Council pursues lowering speed limits across Inner West Area
by JUSTIN COOPER
Inner West Council are expected to exhibit a potential change to lower motor vehicle speed limits across the LGA, aiming to minimise vehicle, bike and pedestrian collisions.
The recent “InnerWest@40 Study” was discussed at Tuesday’s council meeting, with a unanimous vote moving that the strategy be publicly exhibited. The strategy plans to implement a 40km/h limit across all local roads, as well as lowering particular thoroughfares from 50km/h to 60km/h.
Inner West Council commissioned Beca Consulting in 2022 to investigate the potential strategy basing evidence amongst the LGA, in recommending and supporting the 40km/h implementation.
The plan was motioned during the meeting by Labor Councillor, Tim Stephens, who expressed that the implementation will put “community safety first.”
Speaking with City Hub, Cr Stephens says he is “pleased” by Council’s decision to publicly exhibit the plan, providing a “evidence based” plan towards implementing the limits.
“InnerWest@40 provides an evidence base and action plan to support the implementation of 40km/h speed zones in local streets within the Inner West LGA,” Stephen explains.
With “major safety benefits for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers,” Stephen recalls the report saying, “the number of injuries per annum may be reduced by 30 per cent, and fatalities by 50 per cent” through implementing the 40km/h limit.
The motion was further supported by Independent councillor Pauline Lockie, who highlighted the significance of the safety measure whilst also not severely impacting current travel times.
The study states that many travel times under the 40km/h plan would only differentiate by under a minute. Specifically, the study notes the current 12 minute trip from Darling Street, Rozelle to Trinity Grammar School, Summer Hill; saying that the trip would only be increased by 26 seconds in off-peak, and a 37 second difference in peak traffic.
“I love the fact we have some case studies here that prove that in the inner west, our experience would be no different to other areas that have brought in these safer speed limits,” Lockie said during the meeting.
Speaking to City Hub, Lockie explained the impact of lowering limits in reducing “the number and severity of crashes.”
“For example, if a pedestrian is hit by a car doing 50km/h, their chances of survival are just 10%. That survival rate increases to 60% if the car is travelling at 40km/h, and 90% at 30km/h,” she explains.
“This is a life-saving measure that has the added bonus of having a negligible impact on drivers’ travel times.”
Lockie reassures the changes are not about being “anti-car,” but rather meeting public needs to “make our cities more liveable, sustainable and successful for everyone.”
“Here in the Inner West, we’ve had a 40km/h speed area in the Balmain peninsula for many years, as well as 40km/h high pedestrian areas on many of our main streets,” Lockie explains.
She further referenced cities including Oslo and Edinburgh who have similarly lowered speed limits. Lockie says the cities have “significantly reduced pedestrian and cyclist deaths while improving roadside amenity” through the change.
Unanimous Council Support
Following brief amendments from Greens Cr Justine Langford, to include prioritising aged-care and child care facilities as a part of the implementation, council passed the motion unanimously.
With the council support, Council will write to the NSW Minister for Roads for further support and await decisions from external stakeholders.
“Any changes to speed limits must be approved and implemented by Transport for NSW, so the timeframe will be largely determined by them,” Lockie explains.
“But given that Transport for NSW has already provided in-principle support for 40km/h speed limits on our local roads, I hope this study will help us get safer speed limits implemented on our local roads sooner rather than later,” says Lockie.
Stephens explains if the plan is approved, implementation will be prioritised amongst high pedestrian, cyclist and vulnerable community areas, including schools and hospitals. Active public transport networks and high crash statistic areas will also be addressed promptly.
It is anticipated council will publicly exhibit the proposal for community feedback, in the near future.