Broad support for lower speed limits

The Clutha District Council has asked residents to consider a plan to reduce the speed limit on...
The Clutha District Council has asked residents to consider a plan to reduce the speed limit on unsealed rural roads to 80kmh, and outside most schools to 30kmh at all times. The limit for five rural schools would be 60kmh. PHOTO: ODT FILES
A council speed limit consultation shows broad support for reduced limits, although recent governmental changes leave any resulting alterations in limbo for now.

The Clutha District Council had already begun consultation on the previous, Labour government’s Setting of Speed Limit Rule when the incoming National coalition government announced, on December 12 last year, it would scrap the process and replace it with new regulations for setting speed limits later this year.

The council elected to complete consultation and recently published its draft speed management plan 2024-27.

During a council meeting last week, Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan said it was frustrating to have invested time and resources consulting the public on now redundant legislation.

However, Cr Bruce Vollweiler and others said the feedback obtained from the public remained relevant.

"It’s been a useful process, as we now have this information available to us in the future, when we revisit the matter," Cr Vollweiler said.

The council asked residents to consider reducing rural unsealed road limits to 80kmh, and speeds outside most schools to 30kmh at all times.

Five rural schools would have limits reduced to 60kmh only.

A report from council senior asset management engineer Niko Trbuhovic said the consultation process had been "robust", garnering 174 submissions.

"The majority [expressed] strong support for the proposed changes.

"A significant portion of responses originated from rural town residents, with a particular emphasis on speeds in rural towns and outside schools," he said.

In a summary of key messages from the report, residents were split about equally between regarding current speeds as safe (38%) or inappropriate (35%).

However, 62% supported reducing speed limits overall, against 17% who had concerns about reductions.

Most (79%) aligned with the council in favouring permanent, 24/7 speed reductions around schools, as opposed to timed reductions during key school hours.

Two communities collectivised their submissions.

Taieri Mouth residents emphasised the need for "tailored" speed adjustments, highlighting safety concerns on specific roads, and limits aligned to local conditions.

Papatowai-Maclennan residents collectively advocated for lower speed limits in their town.

Vocal among the schools making submissions was Clutha Valley Primary.

The school is one of five where 60kmh rather than 30kmh limits have been proposed, due to its rural nature.

Its board of trustees urged the council to reclassify it under the 30kmh limit.

"Feedback from Clutha Valley School underlines the necessity for a lower speed limit in their high-risk area, suggesting a potential variable speed limit focusing on crucial times like drop-off and pick-up. Respondents have noted that the school has a much larger roll than any of the other category 2 [60kmh] schools and is located in an area with a high number of heavy vehicles going past."

The council will revisit the draft plan once new government guidelines have been announced.