Sydney CBD speed limit to be reduced to 40km/h, Duncan Gay says

Duncan Gay has proposed a new speed limit for the city. Photo: Neil Newitt
Duncan Gay has proposed a new speed limit for the city. Photo: Neil Newitt

The speed limit in a large part of the CBD will be lowered to 40km/h in a move aimed at reducing the number of pedestrian deaths in the city.

NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay said the new limit, a 10km/h decrease on the current 50km/h, will be introduced by the end of the year in an area reaching from Circular Quay to Hay Street, in between Castlereagh and Pitt streets and Kent Street.

Between 2008 and 2014 seven pedestrians were killed in the CBD, including three this year. Six people died in the area designated as the new 40km/h zone.

The Pedestrian Council of Australia congratulated the state government on the decision.

"It'll save lives, it'll save limbs definitely and not only that it'll dramatically increase the amenity of the city of Sydney," council chairman Harold Scruby said.

"A pedestrian hit at 50km/h is twice as likely to be killed as if the car was travelling at 40km/h."

But NRMA president Wendy Machin said that speed limits needed to be logical for drivers and that it would make more sense to have a clear demarcation at the key entrance points to the CBD, for example coming off the Cahill Expressway at Macquarie Street.

She also said that the "iWalking" problem of pedestrians looking at their phones, instead of where they were going, had worsened in recent years and that pedestrians needed to take some responsibility for their safety by being aware of traffic around them.

The new 40km/h zone will connect with the current 40km/h area in The Rocks.

There are already 40km/h speed limits in Millers Point, Woolloomooloo, Darlinghurst, Surry Hills, Redfern, Chippendale, Rosebery, Leichhardt and Erskineville.

“The Centre for Road Safety will monitor the effectiveness of the limits to determine if any locations need further speed management," Mr Gay said.

The announcement came as a road safety expert called for speed limits in school zones to be lowered to 30km/h after a week in which five children were hit by cars in NSW.

Professor of road safety at the University of NSW Raphael Grzebieta said forcing motorists to slow down during drop-off and pick-up times would help curb pedestrian accidents and bring NSW in line with "world's best practice". "In the UK, Sweden and the Netherlands it's 30km/h in school zones," Professor Grzebieta said.

"During peak times at schools that's the speed limit we need to have. In Centennial Park, where there's pedestrians and bikes, everyone abides by the 30km/h limit."

He said the current limit of 40km/h was "too high", and dropping it by 10km/h would cut the fatality rate "by about 10 per cent".

This story Sydney CBD speed limit to be reduced to 40km/h, Duncan Gay says first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.