Speeding up traffic?

Speeding up traffic?

Bike Auckland

This news article from Hamilton fills CAA with both hope and concern – the proposal to move away from “default” 50 km/h speed limits for urban areas. The article highlights several examples of how this could be beneficial for local communities (and of course including cycling) by lowering speeds for streets in residential areas and town centres to 30 km/h or 40 km/h.

It also highlights how 50 km/h isn’t actually all that safe at all, for urban environments – collisions with pedestrians and cyclists in such a speed environment still have high risk of causing fatalities.

Yet somehow this article leaves us with the feeling that an elephant in the room is being ignored. If you loosen the rules around setting speed restrictions, and also specifically target arterial roads for speeding up, then you also open yourself up to Councils and transport planners who think it’s a GREAT idea to have 60-80 km/h roads in urban areas so that “traffic can move freely and without delay”. And this speeding up is clearly part of what Hamilton City Council proposes.

With all the safety concerns that creates for pedestrians and cyclists.

And with all the community severance issues too – try crossing a high-speed road: if the cars alone don’t discourage you, or force you to detour long distances to the next traffic signals, you may still be blocked from getting across by crash barriers. Not to speak of the extra noise, and the drops in property values as houses turn inward, hiding from the street behind high fences.

Arterial roads in Auckland include Great North Road and Great South Road. Lake Road. East Coast Road. Lincoln Road. Tamaki Drive. Ellerslie Panmure Highway and many others. Some reasonably nice for walking and cycling right now, some already shocking – none that would be improved in any shape or form we can see by raising their speeds to 60-80 km/h.

I can of course see the proponents argue “but we aren’t talking about raising the speeds on THOSE arterials”. Well, face it Auckland: we don’t actually have many “rural” type roads left in much of our city – unless you go as far out as Kumeu, or south of Papakura. So we don’t think speeding up arterials makes much sense for Auckland.

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