If you’ve ever tried to ride down Exhibition Street when there’s no traffic jam, you’ll know how unsafe and unpleasant it can feel having fast cars zooming past you. The speed limit there is 50 km/h. We reckon this completely unsuitable for a CBD area. The city should be orientated to people, not cars.
Victoria’s current default speed limit (ie where there are no signs) is 50 km/h in built-up areas and 40 km/h in some shopping strip zones. Local councils can reduce speed limits to 40 km/h in particular locations, such as residential areas, but only with Vicroads’ approval. 30 km/h, considered by VicRoads to be ‘quite unusual‘, is more difficult to get approval for.
Melbourne BUG is asking the state government to reduce the default speed limit to 30 km/h for Melbourne’s residential streets, shopping strips, and the CBD. This is because 30km/h is an evidence-based speed limit that makes pedestrians and cyclists safer. Chances of survival decrease rapidly between 30 and 40 km/h. According to the World Health Organisation, pedestrians have 90% chance of surviving car crashes at 30 km/h or below, but less than a 50% chance of surviving impacts at 45 km/h or above. It is likely that similar differences exist for cyclists.
Lower speed limits should be combined with traffic calming measures that make it physically difficult to speed, regardless of legal sanctions or ineffective signs. Both are needed: without traffic calming, drivers tend to ignore speed limits, and without speed limits, there are no legal sanctions and speed limits cannot be enforced.
Reducing speeds to 30 km/h will make Melbourne a safer place for pedestrians and a cyclists, and a nicer place to walk and hang out in. Where speed limits are higher than 30km/h, governments should provide safe bike lanes.
What do you think? Where in Melbourne would you like to see lower speed limits?