Auckland Transport is proposing to introduce a 30km/h zone near Pasadena Intermediate. It's one of 57 schools and lots of streets covered in a citywide programme to bring in safer speeds. This proposal deserves our support as a good move towards making it safer for our kids to get to school, as well as creating quieter streets for all of us.
Consultation is open until Sunday 14 November 2021.
Click here for the feedback form where you can comment on the plan in general, or any street in particular.
And/or you can "drop a pin" on this map to comment on any proposed speed zone (or suggest others - community requests are welcome).
You might well ask: why is the area so small? The official rationale is that it's easier to introduce safe speed zones where speeds are already slow – basically, a "low-hanging fruit" approach. Auckland Transport puts it this way:
The internationally recognised safe and appropriate speed in areas with people walking and on bikes, like around schools, is 30km/h.
All of these 57 schools are located in residential areas where the actual speeds that vehicles travel at (operating speeds) are already low. Therefore, the changes we propose will simply bring the posted speed limit in line with the speed vehicles are already travelling at.
As part of this proposal, we have prioritised the roads which already have road safety engineering measures like speed humps, or they already have low operating speeds and don’t require them.
Okay. But. If safety is the goal, and 30km/h is the acknowledged gold standard that means most people will be able to walk away if the worst happens, how about some holistic thinking?
1. Expand the 30km/h zone to cover all the Bird Streets
The whole Bird Street area includes kindergartens and daycares, and has been crying out for traffic-calming for years. And kids don't magically teleport into that safe speed zone on the map, and then walk or bike to school. Signage would be easier, too, with the potential for gateway treatments at all the entry streets.
2. Start with speed limits, follow with engineering
Besides, if people are more likely to floor it on some streets, surely that's all the more reason to include those streets in the safer speed zone right now, and plan to add traffic-calming treatments in future.
The evidence shows that signage alone can reduce speeds as Auckland Transport already knows from its previous work around schools. And while speed humps and other treatments certainly help take speeds down a notch, drivers don't actually need them in order to obey the posted speed limit. (If that were true, every single street would require them!).
3. Share the love – all our schools deserve safer streets
Other local schools deserve safe speed zones too. For example, Point Chevalier School could easily have a 30 km/h zone north of Meola, covering Walford and the side streets. FYI the pinpoint map lets you drop a note on the map to suggest other streets for safety treatment.
4. Go wider with the benefits
When you think about it, is there a side-street in Pt Chev that wouldn't benefit from dropping speeds to 30 km/h?
It's not just the survivable sweet spot. It'd be a lot quieter for starters. Much easier for younger, older, or disabled residents to cross the road. More comfortable to walk, jog, scoot, roll or skate. Easier to enter and exit driveways, and safer at intersections. (And more of our beloved pets would get to live out their natural life spans! RIP, Paddles.)
5. Our streets are our future
The last two years have been full of surprises, to say the least. Our lives are changing in unexpected ways, and it's time our streets caught up.
Stepped around a click-and-collect queue and out into the street to give everyone 2m breathing room lately? Or, thinking about swapping the car for a bike for short trips, to do your part for the planet? Or, felt like sending the kids out for some free-range fresh air while you take a breather? (Hello, lockdown home-schoolers!).
We can free up our streets for all these reasons and more – the key is taking traffic down a notch. And heck, we're not going anywhere in a hurry, so it'll be well worth the trade-off!