Call for 40kmh speed zone at schools

Bathgate School principal Whetu Cormick is worried about the speed of traffic outside his school. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Bathgate School principal Whetu Cormick is worried about the speed of traffic outside his school. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Dunedin schools have called for a blanket 40kmh speed zone to be implemented around all schools in the city, not just a selected few.

About 80 Dunedin schools were recently assessed for traffic problems, but only Carisbrook School, King's High School, Queen's High School, Kaikorai Valley College and Wakari School met New Zealand Transport Agency criteria for speed reductions during peak traffic times.

Criteria included how many children walked, cycled, entered or exited vehicles along a school road; the speed limit on the road; if it was a main route; if there had been any accidents; and if physical constraints obscured lines of sight.

The assessment aimed to determine if a 40kmh variable speed limit would reduce the risk to vulnerable road users.

Bayfield High School principal Judith Forbes was one of many principals around the city who advocated a blanket 40kmh speed zone around all schools.

''Whenever young pedestrians are put at risk with regards to vehicles, the pedestrian is always going to come off much the worse.

''So if vehicles can slow down a little around schools, then it makes it safer for everybody.''

She said the Dunedin City Council had been helpful in reducing vehicle speed on Shore St, by placing judder bars in several places, but concerns about vehicle speed remained, particularly on Musselburgh Rise.

Bathgate Park School principal Whetu Cormick said he was bewildered that King's High School and Queen's High School had been considered for a 40kmh zone around their schools, but his school had not.

''I'm not down on Bay View Rd, but I get a very strong feeling that Macandrew Rd is a busier road than Bay View Rd.

''It's puzzling.''

He said, on the whole, drivers respected the pedestrian crossing outside Bathgate, but there had been instances when vehicles had gone through the crossing while the lollipops were out.

''I think that's because they've been distracted, they haven't seen it, or they've been going too fast to stop in time.

''Out here, in the afternoon, it's a nightmare.

''There's King's and Queen's kids everywhere, there's our kids, there's cars travelling through and then, of course, there's parents picking kids up.''

He, too, called for a blanket 40kmh zone around all schools between 8.45am and 9.15am, and 2.45pm to 3.15pm.

''In Australia, I know for a fact, they have it at all schools; not just dedicated or specific ones.''

North East Valley Normal School principal John McKenzie agreed.

He said North Rd was very busy and he believed 50kmh was too fast when travelling past the school.

Young children could be unpredictable around school gates - especially 5-year-olds who could run out in front of cars or let go of their parents' hands while going across a crossing, he said.

''Any reduction in speed around schools would be a sensible move.''

Kaikorai Primary School principal Simon Clarke said the boards of trustees at Kaikorai Primary and Columba College were in negotiations with the Dunedin City Council about erecting pedestrian-controlled traffic lights on Highgate.

''At the moment, Highgate is extremely dangerous, and if these lights weren't going in, we would be advocating for a 40kmh speed zone in the area.

''We're all for the 40kmh speed zones. Anything to keep our kids safe.''

Dunedin City Council senior traffic engineer Ron Minnema said defining the boundaries of a school zone would be challenging, and the cost of erecting the necessary signage would be prohibitive.

He said council was working on other measures to slow traffic, such as judder bars, raised street tables and traffic light-controlled pedestrian crossings.

''We will provide different solutions to different problems for different schools.

''For a lot of the schools, having a blanket 40kmh speed zone around them won't do anything for them, to be honest.

''Quite a few of them are in cul-de-sacs, for others speeding is not an issue, and they actually have other issues that are bigger issues than the perceived risk.

''Just because we've done this, it doesn't mean that is it. We are going to continue looking at schools and different methods to reduce the risk.''

The 40kmh initiative will now undergo public consultation and public submissions will run from July 1 to August 1.

Changes, if confirmed, will be in place from February 1 next year.

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

Agree

I could not agree more - it is time we put the school children before the car, full stop. Every school should have a 40kmh limit during the hours of 8am-8.45am, no exeptions. And add to that a red zone non-stopping zone 100 yards in each direction for all but school buses, with a $200 fine and 30 demerit points for those who put their car before their childs safety. It amazes me that children who run for hundreds of yards a day are not able to walk for a few hundred more if dropped off safely rather than many parents desperation to drop them with 5 yards of the school gate regardless of the obstruction they cause in doing so.

School speed limits

Consistent speed limits are needed outside schools throughout the country.  Make travel safe for children with 30km/h speed limit outside schools during drop off and pickup times and no more than 60km/h at other times of the day as recommended by the World Health Organisation.  It will be the start of changing the culture of drivers.  Drivers will know what to expect and will only have to take their foot off the gas for short periods and will lose only seconds of travel time.  Children will feel safer about walking or cycling, learning about independence and safe road travel, beating the obesity epidemic along the way.  Cars that ferry children will stop blocking the road and finally the speed limit will be almost in line with the school bus rule of 20km/h, so drivers will also become more aware of the dangers that children getting on and off the school buses face.  The signs and infrastructure will cost a little, but nothing in comparison to the life of a child and how it changes how we drive around vulnerable road users.  The Government needs to act here and introduce laws that make travel safer for children.  More on our Facebook page - join the battle for safe travel for our children.

School zone speed limits

Establishing a 40kmh zone as the default around schools in Dunedin would be a positive step - a positive step in the direction of the evidence-based regime which would be a 30kmh zone around schools and indeed in most streets that are of a purely residential nature and in areas of high community activity such as suburban shopping centres.

Congratulations principals on advocating for lower traffic speeds around schools. Why not stand on principle and go for 30kmh zones?  Given the relationship between injury risk and vehicle speed in vehicle/pedestrian collisions, it is a no-brainer.

It is long past time that the era of the blanket 50kmh urban speed limit came to an end.  More progressive cities overseas and councils in NZ are already moving in this direction such as Wellington and Hamilton.

Share the way at 30K.

Arthur St School

In Arthur St there are four child care centres/schools in the area and every morning kids are going in all directions to get to them. This plus the work/university commuters passing through or turning make it busier than George St for a while. A recipe for diasaster. A slow road would help here.

Traffic lights in Highgate

I contacted the DCC personally last year after seeing numerous near misses on the pedetrian crossing outside Columba College. Back then the council assured me that 'traffic lights were being installed there by the end of 2013' - still nothing!

It amazes me that Highgate Rd, one of the busiest roads in Dunedin at most times of the day, does not have one single set of traffic lights to control the flow of traffic.  Again - another example of the council being asleep behind the wheel.  

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