Implementing Lower Speeds in New Zealand
In many Western countries, particularly in Europe, speed limits less than our conventional 50 km/h (urban) and 100 km/h (rural) defaults are commonly used. There is also a significant take-up in road treatments that encourage slower speed (e.g. “self-explaining roads”, shared spaces and traffic calming devices), with or without the presence of supporting speed limits. Although there have been a few positive initiatives in recent times, New Zealand has generally been rather slow in adopting these practices, to the detriment of its road safety record. This is a particular concern when considering the safety of walking and cycling and encouraging a greater use of both modes. This paper looks at the current state of practice in New Zealand, both in terms of existing low speed implementations around the country and the technical guidance available to support such initiatives. In particular, it examines the existing “Setting of Speed Limits” guidelines and possible ways to bolster their ability to more pro-actively support lower speed limits. Existing guidance and research on implementing speed reduction treatments is also examined, with a view to identifying recent developments in this area and topics for future New Zealand research.