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The case for 30km/h

Research from around the world shows us that 30km/h is the safe speed for areas where there are pedestrians and cyclists. International examples and a growing body of evidence show us that lowering speed limits in these areas is the right route to take.

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Road safety strategies from around the world, including Victoria’s own Road Safety Strategy – Towards Zero 2016-2026, recognise this.

Research shows that a fatal injury to a pedestrian is at least twice as likely to occur in a crash at 40km/h than at 30km/h.

Overall, if average speeds are reduced by just 1km/h, road crashes are reduced by 2-3%.

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Trialling area
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Research also shows that reduction in speed limits in urban areas has minimal impact on travel time. Travel time in built-up areas is related to how much time is spent slowing and stopping at intersections, parking and in local congestion. Maximum travel speed has very little to do with travel time in these areas.

30km/h (or 20mph) speed limits are working in cities and towns all over the world. It’s time to bring them to Australia.

We want to create streets that everyone can enjoy – whether they are walking, driving or riding. We want people to feel safer, which in turn will make them more likely to spend time in the streets.

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Thanks for 30 will make our neighbourhoods more lively, more vibrant and more welcoming – and we think that’s worthwhile.

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Street in Fitzroy
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30km/h myths

There are a few misconceptions about what 30km/h actually means. Thanks for 30 is an evidence-based approach, so take a look at a few of the common myths, and see what the research says about them.

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Myth: 30km/h will lead to more congestion and delays.

The impact on travel time is likely to be insignificant. Research shows the difference in travel time, where the maximum speed was varied between 30km/h and 40km/h, was minimal. In fact, according to the research, a lower speed limit in congested areas may actually reduce travel time since it allows a constant traffic flow and less friction.

Considering the amount of time spent on these local neighbourhood streets, and not on main roads, differences in travel time for most trips will be minor.

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Myth: Cyclists travel faster than 30km/h anyway.

It’s true that some cyclists travel faster than 30km/h, but not all do, and they are not likely to on these neighbourhood streets. The new speed limit will apply to all road users – including cyclists.

Just like motorists, if cyclists want to travel faster they can use another route.

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Myth: This won’t improve pedestrian safety.

Research from around the world demonstrates that a reduction in speed from 40km/h to 30km/h will have a significant impact on safety, particularly for pedestrians and cyclists.

The chance of causing a fatal injury to a pedestrian in a crash at 30km/h is half that at 40km/h.

Stopping distance is also significantly reduced for vehicles travelling between 40km/h and 30km/h, so more crashes can be avoided.

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Myth: A 30km/h speed limit will cause more crashes because drivers will be concentrating on their speed and not on the road.

There are many locations around the world where 30km/h or 20mph (imperial equivalent) speed limits are in place, and there isn’t any evidence suggesting that crashes have increased as a result of the reduced speeds.

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Myth: A 30km/h speed limit will increase carbon emissions and pollution.

There is no solid evidence to support the idea that a lower speed limit either raises or lowers emissions. Factors like the type and age of cars, driving styles and the amount of slowing and speeding up (like when turning) have a greater impact on carbon emissions and pollution.

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References

There’s plenty of research from around the world that shows us that 30km/h is the safer speed for neighbourhood areas. Take a look at the research, case studies and road safety strategies that have led us here.

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City of Yarra - 30km/h Speed Limit: Pre-Trial Final Report
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Monash University Accident Research Centre for Yarra City Council, 2017
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