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Automobile Association (AA) Otago district council chairman Malcolm Budd made the claim this week following disgruntled posts on social media about the recent installation of 40kmh signs in urban roads in Wanaka, Hawea and Albert Town.
The QLDC adopted the Speed Limits Bylaw 2019 in August last year following a formal two-month consultation process and a hearing panel in June chaired by deputy mayor Calum Macleod.
Sixty percent of the 357 submissions the QLDC received on the bylaw were opposed to reducing the speed limit and urban traffic reductions across the district.
Cr Macleod said the NZ Transport Agency had not requested the speed limit change and it had been a QLDC decision.
However, "they [the agency] do provide guidance through their speed management guide and infrastructure risk rating, too," he said.
Mr Budd said the AA was a supporter of the guide but that approach had not recommended blanket speed limit changes.
He said it targetted roads that would deliver the most safety benefit as the first priority and took a range of actions that made them safer, including improved road engineering.
"Most of the urban roads being proposed for 40kmh limits do not feature in the first 10% or even the second 10% of the road network identified as a priority by the speed management guide mapping tool, so the AA sees this proposal as being motivated by wider council goals around creating certain types of community environments than just road safety.
"We believe there is a role for some strategic arterial roads to be maintained at higher speeds if their main purpose is the flow of traffic and there are not high numbers of vulnerable users present," Mr Budd said.
The AA believed the QLDC needed to explain the purpose of the reduction and seek the public’s endorsement.
"It appears that the QLDC have moved the goal posts after the consultation process was completed," Mr Budd said.
Cr Macleod said the intention had been "to set speed limits to support safety for anyone using the roads, whether it is a child cycling to school, a learner driver out on their own for the first time, commuters, etc".
Active Transport Wanaka spokesman Simon Telfer said people on bikes were "very appreciative" of the reduced speed limits.
"In the absence of a network of protected cycleways this is one way to make biking to school and around town safer and more accessible for all road users," Mr Telfer said.
Asked when the new speed limit would be enforced, a police spokeswoman said any road user exceeding the limit could expect to be stopped.
"Our staff will speak with them and any further action taken, should that be education or enforcement, will be based on the circumstances presented."