For many years I have advocated for lower traffic speed limits across the city, to ensure pedestrian and cyclist safety and local community amenity.
The city is densely populated and sees an influx of hundreds of thousands of visitors and workers every day. It’s not a speedway for vehicles to race through – it’s a shared environment.
Recognising this, in August 2019, Transport for NSW expanded the 40km/h speed zones in the CBD to include areas around Ultimo, Barangaroo, Dawes Point and Millers Point. It’s a change that has improved safety for pedestrians and bicycle riders, delivering a reduction in crashes and accidents.
We have seen similar reductions and results in other areas of the City, like Alexandria, on Cleveland Street and Oxford Street. In fact, currently 75 per cent of all roads in the City of Sydney Local Government Area have a speed limit of 40km/h or lower – but many of these areas aren’t yet signposted or abut higher speed zones, leading to confusion or illegal driving.
When Andrew Constance was NSW Minister for Transport, he made a commitment to me that all roads in the City of Sydney would be 40km/h by the end of 2021. That has not happened.
We want to see these changes enacted across our city centre to create a safer, more pleasant place to walk or ride through, or stop for a while and enjoy everything on offer. Think to how popular street closure parties have been through the summer and more recently WorldPride. When roads aren’t the sole domain of cars, everyone benefits.
This is even more important in our densely-populated residential areas. These are communities where children play or ride bikes. We can’t prioritise these roads as fast-flowing rat-runs simply to save motorists a couple of minutes in commute.
On average, one child a week is killed or seriously injured on the roads in NSW.
We need to do more to bring this number down to zero. There aren’t even speed limit requirements around childcare centres.
That’s what we were talking about at Council last night – the need to implement legislative requirements for traffic calming or speed reduction around childcare centres, similar to that which currently exists for schools.
Council unanimously resolved that I write to the Premier and the NSW Opposition Leader restating the urgency and necessity of implementing 40km/h per hour speed limits on all streets in the City of Sydney Local Government Area.
Data shows there is a 10% risk a pedestrian will be killed if hit by a car travelling at 30km/h. That risk rises to 40% at 40km/h and 90% at 50km/h. The leading cause of death for children in Australia is transport accidents.
We can learn from global cities such as Oslo, Helsinki and Edinburgh where lower speed limits have resulted in significantly reduced pedestrian and cyclist deaths and significantly improved roadside amenity.