Life in the slow lane likely for Peninsula

Speed limits could be about to come down on Otago Peninsula roads as part of a push to improve road safety.

The Dunedin City Council is to consult the public over results of a speed limit review, which recommended lower limits for 30 sections of roads across Otago Peninsula, including parts of Portobello and Highcliff Rds.

The changes would see the end of 100kmh speed limits on the Peninsula, with all remaining sections reduced to lower limits of 80kmh, 70kmh or 50kmh, Otago Peninsula Community Board chairman John Bellamy said.

"There's very few places you can actually do that with any safety. It was a no-brainer really," he said.

The review, commissioned last year, had also recommended a lower 30kmh speed limit for John Wilson Ocean Dr, once the road reopened to vehicles.

The results were presented to a recent planning and environment committee meeting, with councillors voting to release the list of changes for public consultation beginning on July 2.

Submissions would close on August 2, with a public hearing to follow if required, before councillors signed off on changes in September, a report by council transportation engineer Diana Munster said.

Mr Bellamy told the Otago Daily Times the review came after the board last year asked the council to bring forward the next scheduled review of Peninsula speed limits, which was not due until 2014.

Board members wanted to end the "ridiculous" situation under which roads without posted speed limits automatically defaulted to 100kmh, he said.

That was despite the "narrow and winding" nature of many Peninsula roads, he said.

"We always thought that was a ridiculous situation for the back bays and the small roads ... our aim was always to try and get a blanket 70kmh [limit] over the entire Peninsula, and then have each individual road signified to be what it should be."

The changes would help ensure the safety of all road users and address the spread of housing into higher-speed zones, he said.

The review also followed the announcement earlier this month nine sites along Portobello Rd had been prioritised for remedial work in the 2012-13 year, following a council investigation into the number of cars crashing into Otago Harbour.

In the speed limit review, council staff assessed 28 roads across the Peninsula, including all those with a 100kmh limit, and three - Portobello, Highcliff and Harington Point Rds - with lower 70kmh or 80kmh limits but higher crash rates, the report said.

The review recommended "credible and consistent" limits that took into account safety, road characteristics and the environment, road users and surrounding developments, the report said.

The results had identified "inconsistencies" in some speed limits, and recommended changes to 30 sections of roads - including, in some cases, multiple sections of the same road - across the Peninsula.

Of the Peninsula's major roads, Harington Point Rd's limits were considered appropriate, but changes were recommended on Portobello Rd, reducing the limit from 70kmh to 50kmh between Nicholas St and Seaton Rd.

That reflected Portobello's expanding village boundary, as well as safety concerns raised by police, the report said.

Highcliff Rd should also have a lower speed limit between Pukehiki and Seaton Rd, down from 80kmh to 70kmh, the report said.

That was due to the road's high crash rate and one-lane sections along the section of road.

Councillors in December also asked for John Wilson Ocean Dr to be added to the review, which recommended lowering the road's 50kmh limit to 30kmh to match planned traffic-calming measures.

Mr Bellamy said submissions would show whether anyone thought the Peninsula changes went too far, but "as far as the board's concerned that's not really a valid issue".

"The issue is road safety, pedestrian safety, and people just have to abide by sensible speed limits."

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

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