourne, Australia, has said that the Central Business District had the highest number of road crashes in the state and cutting the speed limit in some of the smaller streets and lanes was a serious option.
Hold up… is a city council actually going to take the initiative and act on safety? That seems to be the case on the surface. What is fuelling this change within council? The cynic in me is a little confused: it usually takes something like a major fucking catastrophe to budge council laws. I’m surprised.
It’s not like this is even about revenue. I mean if they want revenue just install more speed cameras on already 50-40km/h roads.
So are councils really serious about ped safety? Have they done their homework? In order to find out, we did some homework of our own:
VicRoads‘ accident statistics analysis tool ‘Crashstat’, reports that in the last five years (2006-2010), there have been 413 accidents in the CBD in which pedestrians were injured. Of those, 190 involved serious injury, and 3 were fatalities. That was in ONLY 40 km/h and 50 km/h zones.
In other words, on average, you have “some” level of pedestrian related accident in the city every 5 days. That does seem quite high.
- Query output is here.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the 60 km/h urban default limit was progressively lowered to 50 kilometres per hour (31 mph) nationally for reasons of road, and especially pedestrian, safety. In the 2000s, 50 km/h became the common speed limit in residential areas.
Campaigns by some organisations, such as the Australian Wheelchair Association, saw the default urban limit lowered further, to allow wheelchairs to be used on public roads, with most such proposals calling for 40 kilometres per hour (25 mph) limits.
Some local government areas have unilaterally applied lower limits, such as the City of Sydney introducing 30 km/h zones in many areas. In other areas, special 40 km/h zones have been introduced in “high pedestrian activity” areas.
- Source: Wikipedia
What impact has reducing the speed limit had on pedestrian accidents in the past? Clearly not enough of one, because here we are again: the decennial “Lowering Of The Speed Limits” festival.
One city police officer had this to say:
“Well from working in the city every day I can confidently say that it’s usually always the pedestrians at fault. So many people disregard vehicles and go against the lights. I would much prefer just being forced to issue more jaywalking tickets (which I hate doing) than have this implemented.
“No matter what speed you set our CBD, pedestrians will continue to do the wrong thing (usually because they are in a rush) and will get hit. I’m not saying there aren’t drivers who do the wrong thing too, but out of every accident I have attended in the CBD only one was speed related (+50 km/h) and the rest were low speed driver/pedestrian error.”
If this is true – and I’m going to go out on a limb here and give more credibility to the police officer over council politicians – drivers can do nothing about this problem whether they’re driving 30km/h, 40km/h or 60km/h. Yet councils are continually punishing drivers, further congesting the roads, while pedestrian attitudes are continually ignored.
Besides, do we really want stupid people who can’t judge the distance and speed of an oncoming car at 40km/h, to breed? I kid, I kid. But who has considered that reducing the speed limit further may actually increase pedestrian-vehicle accidents?
a) Misjudge cars travelling at lower speeds and think they have more time to cross the road than they really do, or
b) Perceive the new speed limit as less risky for them to sustain an injury and as a result become even more reckless on roads.
Really? Well fucking case closed then!
At this rate, the next council measure will be to ban cars from certain CBD areas altogether. Unfortunately for local government, they seem to forget that drivers are still the majority of voters who will end up ousting them in resentment.
The option of a 30km/h speed limit for certain areas in Melbourne is out for public consultation and will be voted on next month.
Meanwhile, Yarra Council wants all 40km/h zones in residential streets to be gradually replaced by 30km/h limits and has considered the issue at a meeting, to then be passed to VicRoads for approval.
For once, I’m glad I take the train.
- Councils want 30km/h speed limit (heraldsun.com.au)
- Shake-up to UK speed limits planned (autonetinsurance.co.uk)
- Letter to the editor of newspaper on reckless driving sample of this letter (wiki.answers.com)
- You: On Wide Florida Roads, Running for Dear Life (nytimes.com)
- Back to School Safety (lodi360.com)