ACT Minister for Transport, Jon Stanhope, is urging Canberrans to have their say on whether speeds limits around busy retail and commercial precincts should be reduced to improve the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.

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Canberrans have until Friday December 18 to provide feedback on whether the 40 km/h speed limit, which currently applies in school zones, should be expanded to other areas of the ACT such as shopping centres and community facilities.

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Stanhope said an independent review, commissioned by the Government, had confirmed a 40 km/h speed limit could improve the safety of vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists in areas of “high activity”.

“The ACT Government is exploring whether to expand the 40 km/h speed limit to targeted areas where there are significant numbers of pedestrians and cyclists.“We are inviting Canberrans to have their say on whether they believe a 40 km/h speed limit would be appropriate for their neighbourhood shopping centre or town centre,” he said.

Stanhope said even small reductions in speed limits could significantly improve the likelihood of a pedestrian or cyclist surviving a crash.

“The risk of death to a pedestrian or cyclist struck at 60 km/h is greater than 90 per cent compared to 30 per cent at a collision speed of 40 km/h.”

The debate follows calls from Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore, who in August said that the CBD and inner suburbs needed 40 km/h limits to protect pedestrians.

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She said pedestrians were involved in 23.8 per cent of road accidents in the City of Sydney in 2007 compared to the state average of 8.3 per cent.

“Just 15 per cent of people travel to work in the Sydney CBD by car, and the rest, 85 per cent, travel on foot, by bike or public transport.“It’s time we made this majority a priority,” she said.

The ACT Government is yet to decide exactly where the reduced speed limit would apply if approved.

“Further consultation will be undertaken with locals and traders if the proposal is supported by the community,” Stanhope said.

Canberrans can provide feedback by completing a questionnaire available online at http://www.tams.act.gov.au/, or in hard copy at Canberra Connect shop-fronts and public libraries.

by Tim Beissmann