Sydney CBD speed limit to be reduced to 40km/h soon

SIGN OF THE TIMES: Over the next fortnight there will be VMS road signs for motorists and a widespread advertising campaign including newspaper and radio ads to make sure anyone who missed the announcement in May is ready for the change.

SIGN OF THE TIMES: Over the next fortnight there will be VMS road signs for motorists and a widespread advertising campaign including newspaper and radio ads to make sure anyone who missed the announcement in May is ready for the change.

Earlier this week, NSW Minister for Roads and Freight Duncan Gay announced that a 40km/h speed limit will be introduced in a large part of the Sydney CBD  at the end of September.

“The CBD’s 40km/h speed limit zone will be rolled out from Saturday 27 September as we work to further improve pedestrian safety,” Minister Gay said.

“Considering a vehicle that hits a pedestrian at 50km/h is twice as likely to cause a fatality as the same vehicle travelling at 40km/h, this speed limit change will deliver significant safety benefits.

“The new 40km/h limit zone will operate in the area bound by Castlereagh Street to the east, Kent Street to the west and Hay Street to the south. It will also link in with the current 40km/h speed limit in The Rocks to the north of the CBD. The area will include a 40km/h speed limit on and adjacent to George Street.

“It’s not only motorist behaviour that needs to change – if you’re walking around, cross at the lights, obey traffic signals, look both ways before stepping onto the road and don’t get distracted by your phone,” Minister Gay said.

NRMA broadly supports the 40km/h speed limit. The average traffic speed in the CBD is around 20-30km/h so it won’t have any noticeable impact on traffic flow. We would urge people to be aware of the speed limit particularly where they might have come off the Harbour Bridge or Anzac Bridge at 70 or 60km/h and suddenly enter the CBD. Its important to know that the limit will be 40km/h, not 50km/h.

What do you think of this news?

40kmh-in-CBD-to-improve-pedestrian-safety.pdf

Directing our traffic lights

Traffic light - resized

Traffic lights, they’re the gatekeepers of our roads – but can they be improved?


Traffic lights, they’re the gatekeepers of our roads. They’re like a central nervous system for the vast interconnecting network of our streets, safely guiding us from point A to point B. They constantly send messages to drivers and pedestrians, telling us when to stop and when it’s safe to go.

Clearly serving a huge purpose, they keep us safe and help to keep us on our way in as efficient a manner as possible, so why do we get so frustrated with them? Everyone has experienced the lip-bitingly infuriating problem of hitting consecutive red lights. We’ve even seen traffic lights stop the flow of traffic for ‘invisible’ pedestrians, nowhere to be seen but still managing to hold you up just that little bit longer whilst a green man facilitates their safe passage.

There is, however, no denying that traffic lights are necessary to prevent all kinds of pandemonium from being unleashed on our roads. The question is, is there anything that can be done to improve these bastions of our roads? One suggestion that has been made to us, via our SpeakOut suggestion platform, is the removal of red arrows.

According to the RMS, a red arrow indicates ‘You must not turn right but you can go straight ahead or turn left if the way is clear’. This, however, is not a practice which is employed in countries such as the US or the UK, so do why do we need it in Australia? In short, it is due to safety as well as it being a practice which has always been in place.

In the past we have called for improvements to traffic lights. One of our suggestions in NRMA’s 2011 Decongestion Strategy was to improve traffic sensors and signal phasing so that traffic lights can detect the length of queues. This would help prioritise traffic signals and get cars through as efficiently as possible. Our system has been in place for so long that it may be impractical to take away red arrows, but we can make the system we have more intuitive and efficient.

Should our current practices be amended to fall in line with other nations? Is there anything else other countries do that we can adopt?

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RMS road rules on traffic lights

SpeakOut: Remove speed camera warning signs

One SpeakOut member has suggested removing speed camera signs.

One SpeakOut member has suggested removing speed camera signs.

If there’s one thing that polarises drivers it’s the existence of speed cameras. Some believe they are simply plonked on the side of the road to raise revenue for the government, while others are adamant they save countless lives by forcing people to slow down.

For the record, the NRMA supports the use of speed cameras when they are positioned in black spots that will make the road safer in that area.

Love em or hate em, they’re not going anywhere soon.

But one of our SpeakOut community members has made a suggestion that seems to have people divided: remove the warning signs.

“I am a professional driver and often see cars slow down right before a camera only to speed up again after they have passed it,” his submission starts.

“Obviously this is not having the effect in saving lives these cameras are meant to have.

“My suggestion is to remove all signs warning of the cameras and have a speed limit sign between 200 and 300 metres prior to any camera.”

Other SpeakOut members were quick to vote on the suggestion and many were against the idea. At the time of writing, 98 people had voted against it, while 28 supported the initiative.

