You are here: Home / Media / RTA says no to go-slow zone

RTA says no to go-slow zone

The NSW Roads and Traffic Authority has rejected calls from the City of Sydney to reduce speed limits in the Sydney CBD to 40 kilometres per hour reports Flint Duxfield in the South Sydney Herald in October 2009.

The City of Sydney proposed the speed reduction at a State Parliamentary inquiry into pedestrian safety last month, alongside a recommendation that councils be allowed to set local speed limits.

But RTA spokesperson, Mark Henderson, told the SSH that the RTA has already decided to refuse the Council’s request, before the inquiry has even returned its findings. “The RTA has given serious consideration to the proposal to reduce speed limits in the inner city and … we have rejected the Council’s proposal,” he said.

Mr Henderson refused to comment on why local councils should not be allowed to set local speed limits, despite the RTA stating on its website that councils are the most effective bodies for dealing with “a range of traffic related matters, particularly those which arise on local roads”.

“There are already local traffic committees, of which the RTA, police and councils are part, which sufficiently address local concerns,” he said.

The number of pedestrians killed or injured in the City of Sydney rose to 376 in 2007 against a downward trend in pedestrian accidents since 1999. The City of Sydney says the RTA’s refusal to grant local traffic committees the authority to set speed limits is putting pedestrians at risk of cars traveling at dangerous speeds.

“The City believes local councils have the greatest knowledge about local roads,” said City of Sydney spokesperson, Leanne Lincoln. “If the City was granted authority to change speed limits through the Traffic Committee, it would greatly help us roll out our pedestrian, cycling and traffic calming plans,” she said.

The City is conducting public consultations for its Traffic Calming Plan, which seeks to reduce speed limits on local streets in Newtown, Darlington and Camperdown to 40 km/h.

But the NRMA says lowering speed limits will not necessarily improve pedestrian safety. “It might not be the speed of a vehicle that’s a factor, it could be poor lighting conditions or intoxicated pedestrians which are causing the problems,” said NRMA Senior policy advisor for road safety, Anne Morphett.

Ms Morphett says the RTA is withholding data on the location and causes of pedestrian accidents that is vital in determining whether speed reductions are needed. “We’ve requested the RTA to provide the data. We know for a fact that they have the 2008 data, but it’s not being made public.”

“Speed limit reductions should be based on solid evidence. If there’s a particular area which demonstrates the need for the speed to change to 40km/h, then it should be changed, but it shouldn’t be 24/7. There are hardly any areas in the city where that is warranted,” she said. 

But local residents are in favour of the speed reductions. A resident from Albert Street, Erskineville, who attended a public consultation meeting on the Council’s Traffic Calming Plan, said lower speed limits would be welcomed on local roads. “A 40km limit would be great for Erskineville, especially in Albert Street which tends to be used as a short cut. A 40km/h speed limit or even a 30km/h limit would make our precinct safer,” she said.

Anthony Kable from Eskineville  told the Herald  “I would support any reduction in the speed limit if it was policed effectively. Considering the amount of pedestrians, bicycles and narrow residential streets, many drivers travel way too fast. Somehow the quiet roads around our houses and schools need to be shielded from the impatience, stress and frustration and of King Street and Erskineville Road drivers.”

Brisbane City Council reduced CBD speed limits to 40km/h earlier this year. A spokesperson for the Council said the speed reduction has been a success and has been very well received by the public.

The findings of the parliamentary inquiry into pedestrian safety are expected to be released at the end of the year.