School speed limits on election agenda

Greens push for 30kph; Associate Minister of Transport Tim Macindoe says trials show 60kmh variable speed limits most effective for managing risks.

Greens push for 30kph; Associate Minister of Transport Tim Macindoe says trials show 60kmh variable speed limits most effective for managing risks.

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SCHOOL principals are supportive of the Green Party’s promise to lower speed limits around rural schools.

Green Party and East Coast electorate candidate Gareth Hughes said if elected the party would impose a 30kmh limit around all schools at school arriving and leaving times.

“Getting to school under your own steam is an important part of growing up as a Kiwi kid. It teaches independence, confidence and it’s a great healthy way for kids to start the day,” Mr Hughes said.

“The numbers of kids cycling to school has plummeted. In 1989 half of our kids cycled or walked to school and only a third went by car. Today those numbers have reversed.

Research shows that safety is the number one concern that stops parents from sending their kids to school on foot or by bike and the government needs to make it easier for safer cycling around schools.”

The Green Party would invest in safer separated cycle paths near busy streets so that students can safely bike to school and a 30 km/h speed limit around schools.

Rural schools would also have lower speed limits outside their gates.

“It’s Green Party policy to establish an 80 kmh speed limit outside rural schools, and a ‘variable’ 30 kmh limit during the hours when kids are arriving at and leaving school.

Principal welcomes move

Makauri School principal Judy Nicoll yesterday welcomed that move.

“This is something we have battled transport authorities including the Gisborne District Council for several years now. We are doing everything we can to educate and protect our students on rural roads where the legal speed limit is 100km per hour.”

Similarly, Ngatapa School principal Ritchie Matenga was supportive of the reduction.

Although there had been a noticeable reduction in vehicle speeds over the last term and a half, there had still been some “fairly hairy close-calls”.

“Often we are pulling out and no matter what time of the day it is, we can get some close calls. Some of the drop-off areas are really hairy as well.”

However, Associate Minister of Transport Tim Macindoe said a “one-size fits all” approach was not the way to go.

“Each school has its own unique road safety issues and challenges based on its location and the surrounding environment, and the road safety risks differ for each school.

“The Transport Agency has identified high risk school environments around the country, engaged with those schools, and identified interventions to address those road safety risks most effectively. Variable speed limits outside urban schools are consistent across New Zealand at 40kmh.

“There are significant numbers of 40kmh variable speed limits around the country, and the cost to change to 30km/h in residential areas that already have a permanent 40km/h speed limit would be significant for councils, especially considering the current 40kmh limit in these areas is proving to be successful.

“Research shows that 40kmh is not an appropriate speed limit outside most rural schools in New Zealand, as most rural schools have no pedestrian or cycle activity. The risk outside rural schools is primarily related to turning traffic, either from the school out onto the main road, or from side roads, and recent trials have shown that 60kmh variable speed limits are most effective for managing these risks at rural schools.

“The Transport Agency has also carried out trials of variable speed limits outside of rural schools, and 60kmh variable speed limits are now available for road controlling authorities to implement where conditions are appropriate.”

SCHOOL principals are supportive of the Green Party’s promise to lower speed limits around rural schools.

Green Party and East Coast electorate candidate Gareth Hughes said if elected the party would impose a 30kmh limit around all schools at school arriving and leaving times.

“Getting to school under your own steam is an important part of growing up as a Kiwi kid. It teaches independence, confidence and it’s a great healthy way for kids to start the day,” Mr Hughes said.

“The numbers of kids cycling to school has plummeted. In 1989 half of our kids cycled or walked to school and only a third went by car. Today those numbers have reversed.

Research shows that safety is the number one concern that stops parents from sending their kids to school on foot or by bike and the government needs to make it easier for safer cycling around schools.”

The Green Party would invest in safer separated cycle paths near busy streets so that students can safely bike to school and a 30 km/h speed limit around schools.

Rural schools would also have lower speed limits outside their gates.

“It’s Green Party policy to establish an 80 kmh speed limit outside rural schools, and a ‘variable’ 30 kmh limit during the hours when kids are arriving at and leaving school.

Principal welcomes move

Makauri School principal Judy Nicoll yesterday welcomed that move.

“This is something we have battled transport authorities including the Gisborne District Council for several years now. We are doing everything we can to educate and protect our students on rural roads where the legal speed limit is 100km per hour.”

Similarly, Ngatapa School principal Ritchie Matenga was supportive of the reduction.

Although there had been a noticeable reduction in vehicle speeds over the last term and a half, there had still been some “fairly hairy close-calls”.

“Often we are pulling out and no matter what time of the day it is, we can get some close calls. Some of the drop-off areas are really hairy as well.”

However, Associate Minister of Transport Tim Macindoe said a “one-size fits all” approach was not the way to go.

“Each school has its own unique road safety issues and challenges based on its location and the surrounding environment, and the road safety risks differ for each school.

“The Transport Agency has identified high risk school environments around the country, engaged with those schools, and identified interventions to address those road safety risks most effectively. Variable speed limits outside urban schools are consistent across New Zealand at 40kmh.

“There are significant numbers of 40kmh variable speed limits around the country, and the cost to change to 30km/h in residential areas that already have a permanent 40km/h speed limit would be significant for councils, especially considering the current 40kmh limit in these areas is proving to be successful.

“Research shows that 40kmh is not an appropriate speed limit outside most rural schools in New Zealand, as most rural schools have no pedestrian or cycle activity. The risk outside rural schools is primarily related to turning traffic, either from the school out onto the main road, or from side roads, and recent trials have shown that 60kmh variable speed limits are most effective for managing these risks at rural schools.

“The Transport Agency has also carried out trials of variable speed limits outside of rural schools, and 60kmh variable speed limits are now available for road controlling authorities to implement where conditions are appropriate.”

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