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Safer speeds on the way between Christchurch and Akaroa

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New speed limits for roads between Christchurch and Akaroa will make travel a safer and more enjoyable experience, whether people are driving, riding motorcycles, cycling or walking, says Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.

Waka Kotahi today announced that new, safer speed limits are coming for State Highways 73 and 75 between Christchurch and Akaroa, and State Highway 74 in Lyttelton.

Following a joint community consultation process, Christchurch City Council is deciding new speed limits for some side roads and townships adjoining SH75, including Motukarara through to Takamatua.

Four weeks of advertising will give people advance notice of the date the new speed limits apply, which will be in late July or early August. Covid-related supply chain issues mean materials for new signs may not be available until mid this year.

New speed limits on urban and rural roads

The changes include more consistent speeds through Halswell, 60km/h over the Hilltop and 50km/h through Little River to just past Wairewa Marae.

High-risk 100km/h sections of SH75 where crashes are increasing will reduce to 80km/h.

Waka Kotahi Director of Regional Relationships James Caygill says speed limits need to reflect the type of road and their environment, and in this instance 100km/h is not safe or appropriate.

“We need these changes on Banks Peninsula. Between 2011-2020 there were 747 crashes between Christchurch and Akaroa. Nine people were killed and 74 others were seriously injured, many facing lengthy rehabilitation.*

Mr Caygill says this is unacceptable. “It’s time to stop paying the road toll. We know that safer speeds will make a difference.

“Between Blenheim and Nelson where speeds have been lowered on SH6 – a similar rural highway corridor – no one has been killed since December 2020 when the new limits went in place.

“While these positive results are early indicators, the reduction in crashes and serious casualties is very encouraging.”

Mr Caygill says he had driven from Akaroa to Christchurch, 84 km, at the new speeds. “It did feel different to drive compared to what I am used to, but when I checked the clock, the time difference was under five minutes. If that small inconvenience of a few minutes will stop people from being killed or seriously injured, then I am all for it.

“The roadside conditions of Banks Peninsula with narrow shoulders and no physical separation of traffic means there’s little margin for error. It is not safe or appropriate for this road to have the same speed limit as the Christchurch Southern Motorway or Christchurch Northern Corridor. Speed limits should reflect the type of road and their environment.

“We know safer speeds will make a difference and New Zealand can achieve the Road to Zero target of 40 per cent fewer deaths and serious injuries on our roads by 2030.”

Local roads and small settlements’ speed limit changes

Christchurch City Council Transport Operations Manager Stephen Wright says lowering speed limits on local roads could be the difference between someone dying in a collision or walking away unharmed.

“The safer speeds on these local roads and in rural townships will recognise there are more people walking, riding, driving and cycling in these areas, particularly vulnerable schoolchildren and the elderly,” he says.

“It also aligns these roads and townships with other speed reductions introduced across Banks Peninsula in 2021, which have been positively received by communities.”

Steps to a safer road environment

As well as safer speed limits, Waka Kotahi is taking steps to support a safer environment for everyone using the road, including:

  • installing new signage at town entrances
  • adding or improving road markings
  • continuing the maintenance programme on SH73/75, with nearly 30km of road surfacing underway between Christchurch and Akaroa
  • investigating a range of infrastructure improvements along SH75 between Tai Tapu and Akaroa, to increase safety and resilience.

More information on the new speed limits and a consultation summary, including the submissions, can be found on our website.

SH73/SH75 Christchurch to Akaroa and SH74 Lyttelton speed review

Information on Christchurch City Council’s speed limit changes(external link)

The Road to Zero New Zealand road safety plan

*On SH73/75 over the period 2011-2020, data extracted August 2021 from the Crash Analysis System (CAS).

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