Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 11 February 2010) . . Page.. 296 ..
but it also has the very important effect of making sustainable transport more attractive. We all know that transport patterns in our city need change. We need to move away from the focus on private car use in favour of active and sustainable transport. This is not just about climate change; it is a response to peak oil and it is a response to the safety and health of all of our population and the vibrancy, life and enjoyment of our community.
One of the crucial points that the Greens want to emphasise is made prominently in the consultant’s background report on 40 kph zones. It says:
Research and experience clearly shows reduced speed limit can improve safety for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists.
It also says that reduced speed limit measures can achieve these results here in the ACT.
We are very strongly looking forward to seeing this implemented. We are very pleased to hear that the Chief Minister is using the term “pilot project” rather than “trial”. I am very positive that this is the way to go.
Shopping centres and community centres are the way to go, and I will briefly go through why. Clearly the obvious reason is physics. Low vehicle speeds make a substantial difference in reducing the risk of injury for cyclists and pedestrians. The World Health Organisation has reported that speed is the single most important contributor to road fatalities. It reveals that, while most unprotected road users survive a hit by a car travelling at 30 kilometres per hour, the majority are killed if hit by a car travelling at 50 kilometres per hour.
A good example of this in practice can be found in the city of Kingston upon Hull in the UK. The widespread introduction of 30-kilometre-per-hour zones across the city achieved a 14 per cent decrease in all road casualties between 1994 and 2001 compared to a 1.5 increase in surrounding shires. Pedestrian casualties also decreased by 36 per cent. Reducing road speed limits also encourages and supports walking and cycling for transport. Evidence shows that in Australia perceived hazards such as vehicle speeds are a strong disincentive to walking and cycling for transport.
For instance, recent research in Canberra reveals that, while 49 per cent of people own a bicycle, only one in six of us use it to commute. And 81 per cent of those who did not ride cited dangerous traffic and unsafe roads as the biggest barrier to riding. I think that we will all agree that these are concerning statistics and that the change in the speed limit could be one thing which will help improve the statistics.
One of the conclusions of the researchers is that the interaction between cars and bicycles, particularly in urban areas—as Mr Stanhope said, from the feedback—is a continuing source of conflict and is holding back the transformation of Australia and Australian cities into bicycle-rich cityscapes like those in Asia and Europe.
Unfortunately, as well as the feedback that the Chief Minister got on this issue, research from the ANU showed that to some degree people’s safety fears are well