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After less than a month, the 10kmh speed limit through Dunedin’s city centre is on its way out.
But the about 460 circles installed on May 17 and 18, as visual cues to help remind motorists they are in a shared space and to reduce their speed, will stay temporarily.
Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins argued successfully for the removal of the temporary measures included in the Dunedin City Council’s Covid-19 Alert Level 2 response — "Safer CBD Streets" — and the reintroduction of paid parking in the city centre on July 1.
He originally had not called for the coloured dots to remain, but took the lead from several councillors who asked for a stay on the dots’ removal yesterday.
He said the debate surrounding the controversial temporary measures had failed to recognise the value of the up to $135,000 a week in parking revenue the council had foregone and focused on the much less significant budget of up to $40,000 councillors had approved.
The council had spent $25,000 to date and, due to an approved NZ Transport Agency subsidy, the council’s share was only 10%.
"When I first started in this line of work, someone once suggested to me that the smaller the amount of money, the longer and more visceral the debate might be and I don’t think I’ve found a single better example of that than this — that over $2500 of council money, some paint on the road, and asking people to drive a little more slowly through the city centre the sheer ... visceral response that this has elicited from people for whatever reason has been disappointing and a bit embarrassing actually at times."
Cr Carmen Houlahan was the only councillor, in a 14-1 vote, to vote against Mr Hawkins’ motion yesterday. She said this was not because she wanted the speed limit to remain, but because she had "serious" concerns about keeping the coloured dots if the speed limit on Dunedin’s main street was to rise again to 30kmh.
Cr Jim O’Malley said councillors needed to ask themselves if the dots added to "confusion versus traffic calming" after staff reported the slower speed limits resulted in a drop in average speed in the street from 28kmh to 22kmh over the project’s implementation period.
"I would like the dots to stay because it’s actually giving us the chance to explore the idea of what could we make George St and Princes St without any particularly major changes."