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Auckland Council rejects move to scrap lower speed limits, favours 'safety'

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05 July 2024, 7:00 PM

Auckland Council rejects move to scrap lower speed limits, favours 'safety'The government wants to scrap blanket speed reductions introduced by Labour at the start of 2020

Auckland is telling the government it does not want speed limits in the city to go up to save lives.

The government wants to scrap blanket reductions - introduced under Labour at the start of 2020 - on suburban streets, arterial roads and state highways by July 2025.

Transport Minister Simeon Brown said lower speed limits have slowed Kiwis and the economy down, rather than targeting high crash areas.

The government is asking for feedback on a range of speed limit changes, including limiting 30km/h restrictions around schools to only pick-up and drop-off times.

On Thursday, Auckland Council voted to oppose reversing the reductions and the variable limits outside schools in its submission to the government.

Transport and Infrastructure committee chair, councillor John Watson, said where speed limits had been lowered there had been a reduction in injuries and death.

"As the council we've been pretty aware of the high rate of road deaths and serious injuries that occur in New Zealand and Auckland as much as anywhere, so our record over the years isn't too stellar.

"The council was definitely coming down quite clearly today on the side of real safety, drivers and particularly vulnerable groups like around schools."

He said the council also agreed it should be up to communities to set speed limits outside school gates.

"The dynamics of every school can be a bit different. There's kids going to every school but the number of gates and the configuration of schools and the number of roads can all differ. And really the schools are the ones best placed to make the call."

Watson said Auckland Council represents a third of the country's population but it would be up to the government to decide what to do with its submission.

The Green Party said the council's vote shows people did not want to raise speed limits.

Transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said she had spoken to teachers, parents, and emergency department doctors who were appalled by the government's plan.

"I think the government, well, Simeon Brown, the transport minister, is just completely out of touch with reality, hasn't looked at the evidence and I think the government's going to be surprised how much opposition there is to this proposed change. I hope they will listen to people and listen to reason."

She said the government's plan was lethal and increasing speed limits would not help people get places faster.

"What we've seen is driving at a higher speed when you still have to stop at a bunch of intersections as you do in a residential neighbourhood or a Town Centre means that you don't actually save any time. And if there's people getting hurt, if there's crashes, ambulances, all of that actually slows people down.

"This is really just about making our streets more dangerous for people who are travelling outside cars for no gain whatsoever."

Public submissions on the government's speed limit plan close on 11 July.