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Making the Christchurch to Akaroa highway and Banks Peninsula roads safer

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It’s time for Cantabrians to give their feedback on proposed safer speeds between Christchurch and Akaroa, as well as Lyttelton, and Banks Peninsula side roads.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is formally consulting on proposed new speeds for State Highways 73 and 75, Christchurch to Akaroa from today, 3 November. The highway is in the top 10 per cent in New Zealand where the greatest gains can be made in preventing people being killed or seriously injured in a crash. 

In the last decade there were 739 known crashes on this 84km corridor.*  Nine people were killed and 72 people suffered serious injuries, leaving families, friends and communities grieving and many people with life-long injuries.

During public engagement earlier this year, Waka Kotahi received more than 800 pieces of feedback about how people use the Akaroa highway and their views on current speed limits.

Waka Kotahi Director of Regional Relationships James Caygill thanked everyone who contributed including rūnanga partners, stakeholders and the wider community.

“The speeds we’re proposing aim to address concerns raised earlier this year about traffic speeds past Halswell School and Tai Tapu School, Wairewa Marae, and through townships and in areas where people ride their bikes or walk near the road,” Mr Caygill says.

People were unlikely to be surprised by the proposed 60km/hour safer speed limit between Cooptown and Duvauchelle, he says. But he acknowledges that reducing open road speeds to a maximum of 80km/hour between Halswell and Little River could be unpopular with some road users, while many local people have been asking for a speed reduction for many years.

“The most common type of crash is loss of control, which often comes down to excessive speed. Most crashes – particularly serious injury and fatal crashes – occur where the speed limit is higher,” says Mr Caygill.

“We want everyone who uses our roads to get where they’re going safely and there’s one thing we can do that will make a huge difference immediately - ensure speed limits are safe and right for this road.”

*On SH73 and SH75, the Akaroa highway, over the period 2011-2020, data extracted March 2021 from the Crash Analysis System.

International endorsement for safer speeds

Former Canterbury District Police Commander Dave Cliff, now working for the International Red Cross in Geneva and CEO of its Global Road Safety Partnership, agrees with the proposed lower speed limits for the Akaroa highway.

“Reducing speed limits to those consistent with ‘safe system’ principles is an essential element to reducing the numbers of people being killed and seriously injured in road crashes. 

“As a basic rule of thumb, a 5% decrease in average speed leads to approximately a 10% decrease in all injury crashes and a 20% decrease in fatal crashes.

“Reducing speed limits on the route between Christchurch and Akaroa, because of its winding and undulating nature, is one where speed reduction will unquestionably save lives. As the former Canterbury Police District Commander and having travelled that route so frequently, I know why the existing 100 km/hour speed limit is too high for safe travel.  

“We can’t trade off lives - and in many cases, lifelong disabilities - in order to save a few seconds in travel time.  Not only does speed reduction reduce road trauma, but it also results in significant reductions in CO2 emissions and fuel use and makes a major contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

“When speeds reduce, everyone wins.”

Lyttelton’s state highway

Waka Kotahi is also asking for feedback on State Highway 74, Norwich and Gladstone Quays in Lyttelton. This section of highway has been included in consultation to align with the safer speeds recently set for Lyttelton township by Christchurch City Council.

Banks Peninsula local roads

Christchurch City Council is proposing speed reductions on local side roads adjoining the highway, including the settlements of Duvauchelle and Takamatua.

Council Transport Operations Manager Steffan Thomas says while Waka Kotahi was consulting with the community about new highway speeds for Banks Peninsula it made sense to include local roads and take a whole-of-network approach.

“We want to make all Banks Peninsula roads as safe as possible for everyone so we’re reviewing the network based on Waka Kotahi guidance on safe and appropriate speed limits,” he says.

“We know that speed dictates both crash probability and severity – the higher a vehicle’s speed, the greater the risk of a crash and the bigger the consequences are on impact.

“The speed you’re travelling at can mean the difference between life or death for drivers, passengers, pedestrians, e-scooter users and cyclists.”

Takamatua Straight extra thinking needed

Mr Caygill notes that there was one section of the Akaroa highway where Waka Kotahi is asking for more public input to help with the final decision.

“We’re asking for more feedback from people about Takamatua Straight, to help us with our final decision because our technical evidence could support two different speed limits safely – 60km/hour or 80km/hour.

“We’re asking for more information on people’s experiences travelling through Takamatua and using the intersection and people’s views on safety and speed at this location.”

The public consultation period runs from 3 November to 11pm on 3 December 2021. People can get more information on the proposal, and provide feedback, by:

•        Visiting the Christchurch to Akaroa project page

•        Emailing: chchtoakaroaspeeds@nzta.govt.nz

•        Mailing in the FreePost consultation feedback form, which is available from Council libraries and service centres.

The recommended speeds are an important step towards helping New Zealand achieve its Road to Zero target of 40 percent fewer deaths and serious injuries on our roads by 2030.

New Zealand’s road safety strategy

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