What's New

Local schools losing low-speed safety zones

Flagstaff Team

Low-speed zones established around primary schools for safety reasons will be rolled back under a central-government policy reversal.
Under Ministry of Transport proposals, Sunnynook Primary School will lose its full 30km/h zone. The school was one of the first in the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board area to have a zone applied two years ago.
Takapuna Primary School and the Age School on Lake Rd will also be affected, but to what extent is unclear, given their central locations and the other restrictions in force in the town centre. Four schools on the Devonport peninsula will also lose their zones.
The changes, ordered by Minister of Transport Simeon Brown, will cut the zone size to focus around school gates and reduce a permanent measure to one that covers only morning and afternoon pick-up times.
Compared with the extensive consultation when Auckland Transport (AT) began introducing the contentious zones under its Safe Speed Programme from 2020, the National-led coalition’s reversal, which is open for public feedback at consult.transport.govt.nz until 11 July, has drawn little community awareness or debate.
But DTLB chair Toni van Tonder is among those opposed to zone removal. “Personally, I don’t support the changes to speed limits where they have been widely consulted upon and changes have been executed,” she said.
Van Tonder said safe-speed zones around schools and in town centres sent a signal from the community that pedestrians, children and cyclists were important and needed protection. “Any travel-time savings gained by increasing speed limits in these areas will be negligible and the difference can mean life or death in the case of an accident.”
Local boards were briefed on the changes last month. Van Tonder said DTLB members had “mixed views”.
Concerns raised by board member George Wood about the Sunnynook Primary zone being too large and round-the-clock limits too disruptive to traffic were included last week in board feedback to AT’s Long Term Plan.
Across the Auckland region, AT says 118 schools with Safe Speed zones will be affected by the government changes. A roll-out to another 359 schools was put on hold in May, awaiting the government’s draft speed rule, which AT says it is still reviewing.
“AT will continue to follow legislative requirements,” a spokesperson said.
Van Tonder said the new government was looking to apply a cost-benefit analysis to changes. “And in the case of speed limits where changes have recently been made, there will be a negative cost-benefit ratio.”
AT and Waka Kotahi, the New Zealand Transport Agency, have both cited research showing the speed limit that greatly reduces the chances of a pedestrian being killed or seriously injured is 30km/h.

Please consider supporting The Rangitoto Observer by clicking here: