Melbourne plans to drop its CBD speed limit to 30km/h, the lowest of any capital city in Australia, following a Monash University report to council.
The new speed limit will replace the 40km/h limit introduced seven years ago between Flinders, Spring, La Trobe and Spencer streets.
The university research says the lower speed will protect vulnerable cyclists and pedestrians.
In 2017, the United Nations Global Road Safety Week called on 30klm/h speed limits in all city areas, citing World Health Organisation claims that a 5% cut in speed would result in a 30% reduction in the number of fatal road traffic crashes.
Victorian Motorcycle Council chairman Peter Baulch says that while road safety is a shared responsibility of all road users, “pedestrians have a responsibility to be fully aware of their surroundings at all times, without distractions”.
“However, for this 30km/h idea to take root and become law, it would require a change of both legislation and regulations, for which VicRoads says it has no current plans,” he says.
“Is this idea of 30km/h in the CBD another case of punishing the masses for the crimes of a few?
“VicPolice and the media generally report that many pedestrian incidents are the result of pedestrians being distracted by devices (phones, tablets, etc, often with earphones), which affects their ability to both see where they are walking and hear what is around them.
“A cynic may even suggest this is a plan to rid the CBD of vehicles all together.
“It’s time for pedestrians to be more disciplined and less distracted, like they were when probationary constables patrolled CBD intersections and pedestrian crossings.”
Longtime motorcycle advocate Rodney Brown says he believes Mayor Sally Capp’s strategy is to “have a city full of pushbike riders and thousands of hoops clogging up the footpaths”.
“Certainly it will not be a friendly city for motorists,” he says.
“Pushbike riders and pedestrians need to know and obey the road rules and police need to concentrate on those walking blindly while texting, talking on their mobile phones, ignoring stop-walk signals/signs and J-walkers.
“Police need to fine pushbike riders who believe a speed limit doesn’t include them. Maybe pushbikes need a speedo.
“Lowering the speed limit to 30km/h may encourage pushbike riders and pedestrians to take more risks.
“Melbourne City Council needs to run an advertising campaign encouraging pushbike riders and pedestrians to be more responsible with regards to their own safety when navigating in and around the City of Melbourne.”
The Monash report on CBD speeds follows a council review of central Melbourne transport.
Among the recommendations in the City of Melbourne’s transport strategy due for release next month is moving motorcycle parking from the footpaths to the streets.