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Calls for 40km/h limits

| 02.01,12. 02:22 AM |


Calls for 40km/h limits

January 2, 2012

TRAFFIC across the city would be slowed to 40km/h as part of City of Sydney plans.

Terry Lee-Williams, a transport strategy manager at the City of Sydney, told the NSW Parliament's joint standing committee on road safety that the council would like a "blanket" 40km/h speed limit across the city in "predominantly residential areas". He said 20 per cent of the existing city speed zones were 40km/h.

''Once we do the CBD, that would take it up to about 35 per cent and we would progressively like to roll that through. I say progressively because it is a cost issue,'' Mr Lee-Williams told the committee late last year.

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The costs include hundreds of thousands of dollars in studies ''and hoops we must jump through for the RMS [Roads and Maritime Services]''.

The NSW Labor MP Walt Secord, who is a Staysafe committee member, said he disagreed with the council plan to introduce the 40km/h speed zone across the city, saying it would further congest traffic.

''Recently at a Staysafe parliamentary hearing, the staff from Sydney City Council were advocating changing the entire city to 40 kilometres,'' he said. ''While I understand they have safety concerns, I fear that it could slow city traffic to a snail's pace.

''This would make journeys across Sydney even longer in duration and slower, especially at night.''

A spokeswoman for the City of Sydney said it was the responsibility of NSW Roads and Maritime Services to approve any changes to the speed limit.

"The RMS is responsible for signposting and speed limits throughout NSW," she said.

"The City of Sydney supports improving road safety and minimising the risk of injury and death in pedestrian areas through the reduction of speed limits, as is international best practice. On any given working day, there are 600,000 pedestrians in the city centre and 85,000 vehicles. The slower the vehicle, the less risk of severe trauma to the pedestrian.''

A spokeswoman for Roads and Maritime Services said it had "received a copy of the concept proposal for a speed zone reduction from the City of Sydney on Christmas Eve and is reviewing it early this year".

The former Labor premier Kristina Keneally and the City of Sydney lord mayor, Clover Moore, agreed to a plan to slow traffic within the city centre to 40km/h by early 2011 in a memorandum of understanding dated September 13, 2010, when Mr Secord worked as chief-of-staff for Ms Keneally.

A spokesman for the NSW Roads Minister, Duncan Gay, said the minister had not yet seen the City of Sydney proposal.

Mr Lee-Williams told the Staysafe committee in late November that someone hit by a car at 40km/h was far less likely to die than if they were hit at 60km/h.

''Internationally it is 30km/h, but because it has taken about 12 years to get the RTA down to 40km/h, we did not want to push the envelope to 30km/h,'' he said. ''Traffic also flows better in crowded areas at a slower speed because … you do not get compression between intersections: the vehicles are moving easily; they do not have to accelerate, decelerate, accelerate, decelerate."


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