Melbourne City Council has allocated money in its budget to reduce speed limits in the CBD to 40km/h.
But they’re still waiting for Vicroads, and the Minister for Transport, to sign off on the plan.
This would be a safety win for all road users – chances of death and injury decrease significantly between 50 km/h and 40 km/h. It will also make the urban environment a bit more relaxing for everyone.
Ultimately, we’re working towards 30 km/h in the CBD, strip shopping areas, and residential areas. That’s the speed at which it becomes much more feasible for cyclists and drivers to ‘share the road’, because it’s safer and we’re on a bit more of an equal playing field.
30km/h is an evidence-based speed limit that makes pedestrians and cyclists safer. Chances of survival increase rapidly 40km/h down to 30 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.