More than 50 per cent of residents opposed the new limits when surveyed last year, but the Yarra Council is forging ahead regardless.
Collingwood and Fitzroy residents in Melbourne will be subjected to a 30km/h speed limit trial from 'late September', as Yarra Council seeks to make life easier for pedestrians and cyclists in residential areas.
The new limits, which are a first in Australia, will be applied to the residential zone bordered by Alexandra Parade, Hoddle, Johnston and Nicholson streets. Smith Street and Brunswick Street – the busiest thoroughfares in the area – will maintain their 40km/h limits.
"We want to make livelier, healthier streets that everyone can enjoy, whether they are walking, driving or riding. We hope that this trial will help reduce the number of serious injuries, and also bring other benefits including reduced congestion and encouraging more people to choose active transport options, like cycling and walking,” said Daniel Nguyen, Yarra Council mayor.
Yarra Council says the trial will last 12 months, and will cost $261,500 to implement. Just $25,000 of that funding has been provided by the council, with the rest coming from the Transport Accident Commission (TAC).
As for why it's taking place? According to Nguyen, it's about protecting pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists on residential streets, after a significant number of crashes in recent years.
“This trial is about improving safety. From 2012-2017 there have been more than 100 crashes in the trial area, resulting in more than 30 serious injuries. 90 per cent of these crashes have involved pedestrians, cyclists and motorcycle riders," Nguyen explained.
Ambassador for the trial and Collingwood office worker, Jeremy Wortsman, said it's about making the area "better for everyone".
“The stories you hear of people being hit by cars or having car accidents as a cyclist or a pedestrian in Melbourne, it’s like the more you talk about it the more you realise it’s a common occurrence,” he said.
“I think it’s really about getting more foot traffic and feeling like it’s a place you can explore more.”
Not everyone is behind the project, though. Residents were surveyed on the issue last year, with more than 50 per cent opposing a 30km/h limit based on concerns it's "too slow, that it was unnecessary and wouldn't improve safety, and that it was revenue raising for the council".
Revenue raising is besides the point, given the council doesn't actually earn money from speeding fines within its jurisdiction, while research quoted by Yarra Council argues the impact on commuters' travel time should be negligible.
It also says the drop from 40km/h to 30km/h will halve the risk of fatal injuries in accidents involving pedestrians.