40 kmh Zone for Sydney CBD

Green light to make city even slower

The Daily Telegraph

Monday 28 June 2004
By STAVRO SOFIOS Political Reporter

THE speed limit in the centre of Sydney will be cut to 40km/h - or about the top speed of an elephant.

Barely a year after it dropped to 50km/h, the CBD limit will again fall 10km/h in a major victory for road safety campaigners.

City of Sydney Council will tonight approve the move, to cost at least $80,000 and be in force by the year's end.

"A lot of motorists would say they are lucky to ever reach 40km/h in the city because of congestion, but we have to do this to protect pedestrians," Lord Mayor Clover Moore told The Daily Telegraph yesterday.

"More than 70 per cent of journeys into the city are pedestrian-based. We want to make this a pedestrian city."

All CBD streets bounded by Circular Quay, Macquarie, Oxford, Elizabeth, Harris and Sussex streets will become 40km/h zones.

Devonshire St will also become a 40km/h area because of high pedestrian activity, with Oxford St also upgraded with a new bicycle lane.

The council does, however, fear that bus services could be affected by the lower limit, which could also be another excuse for road rage by drivers trying to cope in congested city streets.

Ms Moore said she would hold talks with the State Government over the 80km/h speed limit planned for the Cross City Tunnel because motorists would be coming out of the tunnel, when it is completed late next year, and hitting the new lower limit.

The council will also ask the RTA to deal with its application differently to other councils across the state, which will also drop the limit in their

The RTA normally only agrees to the 40km/h limit in conjunction with speed humps, roundabouts and other traffic calming devices, but they've been ruled out on Australia's busiest streets.

The council said 250 CBD traffic lights were enough to manage flow, and the only visible sign of the limit will be new "40" signs and lane markings.

The RTA yesterday said it was unclear how long it would take to implement the limit, but has committed to fully funding the changeover for any council cutting speed limits.

The council will spend at least $40,000 on public education and $20,000 on "public consultation".

Pedestrian Council of Australia president Harold Scruby yesterday claimed victory over the council, which he had been lobbying for seven years to cut the speed limit.

"It will save lives, but [former lord mayors] Frank Sartor and Lucy Turnbull wouldn't listen to us," he said.



The RTA has stepped up its push for 40km/h speed limits in the main streets of Sydney suburbs and country towns such as Orange and Bathurst.

The Balmain peninsula is already 40km/h, as is North Sydney CBD, Chatswood and Avalon.

Councils and communities have to support the cut before RTA approval.

THE driver of a taxi which mounted a CBD footpath and injured several pedestrians on Friday has yet to be charged. A pedestrian, 54, is in intensive care and another woman, 37, stable after the accident on the corner of Market and York streets.

The Debate

The Daily Telegraph Monday 28 June 2004


Should Sydney CBD roads be made into 40km/h zones?



THE argument of speed being a revenue raiser gains much credibility from the suggestion of a 40km/h limit on Sydney streets.

What, are we going to start fining people for simply being in moving traffic now? There are any number of reasons why this is a dumb idea.

How often does gridlock traffic actually get above 40km/h? Are we now going to make people pay $127 and lose two points for moving their cars?

Yet another world first for Sydney, being pulled over for speeding by a cop on a bicycle, or worse yet, one walking briskly along the footpath.

Just how low can they go?

Drivers were told 50km/h was a safe speed. Now the council wants to make it 40km/h, as that's even safer.

What's next, 30km/h and don't you dare shift it out of first gear?

If council is serious about a 40km/h limit it should go the whole hog and make people drive golf carts around the city.

The smog reduction would perhaps be the only saving grace for this ridiculous suggestion.


* Matt Sun is The Daily Telegraph's transport reporter



The Lord Mayor and the City of Sydney Council should be congratulated on this move, it has been a long time coming.

We got 40km/h zones in the heart of North Sydney a year ago.

They are in the Chatswood CBD, the whole of the Balmain peninsula and now Avalon.

What we will now see right across Sydney and Australia is a reduction in speed zones.

But motorists have got to start getting used to varying speed limits, because we can't bring every road down to 40km/h.

We've got to start returning areas which used to belong to pedestrians back to pedestrians.

This will be a boon for shopkeepers, it will create a much more harmonious area in which to shop.

The community is starting to see the benefit of these zones, there hasn't been one objection to the North Sydney model.

These new zones should be coupled with new red light speed cameras to make them even more effective.

If we can save even one life let alone thousands of injuries, it has to be worthwhile.

* Harold Scruby is the president of the Pedestrian Council of Australia

Runaway taxi ploughs into city pedestrians

Daily Telegraph

Friday 26 June 2004

Chaos . . . ambulance officers attend the injured at the scene yesterday.

A 54-year-old man suffered serious injuries yesterday after a taxi careered into pedestrians at a busy city intersection.

Paramedics arriving at the scene on the corner of Market and York Sts about 11.00am found a man trapped under a Legion taxi.

Badly injured and unconscious, the man was taken to St Vincent's Hospital suffering head, chest and limb injuries.

Doctors diagnosed bleeding on the brain and inserted a drain in the victim's chest.

After being stabilised the man was admitted to intensive care where he remained last night in a serious but stable condition.

A 37-year-old woman was also taken to St Vincent's suffering serious cuts to her legs.

She was later admitted to hospital in a satisfactory condition.

A young man hit by the taxi was taken to St Vincent's and later discharged after receiving treatment for a leg fracture.

The driver was taken to Sydney hospital suffering shock. He appeared unharmed despite the fact the taxi's airbag failed to inflate.

The insignia AIRBAG could be clearly seen, stamped on the horn in the middle of the taxi's steering wheel.

A passenger in the taxi also escaped unharmed.

After the victims had been treated and ferried away in ambulances, curious onlookers gathered at the southwest corner of the intersection as police roped off the accident scene.

A piece of a woman's skirt could be seen stuck to the taxi's crumpled front end and the footpath was stained with blood.

A woman's shoe, two handbags and a tie lay where they had fallen as police from the metropolitan crash investigation unit went to work.

Witnesses recounted chaotic scenes as the taxi, which was heading west along Market St, mounted the kerb and began mowing down victims.

After scattering terrified pedestrians in every direction, the cab slammed into a pole fitted with traffic lights.

Ramira, who operates a fruit stall on Market Street, said the taxi did not break before hitting the pedestrian.

"It just ran into them," she said.

"There was no sound of skidding tyres, no nothing.

"He just drove into them and then everyone was screaming and running away."

Ramira said she dialled triple 0 several times but couldn't raise a response from the emergency line operator.

After the taxi came to a halt, bystanders gathered around to help the injured.

Ramira said a police officer at the scene had told her the taxi driver "blacked out".

Legion Taxi general manager John McPherson said the operator of the taxi had visited the accident scene.

He said taxi drivers over the age of 65 were required to have an annual check up.

Mr McPherson said he was unaware of taxi operators disabling airbags to save money.

It costs at least $1500 to re-install an inflated airbag, which might be deployed after a minor bump.