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How to save a life: Council’s speed shake-up

Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson showing the signs that will be used in Masterton’s CBD. PHOTO/EMILY IRELAND

Approved speed limits mean safer pedestrians

ARTHUR HAWKES
[email protected]

Masterton District Council on Wednesday passed the recommendation to lower many of the district’s speed limits, with full council support.

The only amendments were to scrap the proposed 40kmh variable limits around several schools for a lower variable limit of 30kmh.

A fixed 30kmh limit was also approved for the town’s CBD.

This would take effect in August, once the bylaw was passed.

The use of Wairarapa Consolidating Bylaw 2019 meant that the council was able to change the speed limits themselves, at a local government level.

Speed limits on state highways are controlled by the NZTA.

This move was supported by prior community engagements that informed the council’s recommendations.

The average public support for the CBD’s new speed restrictions was 62.6 per cent, with about 9.5 per cent opting for the “don’t know” option and 27.9 per cent opting to keep it at 50kmh.

Public support was at 82.2 per cent for lowering the speed limits around schools.

Councillor Bex Johnson made the point that, at 50kmh, the chance of a pedestrian dying in a crash was 70 per cent; at 30kmh this figure dropped to 10 per cent.

Ra Smith, the iwi representative present at the meeting, alluded to the idea of “zero” – how the government had been chasing zero covid-19 cases, and zero deaths, and that by lowering the limits to a variable 30kmh around schools, MDC could reflect that concern over human life.

Councillor Tim Nelson agreed and the council then mooted the idea of changing the variable 40kmh limits to variable 30kmh limits, which was then amended in the document.

Nelson, who is also the principal of Lakeview School, said 30kmh around schools should become the “new normal”.

Councillor Frazer Mailman queried the use of signs around schools that finished at different times, which the council confirmed would be electronic and programmable, allowing the variable limits to be implemented as and when required.

At this stage, the council said the focus was on schools with younger pupils, who were less savvy with road safety, rather than colleges such as Chanel and Wairarapa College.

The revised Upper Waingawa Rd speed limit around the unsealed section looked to address the numerous crashes, one involving the death of an eight-year-old girl, that had taken place on the dangerous stretch of road over the past few years.

Several residents had voiced concerns that the road had a limit of 100kmh but was effectively just gravel that sloped towards a river.

Mayor Lyn Patterson said that the new speed limits would make Masterton safer and would not majorly impede travel time.

“We believe the new speed limit will help create a safer environment for pedestrians in what is a shared space with motorists – and we obviously want people to feel safe and comfortable in our town centre.

“The proposed new speed limit really reflects the speed most vehicles are travelling, so we don’t believe it will seriously impact travel times or convenience.”

MDC will meet a second time for another round of speed limit deliberations.

 

1 COMMENT

  1. Mayor Lyn,
    having watched the pedestrians in Masterton wander aimlessly across the streets, I feel the only way you can save people who have an obvious death wish is to return to the days of a man walking in front of each car waiving a little red flag.

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