While this member’s suggestion didn’t get the approval of the community, it’s an example of taking something we deal with every day and thinking of ways to make it better or more effective.

There are now dozens of suggestions like this – not just about roads, but also public transport, fuel prices and cycling – on SpeakOut.

It’s a great place to find out what other people are thinking – there’s a very good chance others share your frustrations and this is a great place to vote on ideas and join the discussion about the change you’re passionate about.

And of course we want to hear your ideas too. We want you to tell us what we should be championing and why we should be doing it.

So jump on to SpeakOut now and check it out.

What do you think of the suggestion to abolish speed camera signs?

 

Chinese cops dish out amazing punishment for high beam offenders

Police in a Chinese city are reportedly making drivers who use their lights incorrectly stare into them for five minutes (source: SMH)

Police in a Chinese city are reportedly making drivers who use their lights incorrectly stare into them for five minutes (source: SMH)

The misuse of headlights – and fog lights – have featured fairly regularly in the campaign suggestions we’ve received through our interactive advocacy platform Speak Out, but nobody has yet suggested the bizarre method of punishment reportedly dished out by one city’s traffic police in China.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that police in Shenzhen, a major city in the country’s south, are making those who abuse the use of their headlights sit in front of a police van and stare in its lights for five minutes.

The police department posted the above picture to China’s version of Twitter – Weibo – on their official account, which has more than 650,000 followers.

“From now on, traffic police will make those found carelessly using bright lights to look at them for five minutes,” the message attached to the image said, according to a translation by the SMH.

This method doesn’t sound particularly healthy for one’s eyes so it’s not likely something that will be adopted in Australia any time soon.

A number of Speak Out suggestions have called on drivers to stop using fog lights while on the road.

“It seems to me now every car fitted with these lights is using them every night. They are not good for oncoming drivers, causing (temporary) blinding,” one user wrote.

“Please have a bit more consideration for your fellow road users and switch them off.”

Another member suggested a campaign to educate drivers how to turn their fog lights off.

“I would like to see a campaign educating drivers of late model vehicles on how and when to turn off fog lights,” they wrote.

Living in rural NSW I see more and more vehicles travelling with fog lights on when it’s not appropriate.

“As they are mounted low on the car they shine straight into the eyes of oncoming drivers.”

In NSW you are only permitted to use fog lights ‘if driving in fog, mist or other atmospheric condition that restricts visibility’.

It is also an offence to use your high beams when you are less than 200m from a car in front, or less than 200m from an oncoming vehicle.

Both of these attract a $104 fine and loss of two points.

What do you think would make a more suitable punishment for drivers who use high beams and fog lights when they shouldn’t?

Mobile speed cameras: How fast are you (meant to be) going?

Should mobile speed camera warnings indicate the speed being checked?

On my way to work each morning I encounter at least four different speed limits. If I’m running behind schedule and school zones are in effect, I can add a fifth to that list.

There’s nothing wrong with this – each is on a different type of road that has a limit in line with the area and conditions and they are well sign posted.

Another common site on my morning and afternoon commute is the RMS mobile speed camera vehicle. Parked on the side of the road with warning signs leading up to it, the cameras on board monitor vehicle speed according to the posted limits in the area.

To be honest it sometimes seems like a futile exercise during peak hour as the congestion means his radar would struggle to register any car hitting double digits.

The signs the mobile speed camera operators place before their enforcement zone give drivers warning of what’s ahead, but what they don’t provide is the speed limit in the area.

Warnings for fixed speed cameras on the other hand are clear what speed is being checked and alert drivers if they are placed in an area that has variable limits – such as a school zone.

One popular suggestion on Speak Out by Kevin Woodman is that mobile speed cameras also alert drivers of the speed limit they are checking.

Check out other campaign suggestions or make your own on our Speak Out platform.

“The problem is that if you are unfamiliar with the piece of road then you often have no idea what the speed limit is that is being policed,” Mr Woodman wrote.

“The camera cars should state on their signs what the limit is in the zone they are policing.”

Many of the Speak Out community agreed with Mr Woodman, with more than 100 clicking on the thumbs up to support the campaign suggestion, and just six on the thumbs down.

Mr Woodman found that while on a long drive recently, he at times found it difficult to determine what the posted speed limit was.

“I travelled over 1000km last weekend on unfamiliar roads and found it very difficult at times (even with 36 years driving experience) to assess what the posted speed was likely to be in certain areas as signage was almost non-existent,” he wrote.

“The old method of looking for houses and streetlights to determine if it is a 60km/h zone seems not to apply anymore.”

Do you think it would be helpful if mobile speed camera warnings included the speed limit being enforced in the area?