Friday 29 November 2013

The rise of the 40km/h zone

Hutt St in the city will next month be the latest in an increasingly long line of Adelaide streets to have their speed limits reduced to 40km/h. What's it all about?

There are a lot of benefits to be had from lowering speed limits, particularly in areas of high traffic such as the inner city, shopping precincts and main thoroughfares.

Topmost is the increased level of safety for cyclists and pedestrians alike. Earlier this year, the Heart Foundation (SA) added it's voice to the call for slower traffic:  "Pedestrians and cyclists struck by a motor vehicle travelling at 50 km/h have about an 85% chance of being killed, while at 30 km/h this drops to 10%."

While we are yet to see any streets at 30km/h, the 40km/h limits that are being introduced are certainly a step in the right direction for our chances of surviving a bingle.

Concerns about the changes range from a potential increase in travel time for vehicles and increased congestion, to increased fuel consumption and a suspicion that this is really just all about raising revenue off of speeding fines.

It has been argued that it is not the speed limit, but stopping and strarting regularly that causes increased fuel consumption,  and  that any concerns are more than offset by the increased chance of making it home or to work without a collision.

Adelaide Lord Mayor, Stephen Yarwood, told the Adelaide City Messenger last week that the reduced speed limit would make it easier to pull in and out of parking spaces, increase pedestrian safety, boost visibility of shops and encourage more people to enjoy outdoor dining.

"Anyone saying it's revenue raising for speeding fines is ludicrous and totally missing the point", he said.

Of course, if you're taking the healthy, cheaper, green option and cycling already, then none of the other arguments matter: you're going to be safer.


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