Whakatāne District Council (Council), along with all councils across the country, is undertaking a major review of speed limits across the District under new legislative requirements set by the Government.

The new Land Transport Rule: Setting of Speed Limits 2022 provides a framework for setting speed limits across New Zealand through regional speed management plans. These plans will outline recommended safe and appropriate speed limits and related transport infrastructure including speed monitoring cameras.

The new legislation proposes that within 10 years, speeds be reduced to 30 or 40km/h for local streets and city hubs, 40 to 60km/h for urban connector streets (arterial routes) and 60 to 80km/h for our rural roads (or 100kmh where lanes are physically separated).

Whakatāne District Council Transport Planner, Joe Metcalfe, says speed is a key priority being addressed at a national level as part of Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s ‘Road to Zero’ road safety strategy which aims to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads by 40% before 2030.

“We want everyone who calls the Whakatāne District home, or who visits our community, to be safe when using our streets and roads. To do this, we need the right speeds on our roads for everyone, whether you are walking to the shops, biking to school, driving to work, or making deliveries.”

The 10-year plan outlining how Council will make changes in the local road environment to align with Central Government’s Road to Zero Strategy is now open for submissions.

“Council is responsible for setting speed limits on local roads within the District,” says Joe. “The newly developed draft District Speed Management Plan outlines the recommended urban speed limits for our local roads, and how local roads will be managed going forward.”

Joe adds, “Speed management is about using a range of techniques to reduce the harm experienced on our roads; it’s not just about setting speed limits.” He continues, “It also includes installing infrastructure that encourages appropriate speeds and working with other agencies on things like enforcement methods to ensure that people keep to the limits.”

“It’s about applying a safe systems approach to the road network where all elements play their role and where people can travel without fear of not making it home.”

While Joe admits the proposed speed changes may be an adjustment, given the District’s high rates of serious crashes involving speed, (Whakatāne District ranks tenth out of more than 70 other districts, and has the second highest crash rate involving pedestrians), something has to change to ensure our friends and whānau get home safely.

“New Zealand has some of the worst road fatality rates in the OECD with crashes costing our society almost $6 billion dollars each year. That’s a lot of resources being taken out of our health care system that could be drastically reduced if we all just take a bit of extra time on our roads.” Joe adds, “Great Aunt Betsy might just get that hip replacement without needing to wait four more years if we all just slow down.”

“There isn’t a lot of wriggle room for setting the speed limits but the there is scope to decide when in the next 10-years Whakatane District makes these changes, as well as where infrastructure and more enforcement might be needed.” He adds, “So it’s really important people have their say on the draft plan.”

Feedback on Council’s draft District Speed Management Plan can be made at www.koreromai.whakatane.govt.nz/speedmanagement. Consultation is open now and closes 5pm, Sunday 30th July.

The draft Speed Management Plan can be found here. A map of the proposed speed changes can be found here.

Once the plan is finalised, speed limits and treatments identified as part of the development of the speed management plan will be implemented from 2024, with the plan reviewed periodically to align with new guidance or changing conditions.

Key aspects of the draft Whakatāne District Speed Management Plan include:

  • The speed limit at school gates will be determined by the schools in line with the Setting of Speed Limit Rule and Waka Kotahi Guidance
  • All local streets and school areas will have speed limits of 30km/h
  • New local streets will be constructed for a 30km/h speed environment with appropriate physical features to reduce speeds
  • All other roads will be reviewed, and safe and appropriate speed limits applied based on Waka Kotahi guidance
  • Some rural and urban connector roads will not meet guidance at commencement of the plan and will be upgraded to align with recommended levels of safety for road users
  • Speed limits on rural roads will be set at 80kph initially with further speed reductions to 60kph reviewed in 2030 where required by Waka Kotahi Guidance
  • An area-based approach will be used to help maintain consistent speed limits creating less confusion for drivers
  • Will be coordinated with other road controlling authorities and their speed management programmes to provide consistency and prevent drivers avoiding slower speeds where this will increase the risk of harm.

For more information head to www.whakatane.govt.nz/speedmanagement.