Drivers hit with new 30km/h limit
MELBOURNE drivers will be the first in the country to test a new road rule that forces motorists to slow down to 30km/h in residential areas - but other major cities may not be too far behind.
The lowered speed limit will be enforced on residential streets in Collingwood and Fitzroy from September, with the aim of improving road safety for pedestrians and cyclists.
The 12-month trial is being led by the Yarra Council and may be introduced to other parts of Melbourne if it is successful.
Yarra Mayor Daniel Nguyen told news.com.au that the trial is about making the roads safer for everyone who uses them.
"This trial is about improving safety. From 2012-2017 there have been more than 100 crashes in the trial area, resulting in more than 30 serious injuries."
He said: "90 per cent of these crashes have involved pedestrians, cyclists and motorcycle riders."
Research from Monash University found that lowering a 40km/h speed zone by 10km/h reduces by half a pedestrian's chance of dying when hit by a car.
Just a 1km/h decrease in a car's speed could lead to a 3 per cent reduction in road crashes, according to the World Health Organisation.
The council said this approach focuses on making the roads safer by adjusting people's behaviour, rather than using costly infrastructure like speed bumps to force people to slow down.
"We want to make livelier, healthier streets that everyone can enjoy, whether they are walking, driving or riding," Mr Nguyen said.
"We hope that this trial will help reduce the number of serious injuries, and also bring other benefits including reduced congestion and encouraging more people to choose active transport options, like cycling and walking."
There has been a mixed reaction to the announcement, with some praising the council for the plan and others criticising the whole idea.
"What a welcome initiative and hopefully successful," one Twitter user wrote.
Another added that testing out the new limits "can't hurt".
But others weren't so positive, with one user saying they might as well "ban moving in any direction and at any speed in any vehicle".
"I get stressed out driving because I have to pay attention to my speedo instead of concentrating on the road. Cars aren't meant to do 30km/h - Pathetic idea," another person said.
One added: "It's been nice people … This will surely spell the end of Western civilisation."
Melbourne might not be the only city implementing lower speed limits, with the death of a woman in Brisbane in June sparking calls for reduced speed zones there.
A 67-year-old couple were hit by an SUV in the city's south, killing the woman and leaving the man seriously injured.
That incident, along with several other recent pedestrian fatalities and injuries, prompted calls for speed limits to be reduced to 30km/h in areas across the Queensland capital.
Chairman of the Pedestrian Council of Australia, Harold Scruby, saying something needs to be done about the country's rising pedestrian death toll.
"Most of Europe now … they are all 30km/h in areas of high pedestrian activity and it works," he told ABC Radio.
"We have right around Australia this phenomenon where the pedestrian death toll is going back up through the roof.
"In Brisbane, 92 per cent of the road users will be pedestrians, 6 per cent vehicles and 2 per cent cyclists. Why is the whole CBD controlled by vehicles?"
The call to adopt the 30km/h speed limit was also put forward to a Perth conference by local transport planner Tim Judd last month.
He argued that reducing speeds in smaller suburban street greatly improves pedestrian safety while only adding about a minute to travel times.