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Public feedback balanced with technical advice in setting speed limits

speed consult

The review into the speed limits of about 77 roads across Hastings district has concluded, with Hastings District Council approving many of the proposals to reduce speeds to improve safety.

The process arose from requests from the public to consider speed limit changes on a number of roads, as well as the high-risk roads that were identified as being in the top ten per cent for Deaths and Serious injury crashes, where reducing the speed was the most beneficial and practical means to improve safety.

The roads were grouped into clusters based on the general area they appeared in: South of Havelock North, Flaxmere/Omahu, Waipatu, Hastings South, Twyford, Puketapu, Cape Coast and Tukituki.  There were also several individual roads, which included the Havelock North Central Business District.

The aim of this was to group the community’s suggestions and feedback, and to ensure a level of consistency across the local network - in some cases the proposed changes applied to entire roads, and for others it was only sections of roads under review.

The wider community was asked to provide feedback on the proposals and just over 2400 submissions were received, with people asked to identify whether they lived on the roads or travelled through them.

In general, people submitting in favour of a proposed speed limit would submit only on the proposal that affected them, whereas submitters who were opposed tended to submit against all of the proposals.

As such, the feedback could not be treated as a referendum, rather as a way for council to balance the technical information alongside the local knowledge when making their decisions.

International research shows that reducing speeds has a direct impact on reducing deaths and serious injuries – a recent International Transport Forum study estimates that for every 5km/h reduction in average speeds there is a 28 per cent reduction in fatal crashes and a 26 per cent reduction in serious injury crashes.

While engineering solutions can be used to improve road safety, along with education and enforcement, they can be expensive, and in many cases speed management is a more appropriate tool.

Hearings committee chairperson and deputy mayor Tania Kerr said all these different elements were weighed up by councillors in response to the requests from the community.

“Council has a responsibility to set safe and appropriate speeds for our roads, balancing public feedback with the technical evidence and best practice guidelines.

“We heard from some very passionate community members, especially people who lived or worked in the area and used the roads regularly.”

On behalf of Pakowhai School and the school board principal Paul Bremer submitted against the speed limit on Pakowhai Rd being raised from 60km/h to 80km/h through the Pakowhai village, due to concerns about the increased safety risk this would pose to the school’s students.

“An increase in speed is only going to increase the hazards and I dread having to attend an accident where a family from the school is involved.

“The school uses the footpath from the school to Pakowhai Hall and back at certain times of the year and an increase in speed puts this journey more at risk.

“We believe that the speed limit should remain at 60km/h to enable the drivers to have time to make safe right hand turns on and off Pakowhai Road.”

After considering public feedback and the technical advice, it was decided to retain the speed at 60km/h on Pakowhai Rd through Pakowhai village.

Waipatu resident Waiaraki Davis submitted in support of lowering the speed limits on the council-managed roads in the Waipatu area, a reduction that was approved at the hearings.

“Lowering the speed limit is not only safer, it’s healthy for the mind. Waipatu should be a sanctuary where one can think and pause. Leave the hustle and bustle of the 'rush hour traffic' for the highways and byways and city work life. We are soon to have a kura in our midst. Let this place be good for families and children, not speed and heavy traffic.”

The new speed limits will be confirmed by council at a meeting to be held in early December with the changes likely to start being implemented early in the New Year.

18 November 2020

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