Bendigo council has applied for $1 million in state funding to create a 40km/h zone in the central business district.
One death involving a pedestrian, four bicycle and 26 vehicle crashes in four years on non-arterial city roads was behind the council’s decision to improve safety, City of Greater Bendigo engineering manager Brett Martini said.
“A pedestrian hit at 50km/h is two to three times likely to be killed than if the car was travelling at 40km/h,” he said.
Eleven other pedestrians were involved in crashes from 2011-2015, Mr Martini said.
Changes would include a zebra crossing adjacent to the Bendigo art gallery in View Street, roundabouts located at Edward/Queen Streets, Hargreaves/Mundy Streets, Hargreaves/Edward Streets and Mundy/Hopetoun/Lyttleton Terrace will receive treatments to make them more pedestrian friendly.
If successful, the funding, which will come from the Transport Accident Commission’s Safe System Road Infrastructure Program, will bring Bendigo’s CBD traffic management inline with Melbourne CBD, Geelong and Ballarat.
“The project would see speed limits in the CBD will lowered from 50km/h to 40 km/h within the area bordered by the Bendigo Railway Line, Myrtle Street, High Street, View Street, Chapel Street and around Gaol Road and Park Road. However speed limits on arterial roads such as Wills/Myers/Myrtle/Chapel and High Streets would remain unchanged,” Mr Martini said.
“Many of the streets within the CBD already have average vehicle speeds below 50km/h during the day. By reducing the speed limit from 50km/h to 40km/h, the emergency stopping distance of a car on a dry road reduces from 35m to 26m (based on an average reaction time of 1.5 seconds).”
It is currently unclear when works will commence if the application is successful.
Motorists, traders divided on idea
Local motorists are divided on the proposal, with some suggesting 50km/h is slow enough.
“Fifty (km/h) is hard enough, 40 (km/h) is just that bit slower,” Sonia said.
However she reasoned a reduced speed would improve road safety for cyclists, who could “easily be knocked off the road”.
“Some drivers can get a little impatient (with cyclists),” she said.
Another motorist, Margaret, was accepting of a reduced limit.
“I’m fine with it (40km/h), but only if they (authorities) enforce it,” she said.
Bendigo resident Rhonda said slowing drivers to 40km/h would increase traffic around the CBD, which would become problematic during peak times.
A shop manager on Mitchell Street said some drivers would continue to flout the speed limit if it was changed, but suggested a reduction could make a difference.
She said the pedestrian crossing at the intersection of Mitchell Street and Hargreaves Mall was problematic and was “surprised there hasn’t been any major incidents”.
A store manager on the same street, Kathryn, said she “didn’t see the point of 40km/h”.
“A red light or speed camera (on Mitchell Street) is more appropriate than a reduced limit,” she said.
It was difficult to speed on Mitchell Street during business hours due to traffic volumes and the number of traffic lights, Kathryn said.
Cyclist group supports changes
Bike Bendigo infrastructure group coordinator Chris Corr said 10km/h was the difference between life and death.
He said international research suggested anything over 30km/h was considered dangerous.
“The difference in travel time across the CBD (from 50km/h to 40km/h for cars) can be measured in seconds,” he said.
“We absolutely throw our support behind the proposal, and hope to reduce the speed limit further into the future.”