Why change the speed limits?

We need to make a start now on moving more people with fewer vehicles.

With a growing population, it’s crucial more of us use public transport, walk or bike. Safer central city speeds will help to encourage this.

Changing speed limits to 30km/h will help to make Wellington’s city centre a more pleasant place to be for the many thousands of people who live, work and spend time here – especially for people walking and riding bikes.

We’re a walking city

Central Wellington has the highest numbers of pedestrians in the country.

With 80,000 people travelling into the city each day, walking is the main way people make short trips around the central area for work, shopping, eating out, socialising or as part of their commute. Some parts of the Golden Mile have over 20,000 people passing through on foot each day.

Wellington is growing

In the next 30 years, we expect 50,000 to 80,000 more people to make Wellington their home. This will change not just where we live but how we live.

The central city is one of our fastest growing residential neighbourhoods, and will increasingly be a place where people want to enjoy spending time. In the next four years, we expect around 4000 more people to be living in the central area.

A safer city centre

Research shows that a 50km/h speed limit is too high for busy city streets where many people are getting around on foot.

Small reductions in speed can have a major effect on a person’s chances of survival. A pedestrian hit by a vehicle travelling at 30km/h has, on average, an 85% chance of surviving compared with a 30% chance of survival at 50km/h.

It all comes down to physics; a car travelling at 30km/h only needs around 13m to stop, whereas a car travelling at 50km/h needs around 28m to stop – an extra 15m. On our busy central city streets that extra 15m can be critical.

Safer speed zones in Wellington

As well as the Golden Mile, 15 of our suburban shopping centres are 30km/h zones. There are also 40km/h speed limits through the main Newtown shopping area, along Oriental Parade and around Miramar Peninsula.

Extending the 30km/h speed limit to other busy streets is consistent with this. It will also make it easier for people to know what speed they should be travelling. 

Lower speed limits are the norm

Christchurch’s central city has a 30km/h speed limit and Auckland Council will be doing the same in 2020. Many cities in Europe, the USA and Australia have lower speed limits.

A 30km/h speed limit would be consistent with the Government’s policy statement on land transport, which aims to create a more equitable and safer transport network, and the draft national road safety strategy, Road to Zero.

Community engagement

From 6 November to 15 December 2019, Let’s Get Wellington Moving engaged on a proposal to lower central city speed limits in Wellington.

Feedback was sought on reducing speed limits on all central city streets to 30km/h with the exception of the main roads (Waterloo Quay, Customhouse Quay, Jervois Quay, Cable Street, Wakefield Street, Kent Terrace, Cambridge Terrace, Vivian Street and Karo Drive) which were proposed to remain at 50 km/h.

There were 1190 pieces of feedback received from 475 people, including seven submissions from stakeholder groups.

The engagement had a map-based platform where people could give their feedback on specific locations. You can see what people said here.

We’re planning to change the speed limits on most central city streets to 30km/h. The speed limits on the main roads would stay at 50km/h. Feedback closes at 5pm, Tuesday 31 March 2020.