Government to scrap safer speeds

Transport Minister Simeon Brown has announced that safer speeds, including those around schools, will be reversed. 

Instead, the bubble of safety is shrinking dramatically in both size and duration. New rules will see a tiny 150 metre radius around the school gate protected with 30 km/hr speeds between 8.00-9.30am and 2.30-4.00pm. This is despite Auckland Transport figures showing that 85% of deaths and serious injuries around schools occur outside of the times when the variable limits are in place. The picture is even more frightening for rural kids, where allowed speeds will be 60 km/hr.

Bike Auckland Chair Karen Hormann explains:

“We see a mismatch between the Government’s stated aim of keeping young New Zealanders safe and the rock solid evidence that this will do the opposite. Communities don’t want safer speeds reversed – they want them expanded.” 

Hormann continues:

“The Government cites dubious economic benefits to their proposals. Which of us is willing to sacrifice children’s lives for these supposed benefits?”

Creating permanent safe speed zones is significantly more efficient in reducing fatalities and injuries and more cost-effective to establish. This complex and costly-to-implement new approach flies in the face of data showing that where the 30km/hr limit was put in place, deaths have reduced by 30%. Deaths have increased by 9% across the rest of the region in the same period. Schools see the benefits first hand, with 78% of school leaders backing the permanent safer speeds zones in the recent speed management plan consultation in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.

A ghost bike marks the spot where 19-year-old Levi James was killed in 2021. Credit: Alec Tang.

Bike Auckland is also concerned to see the area for slower speeds shrink.

“150 metres won’t get a child to the end of the street. It won’t even get them to the bus stop in many cases,” says Hormann. “This absolutely removes transport choice for families, at a time when we need to give people the option of more affordable transport modes.”

Currently, over a third of Auckland’s roads have 24/7 safer speeds, making the new rule a vast reduction. These include zones around schools wider than those proposed in the new rule. Auckland Transport’s consultation on safer speed implementation found that 74% of Aucklanders were willing to accept an increase in journey time if it meant the roads around schools were safer.

Bike Auckland encourages people to have their say during the 4-week consultation period ending on Thursday 11 July.

Other quotes

Dr Jamie Hosking, public health researcher at Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland and member of the Healthy Auckland Together (HAT) transport network explains why this is going to stop families from using healthy active modes of transport like walking, scooting and biking:

“If people don’t feel safe walking and cycling, they will get in a car instead. That increases carbon emissions and air pollution, and stops people getting healthy physical activity, as well as putting even more traffic onto our streets.”

Father of four and bicycle commuter Dr Nicholas Walker says:

“Working as an obstetrician, my goal is to ensure, as far as possible, the safe arrival of a loved one.  Whether this is birthing a baby, or a child arriving to school safely, I would hope the same principle applies.  With this in mind, I believe safer vehicle speeds around school zones must be a priority so that the babies we birth safely today are not to experience unsafe and preventable accidents in the future.”


Auckland Transport Safe Speeds Monitoring Report

Healthy Auckland Together

Auckland Transport Roading Satisfaction Survey

Auckland Transport Speed Management Plan Economic Assessment

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